Friday, September 29, 2006
Mad Professah has blogged about a number of important bills that were being considered in the Assembly this session, particularly openly lesbian State Senator Carole Migden's SB 1827 (State Income Tax Equity Act) and openly lesbian State Senator Sheila J Kuehl's SB 840 (Health Care Access for All) and SB 1437 (Bias Free Curriculum Act).
Even though I'm in Montevideo, Uruguay right now I am interested in following the state of these bills as the deadline for the Governator's decision arrives at the end of the month. Plus free hotel wireless internet is a wonderful thing!
So far the Governator has vetoed the Universal Health Care bill (he "doesn't believe in that sort of thing") and the Bias Free Curriculum Act, despite the author making substantial changes to both bills to court his signature. I haven't seen any reports on the domestic partner tax cut bill except for news reports about Assembly Republicans being put in the awkward position of not voting for a tax cut for the first time in recent memory (prejudice over principle, I guess!).
Hey, I'm still on vacation until Monday...light blogging until then...
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Sorry, I haven't put the Iguazu Falls pictures up, here is a teaserof the nearly 500 images I took last weekend!
Monday, September 25, 2006
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Buenos Aires is 1 hour ahead of EDT and 4 hours ahead of PDT. First impression just driving and walking around is reminiscent of Europe--these people definitely take their food seriously! Happily, the exchange rate for $US is $1=3 Argentinian Pesos which is much more favorable than the US-Euro exchange rate. That's all for now!
Monday, September 18, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Anyway, I think Equality California is a fantastic organization, which has achieved some amazing legislative achievements in the last few years. Let's hope the Governor decides to not stand in the way of progress and sign more of these bills into law instead of vetoing them.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Bill Bradley over at New West Notes comments that it really is not that unusual for incumbent governors to shirk their responsibilities to engage in robust debate with their political challengers.
Most incumbent governors running for re-election have engaged in only one debate, or none at all.
In the past 40 years, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown did the most debates. He did two with his Republican challenger, Attorney General Evelle Younger. Ronald Reagan did not debate Democrat Jesse Unruh. Republican George Deukmejian did not debate Tom Bradley. Republican Pete Wilson debated Kathleen Brown once. Democrat Gray Davis debated Bill Simon once.
Sharp readers may recall that the one debate that Schwarzenegger attended during the 2003 recall election was also sponsored by the CBA, and held in Sacramento. You know that was the one where Arianna Huffington went after Schwarzenegger so vigorously (and annoyingly) that Arnold's poll numbers went through the roof with hen pecked husbands everywhere!
I think it's a sad day indeed when the defining event of the electoral campaign to determine who will be chief executive of the most populous state in the United States (7th largest economy in the world!) is going to be one rinky dink "debate" which is actually a "seated conversation" with an ex-Republican state legislator (and now registered lobbyist) as "moderator." Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
She is a somewhat controversial figure in some circles because her books have sold so well and been so prominent. I didn't read White Teeth but I saw the mini-series made from it. I completely missed her sophomore work The Autograph Man. I had heard that On Beauty is based in a small East Coast liberal arts college and features campus politics extensively as well as the politics of race, multiculturalism and liberalism so I was excited to read it.
My friend Leo lent me his copy for my trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico in early May. I quite enjoyed this novel.
The most salient parts for me were, not unsurprisingly, the detailed descriptions of campus life at Wellington, the fictional liberal arts college which most observers say is modelled after the author's stay at Harvard during the 2002-2003 academic year. The faculty meetings, the internal musings of the students (and the faculty) on the first day of class, the psychology of the Dean were resoundingly accurate, to me. A bonus feature was the West Indian background of some of the main characters. Since I was born in the West Indies myself, and very rarely see diasporic portrayals of Blackness in the fiction I read, this was a special treat. I think the last Caribbean-inflected novel I read was by Nalo Hopkinson. If any of the MadProfessah audience has suggestions for other Black/West Indian/Caribbean novels please don't hesitate to suggest them to me!
