Thursday, December 28, 2006

Please Help 'The Wire' Get The Attention It Deserves!

The "best show on television" has just concluded what is probably its "best season ever" (The New York Times). Season 4 focussed on public school education and reform, in different arenas. The four boys pictured above are Duquan, Randy, Michael, and Namond from the very beginning of the season. They are all in the same 8th grade class, even though Duquan should actually be in the 9th grade and Randy is small enough that simply by changing his uniform shirt he can easily be mistaken for a 5th, 6th or 7th grade student.

By the end of the season, two of the four are firmly entrenched in the drug trade, with one of them being trained as an apprentice hit man. The other two are either in foster care or in a group home. The Wire uses the children as an indicator of how The System in "Bawmore" chews up and spits out EVERYONE. Period. There's a lot more I could say about the show (the political intrigue, the internal police workplace dynamics, intimate race relations, excellent portrayal of LGBT characters and realistic representation of inner-city urban life) but I need to continue packing for my big trip!

It is incredibly compelling and heart-wrenching televised entertainment. Some movie reviewers are including this television show on their Top 10 lists for 2006. Both television critics at Entertainment Weekly ranked The Wire as the #1 show on television, ahead of 24, which this Fall won the 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Telvision Series.

As Bernie of notes, The Wire was inexplicably shut out of end-of-year award nominations from the Golden Globes. I support his call to action ("The Wire: Was Anyone Paying Attention?") to get HBO to be more proactive in working to see that in 2007 The Wire receives more awards recognition.

Viewers can start by telling HBO to commit their marketing efforts towards promoting The Wire for both the SAG nominations (even at this late date) and the Emmys, nine months from now.

Write to:
Chris Albrecht
Chairman and CEO
1100 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-6712
Phone 212.512.1000

Carolyn Strauss
President, HBO Entertainment
1100 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036-6712
Phone 212.512.1000

Whether writing to network executives or news editors, express the need to reward excellence and how The Wire embodies the highest standards of television in its writing, acting and producing.

Tell them how television is full of too much formulaic programming and how lower broadcast network viewership is directly related to that. Remind them that The Wire is simply the best drama on television, anywhere, and it deserves to be given awards befitting a show of such consistent quality

While I'm in India for the next 18 days I encourage all MadProfessah readers to write or call HBO to encourage them to support The Wire. You can also still view episodes from last season on HBO on Demand. Happily, we already know the show is coming back for a fifth (and probably final) season in 2008, but that's not the point. Entertainment with primarily African American casts appear to be less likely to be recognized by the entertainment industry and that should change. Now.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Perfidy of Banks, Part 2

Way back in January 2006 I wrote a post about how much I hate banks entitled "The perfidy of banks." Well, the rest of the year has not dampened my antipathy for the banking system. I actually have reasonably good online banking experiences more recently with Washington Mutual, Bank of America and Citibank. Now, I have another example of banking oerfidy to share.

In preparation for my upcoming trip to India I have had to make an international wire transfer of funds from a U.S. banking account to an Indian banking account. Having become accustomed to nearly instantaneous wire transfers between my U.S. domestic bank accounts, I expected something similar when I initiated the transfer on Tuesday, December 5, 2006.

The funds did not get credited to their intended account until Tuesday December 26!

But what is so amazing is that I was told that this IS NOT unusual. After I started enquiring with Citibank where the $%$U&*!! my money was, they told me that an electronic wire transfer can take "up to fourteen business days" to reach its destination. The funds were sent through the S.W.I.F.T. network (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) which means the funds are routed from bank to bank using unknown intermediary banks. The SWIFT protocol only requires an initiating bank and a beneficiary bank. Inquiry messages about previous transfers also go through the SWIFT network! I was told that there was no way that the initiating bank could communicate directly with the beneficiary bank. In this day and age of instantaneous internet-based communication I was dumbfounded.

"How does one send money from the U.S. to an international account?" I asked increduously.

"This is the best way."

One explanation for the delay is the involvement of the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Federal Reserve in international transfers of U.S. funds to foreign accounts. I still don't understand how businesses could tolerate such delays.

Also, I'd like to know how all those people in the movies and on television are instantly transfering money to the Cayman Islands and numbered Swiss bank accounts. I guess that's why they call it "fiction."

How long do YOU think a transfer of money from a bank account in the USA to a bank account at a different bank in another country should take?