The plot of the book follows the unravelling of the family life of the patriarch and art history professor Howard Belsey in the aftermath of his recent unfaithfulness to his wife Kiki Belsey. Howard is tall, white and thin; Kiki is short, black and fat. They have two off-spring: Zora, 18 and attending Howard's place of employ ("Wellington") and Levi, 16. As with most of Smith's work, the socio-cultural ramifications of race and ethnicity centered around the specific experience of multiracial and multicultural actors (characters, in a literary context) are the real raison d'etre of the book. Some critics diss Zadie Smith's ability to tell a decent story--she's really more interested in exploring the ideas emanating from and implicated in her characters' plights--but I kept reading the book, fueled by curiosity as to what would happen to these characters. The end is a bit sudden and oblique, but doesn't detract from the sense of satisfaction of having spent a good deal of time with characters that you now feel intimately connected to --and that, after all, is the best one can hope for when one picks up a book. "Phew, I did not waste my time reading this book."
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Dashing the hopes of Mad Professah and others for an all-Black male United States Senate race, U.S. Rep Benjamin Cardin has apparently edged out former U.S. Rep Kweisi Mfume for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate in Maryland by less than 25, 000 votes out of nearly half a million cast in a crowded field of sixteen hopefuls to replace retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes. Cardin will now face Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a conservative right-wing ideologue in the mold of Ohio Secretary of State R. Kenneth Blackwell and Pennsylvanian Gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann on the November 7th ballot. Mad Professah encourages the substantial African American community to vote for Cardin! In addition to the Senate race, Maryland had the opportunity to nominate (and in all practical purposes elect) the Nation's First Every Black Gay State Representatives yesterday. According to The Victory Fund, both candidates Anthony McCarthy and Mary Washington failed to place in the top 3 of their respective districts. Looks like we'll have to wait a little longer to reach that milestone.
Brooklyn, New York
In the hotly contested Democratic primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Major Owens in the Flatbush/Crown Heights/Park Slope section of Brooklyn, Jamaican-American City councilwoman Yvette Clarke beat Jewish City councilman David Yassky 31.2 to 26.2 percent despite being significantly out fundraised in the race. Yvette Clarke is the daughter of Una Clarke, the first Caribbean-born woman to serve on the New York City council. The 11th Cnogressional district of New York was once represented by Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for President of the United States and was originally created after the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to increase minority participation in representative government. The district, which once was almost three-quarters Black (with a large percentage of Caribbean/West Indian immigrants) has been redistricted to include more White voters from gentrified sections of Brooklyn like Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights with the results that nearly 21% of the residents are White and only 58% are Black. Clarke beat out the retiring officeholder's son Chris Owens (who placed fourth) along with a popular State Senator who represents significant portions of the district and the well-funded Yassky to win the political dogfight which gained national notoriety for the racial politics involved.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
One For The Ages
World #1 Roger Federer continued his inexorable march towards "Greatest of all Time" status by not only reaching his sixth consecutive Grand Slam final, his fourth of the 2006 calendar year, but for the second time in his career winning three of the four major titles. In fact, by defeating a resurgent Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 yesterday he completed a "triple-double": Roger Federer became the first man in history to win Wimbledon and US Open titles in three consecutive years. In the final, And he is just 25 years old. Of course, at that age Bjorn Borg had already won 5 Wimbledons and 6 French Opens, but who's counting? The Swede was out of the game soon afterwards, a tragic early retirement.
Won For The Agents
An early retirement for Maria Sharapova is quite unlikely. After capturing her second Grand Slam title on Saturday by defeating Justine Henin-Hardenne on Saturday night 6-4, 6-4 the golden It Girl of international tennis and the world's most highly paid female athlete will most likely continue her inexorable march towards Celebrity Superstardom. And she is just 19 years old.
One For The Aged
Speaking of age, Martina Navratilova is going to be 50 years old next month (October 18) but she also just won another Grand Slam title, her fifty-ninth, the 2006 US Open Mixed Doubles title with fellow lefty Bob Bryan. She announced that was her last professional match, and retired from tennis (for the third time). Martina, who is also openly lesbian (as is Billie Jean King) is probably the greatest tennis player, ever, male or female. She ended her career with an astonishing 178 doubles titles and 167 singles titles (including 18 Grand Slam singles titles: 3 Austrlian, 2 French, 9 Wimbledon, 4 US).
Most Improved Player/Player To Watch (Female)
Jelena Jankovic shocked many by getting to the semifinals of the 2006 US Open. This is the same player who lost 10 matches in a row earlier in the year. However during the summer she beat V. Williams (the then defending Wimbledon champion at Wimbledon!), S. Williams (well into her comeback from injury) and then at the US Open rolled through Top 10 players S. Kuznetsova, N. Vaidisova and E. Dementieva. She was 5 points away from defeating J. Henin-Hardenne and her first Grand Slam final when she had a mental breakdown following a verbal altercation with the umpire.
Most Improved Player/Player To Watch (Male)
Andy Roddick made a believer out of me again by cavalierly dismissing his arch-nemesis Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals and taking a set from Roger Federer in the closely fought final match. If a few points had gone his way in the second set, we could have seen some really interesting tennis from Federer being force to win from two sets to one down, whch I do not doubt he would have done. With the addition of 8-time Grand Slam champion Jimmy Connors as "coaching consultant" Roddick has regained his swagger and increased the "pop" on his serve and, more importantly, his shaky two-handed backhand. All these things, combined with being the #1 American male player should bode well for Roddick's next 6-12 months. And he's just 24 years old.
Buenos Aires is also the location of the South America office of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
The very useful website Argentina Gay Travel Guide says that Buenos Aires has explictly banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1996 and has allowed same-sex couples to register civil unions with the City since July 2003.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I guess I was out trying to save this world when the news came out on the web that NBC Universal (who owns the SciFi channel) was not renewing Stargate SG-1 for an 11th season.'
Bizarrely, the spin-off series, Stargate Atlantis is not being cancelled.
Apparently the ratings were pretty awful for Stargate's 10th season, which has been airing without its blockbuster lead-in Battlestar Galactica (which returns for its third season on Friday October 6.)
Of course a lot of the "original programming" on the SciFi channel is repurposed or simply remakes. Stargate SG-1 of course is a spin-off of the curiously successful movie Stargate starring
Richard Dean Anderson Kurt Russell and the famously androgynous Jaye Davidson which originally aired on the pay-cable network Showtime. The Peabody-award winning Battlestar Galactica is of course a "re-imagining" of the NBC show from the early 1980s of the same name with some clever gender-swapping of the original characters and an even cleverer decision to hire real script writers before shooting the show.
What I find interesting and appealing about the show(s) which made up "SciFi Friday" are their positively Utopian, racially harmonious, vaguely Canadian ethos. Since Star Trek is off the air (despite recently celebrating the 40th anniversary of the airing of the first episode on September 8, 1966) these SciFi channel shows are the closest thing us progressive futurist/optimists have to sate our appetite for such portrayals.
I have found out that there is a $100 fee for a visa for U.S. citizens to enter Brazil, so I'm probably not gonna go there. (Apparently this fee is imposed because the U.S. charges Brazilian citizens one hundred bucks to enter the United States.)
Happily, American Airlines has reduced mileage requirements for international award tickets right now. Me and the other half are going to be on our long-awaited 15th anniversary vacation trip to South America September 18 to October 2.
Blogging may be light during that period.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
This Sunday September 10, Season 4 begins airing on HBO. The first and third seasons were the most incrediblely engaging, brilliantly acted, beautifully written pieces of dramatic episodic television that I have seen. I still don't understand why The Sopranos was getting so many Emmy plaudits while The Wire was shut out. Although the show has won the more prestigious Peabody award I am always surprised by the number of people who have never heard of the show (too cheap to get HBO?).
I finally saw the first episode of Season 4 on HBO On Demand tonight and was quite impressed. I saw some interviews with the principal actors of the show and they said the theme of this season is "edication." The main drivers of the plot in the first three seasons have left the stage and the first episode was really about updating the audience on where everyone has landed. In addition, the writers have indicated an increased focus on the youngest members of the Baltimore ghetto, by introducing a group of boys who could be any age between 10 to 16. It will be fascinating to see how the events of the upcoming season are reflected in the lives of these "shawties."
The Wire combines race, politics, drama, and crime with one of the most racially diverse casts on television. Check it out!
Roger Federer SUI (1) vs. Andy Roddick USA (9). Federer has accomplished an astonishing feat by earning his sixth consecutive Grand Slam final, the first man to do this in the Open area. Roddick has redeemed himself with people who predicted great things when he won his first title at Flushing Meadows in 2003 at the tender age of 21 but has lost two Wimbledon finals to Federer in 2004 and 2005. Head-to-head Federer dominates their rivalry 10-1.
There's no reason to think that Roddick's new-found confidence will erase the deficiencies Federer has been able to repeatedly expose in the American's game. It is true that Federer has not played "the new Roddick" (their last meeting was in the 2005 Cincinatti ATP Masters Series tournament) but I really don't think it will matter too much. Roddick should be pleased about regaining his place as the #1 ranked American player and making another Grand Slam final, he just unfortunately happens to be playing tennis in the era of one of the all-time greats.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Federer (in 4 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Federer.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Maria Sharapova RUS (3) vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne BEL (2). Henin-Hardenne has accomplished an astonishing feat by earning her fourth consecutive final of 2006, the first woman to do this since Martina Hingis almost achieved the calendar Grand Slam in 1997 (losing to Iva Majoli in the French Open final). She's already lost two of those finals this year to the soon-to-be-former World #1 Amélie Mauresmo and definitely does not want to lose a third.
However, Sharapova is finally in her second Grand Slam final after losing in five consecutive Grand Slam semifinals and has no intention of losing either. Although one would usually give the mental edge to the veteran in such a situation, this is Maria "I feel pretty" Sharapova we are talking about. She is the female version of Rafael Nadal or Lleyton Hewitt when it comes to mental toughness and intensity of concentration. This match will be decided between the lines, not between their ears. John McEnroe likes to call Henin-Hardenne "the Roger Federer of the women's game" so in some sense the Women's final is the Federer-Nadal final that everyone was expecting to see (but will instead get a Federer-Roddick final instead).
Since I am a huge Roger Federer fan readers of this blog will be surprised to read that I want the "female Nadal" (i.e. Sharapova) to win the match instead of the "female Federer." First, I reject Mcenroe's characterization of Henin-Hardenne as Federer-like because of their diametrically opposite off-tennis behavior and personalities. Federer is well-liked, appreciated by colleagues, fans and the press and a great public ambassador for tennis. Henin-Hardenne's generosity of spirit is as large as her diminutive stature.
However, if the tennis is what really will decide this match and not merely desire, I still think Sharapova has the edge. Sharpova has the better serve, better consistency and power on ground strokes. Where the Belgian has the edge is with movement, with net play and with variety of shots. But as both Jankovic showed today, when Henin-Hardenne is giving you point after point with double faults and you know how to smack the ball around, you can outhit and outlast her. I suspect Sharapova will get a tape of today's semifinal with Jankovic and apply some of the lessons learned in tomorrow's final.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Sharapova (in 3 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Sharapova.
Roger Federer SUI (1) vs. Nikolay Davydenko RUS (7). Federer had to come up with some good stuff to get past James Blake in four sets on Thursday. Davydenko did come up with some of his best stuff to get past a resurgent Tommy Haas from two sets down. Davydenko is a good player who has not had much success in the Grand Slam tournaments. However, Federer will not be denied his 4th major final of the year.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Federer (in 4 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Federer.
Andy Roddick USA (9) vs. Mikhail Youzhny RUS Amazingly, Nadal was taken out by the hunky Russian in the quarterfinals in four sets where he was comprehensively outplayed and out-hit. Roddick had to play his arch nemesis Hewitt in the quarterfinals going in with a head-to-head 2-6 deficit but he shut down the Aussie in straight sets. Youzhny was also able to take out the Bryan Brothers in Men's Doubles, preventing the American 6'4" twins from reaching their seventh consecutive Grand Slam doubles final.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Roddick (in 5 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Roddick..
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Amélie Mauresmo (FRA)) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS) Mauresmo looked very strong defeating Serena Williams on Tuesday night despite losing the middle set 0-6 to a very determined Serena. But eventually, The World #1 was able to prevail over the 7-time Grand Slam champion by using all her guile and defensive skills to lure Williams into a fatal orgy of errors. Sharapova has looked very sharp, just like she did at Wimbledon, but she also really has not been tested in any of her matches. At Wimbledon I expected Sharapova to come through a mentally crumbling Mauresmo, but I don't think so this time. I believe Mauresmo will live up to her seeding and make her 3rd final of the year.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Mauresmo (in 3 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Mauresmo..
Jelena Jankovic (SCG) vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) This is Jankovic's first time past the fourth round of a major, but after seeing her play at the JP Morgan Chase Open in Los Angeles I am not surprised to see her make a real dent on this year's US Open. She hits the ball hard and flat on both wings and doesn'y seem to have any nerves. She has a good but not great serve which is surprisingly effective at winning service games. She has already taken out to big hitters and may actually have a better chance beating Sharapova than Henin-Hardenne, since the Belgian has an unrivalled shot selection among the top players. Unless Henin-Hardenne gets nervous thinking about how historic her achievement of four Major finals in a calendar year will be I suspect Jankovic will be satisfied with her first major semifinal, and not her first major final.
WHO I THINK WILL WIN: Henin-Hardenne (in 2 sets).
WHO I WANT TO WIN: Jankovic..
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
That's right, "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula" also known as "L.A."
¡Cumpleaños Feliz, Los Angeles!
What did you do for the 225th birthday of the city, whch coincided with Labor Day this year?
I was in NYC at the time (at the US Open) and forgot to post this in a timely fashion, but hey, better "late than never" right?
The weather is not likely to cooperate tomorrow morning either, but the good news is that there really aren't that many matches left to schedule: Only 3 women's quarter-finals, the 2 semifinals (Friday night) and the women's final on Saturday night.
You'll notice, I said three quarterfinals. Jelena Jankovic shocked the tennis establishment (ok, ruined Mad Professah's prediction) by demolishing Elena Dementieva in just over an hour 6-2, 6-1. I give her a good shot against whoever wins the post-poned Davenport/Henin-Hardenne quarterfinal, but I will chime in with more specific smeifinal predictions after the quarterfinals are complete, which should be tomorrow night.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Amelie Mauresmo (FRA)) vs. Dinara Safina (RUS). Mauresmo looked shaky early in the tournament but as Tracy Austin remarked last week, the Frenchwoman generally plays better as she gets deeper and deeper into the draw. Safina has snuck through the draw without playing a seeded player. She is occupying the spot that was expected to belong to Martina Hingis. Safina is expected to make a breakthrough at a Grand Slam tournament but 2006 is Mauresmo's year. PREDICTION: Mauresmo in 2 sets.
Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Tatiana Golovin (FRA) . These two played a great 3-set match in the 2006 NASDAQ-100 Open in March which ended with a tragic ankle injury to Golovin forcing the Frenchwoman to retire after saving four match points in the second set to force a decisive third. However, that match was more thsn 5 months ago and Sharapova has looked very sharp in all summer long and in all her matches in New York. PREDICTION: Sharapova in 2 sets.
Lindsay Davenport (USA) vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne (BEL) This is a re-match of the aborted final of the Pilot Pen championships the weekend before the US Open started that Henin-Hardenne claimed when Davenport retired with an injury down a set and a break. This should be the best of the quarterfinals on the womens side of the draw, although I doubt the quality of the match will reach that of their now legendary 2003 Australian Open qurterfinal (won by the Belgian 9-7 in the final set!). Still, as Lindsay said today after winning a close, high quality match against Patty Schnyder (SUI), "I don't really have anything to lose." If she goes out there and plays risky aggressive tennis, she may just be able to beat the diminutive future Hall of Famer, but I suspect the nagging thoughts of imminent retirement will weaken Davenport's resolve, leading to another classic Grand Slam victory by the Player We Love To Hate. PREDICTION: Henin-Hardenne in 3 sets.
Jelena Jankovic (SCG) vs. Elena Dementieva (RUS) . This match up is also a repeat of a US Open Series final from a few weeks ago, the JP Morgan Chase Open which was won by Dementieva in 3 nail-biting sets. Jankovic took out pre-tournament fave Nicole Vaidisova (CZE) and outlasted 2004 US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in consecutive rounds. This woman has also beaten both Williams Sisters this summer. Don't hate her because she's not beautiful! I'd really like to call this match for the Serbian but Dementieva just has a way of getting through these matches! She does play well in New York, and I expect she will make her 3rd consecutive US Open semifinal. New Yorkers love a pretty girl, and Dementieva is the most pulchritudinously gifted of the women's final octet. PREDICTION: Dementieva in 3 sets.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
However, while this legislation would fix the 2008 election and beyond there are still some questions being asked about the result of the 2004 election. The New York Times reported that the state of Ohio will delay its plan to destroy the 2004 presidential ballots. As you may recall, it was Bush winning by 118,000 votes out of 5.6 million cast which determined the outcome of his race for re-election.
But, wait, there's more! It turns out that Robert Byrd (D-WV) also had a secret hold on The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (S. 2590). As Markos Moulitsas Zuniga says:
All other 99 senators are accounted for. It's pretty clear at this point that the other hold is Byrd. Time for him to fess up and try to explain why he thinks accountability is a bad thing.
Incredible. The two longest-serving senators in the Senate seem to have forgotten that they work for the people, and that it's the people's money they're playing with, not their own.
Indeed. November 7 is going to be a huge day for challengers over incumbents.
Friday, September 01, 2006
The picture was taken by Task Force communications coordinator PJ Serrano on the morning of Saturday August 26th in the Evondale neighborhood of Cincinnati during the Power Summit I attended last weekend. We were doing what is called a "canvass." I was part of a multiracial group of around 50 activists who were going to visit a neighborhood and talk to the residents about gay rights.
From 10am to about 11:45am we went door to door in a predominantly African American neighborhood, asking registered voters face to face their thoughts about equal rights for gay and transgender Cincinnati residents. We had explanatory language for transgender as people who "feel like they're not the gender they were born as."
If the person we spoke to was supportive, we asked them to sign a postcard which would be sent to their City Council member. Overall, 80% of the nearly 250 people the entire group talked to were supportive! Of course, a lot of the doors we knocked on did not have responses.
I personally talked to 8 people and knocked on something like 44 doors. Of the 8 people I talked to 4 of them signed postcards of support, one of them was undecided, 2 people were supportive but didn't want to take the time to fill out the postcard and only one person was completely unsupportive of equak rights for gay and transgender Cincinnati residents.
Part of the exercise was for us to illustrate that despite popularly held beliefs that people of color, particularly African Americans are less supportive of LGBT rights than other groups this can be shown to not be true if one takes the time to go to and engage in dialogue with African American voters.