To me, I think I could have Fedex'ed or DHL'ed a check to the person and had them deposit nito their account and that would have been faster.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

REVIEW: Casino Royale, Eragon, Charlotte's Web

On Sunday, I saw Casino Royale, which has been the best called "the best James Bond film since Goldfinger (1964)" and is currently enjoying a 95% favorable critical consensus (and 93% from users) at Although not a big fan of the James Bond oeuvre overall, I did enjoy Halle Berry in Die Another Day and of course grew up watching the classic 1960s and 1970s Bond movies (Dr. No, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, etc.) on television like lots of other people. It's always a pleasure to see Dame Judi Dench on screen, even if she only appears for a few minutes, and she plays 'M' the head of the British intelligence agency MI-6. The casting of modestly regarded British actor Daniel Craig (Elizabeth, Lara Croft: Tombraider, Munich) as the new embodiment of the most successful cinematic franchise in history was a gutsy move. So was the decision to make an official film adaptation of Ian Fleming's first book to feature the James Bond character despite the fact a unauthorized movie using the same material had been previously made way back in 1967.

The results are impressive. Although the director Martin Campbell was previously known for his work on the execrable Zorro movies, here he has crafted an absorbing, fast-paced pop movie spectacle packed with suspense and jaw-dropping stunt-driven action sequences. Even the script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Crash and Million Dollar Baby's Paul Haggis is not too outlandish (some of the more recent Bond films looked like they might not have even been shot with a script).

The centerpiece of the film is Daniel Craig, or more accurately his piercing blue eyes and rugged good looks. Although the James Bond films are clearly rooted in nourishing white male escapist fantasies (look, I can kill anyone with my bare hands with immunity! And bed as many women as I want with impunity! All the while using really cool gadgets and looking fabulous!) in Casino Royale the filmmakers are able to rescue the franchise from its cartoonish excesses reflected by the Pierce Brosnan films and infuse a large dose of vérité. This is done by actually showing the sweat, blood, bruises on Craig's well-sculpted (chemically enhanced?) body which are the results of killing people with your bare hands, being nearly poisoned to death and sprinting at top speed through an active construction site. The film actually starts with a black and white sequence, to add cinematic heft to its theme of verisimilitude.

The villain (the Bond villains are often the best aspect of the film) is ably played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen and "the Bond girls" were played by the exotically beautiful Caterina Murino and more traditionally pretty Eva Green. Green's part is pivotal to the plot and in I thought she was perhaps slightly miscast in the role as Bond's first love. Interestingly, Green, Craig and Nicole Kidman will be appearing together in Fall 2007 in the highly anticipated film version of Philip Pullman's first His Dark Materials juvenile fantasy novel: The Golden Compass. At one point this trilogy was outselling Harry Potter in England (Mad Professah reviewed the series in July 2006).

Overall, Casino Royale is a well-made, entertaining genre (spy, action/adventure) film which features a handsome movie star in his first breakout role.


Early Monday morning while other people were probably unwrapping presents or biting their tobgues so as mot to start or contune arguments with rarely seen but always annoying family members, Mad Professah fled to the multiplex, the well-maintained Burbank AMC 16 movie theaters, and saw Eragon and Charlotte's Web.

Since I have read the first two books by Christopher Paolini in the now-named Inheritance trilogy (Eragon and Eldest) and of course loved the Lord of the Rings book and the brilliant Peter Jackson film versions I have been curious how the film adaptation of Eragon would turn out. The reviews have been brutal (12% critical consensus favorability on While it is true that the main criticism is that the source material is somewhat derivative of J.R.R. Tolkien's work as well as Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern with perhaps a smidgen of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series, this is not my main complaint. Eragon simply is not a very good movie. There are direct cinematic "homages" (theft is such a dirty word!) to Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and even The Karate Kid.

I blame the director Stefen Fangmeier, who previously had been a visual effects supervisor on numerous films with impressive visual effects like Jurassic Park, Twister, The Perfect Storm and Signs to name a few. As one critic said, "As a director, Fangmeier is an excellent special-effects supervisor." The acting is truly atrocious, with John Malkovitch the most celebrated offender. Oscar winner Jeremy Irons is not bad and newcomer Edward Speelers has an attractive, puppy-dog like cinematic presence. Sadly, he has the acting ability of a puppy also. Oscar winner Rachel Wiesz is fine as the voice of the dragon Saphira, although I think an actress with a voice in a lower register would have been more effective, but no actress could have rescued the clunky dialogue she is given to read. Sienna Guillory as Ayra is actually quite goodbut is not as forbidding as the written character. The less said about Djimon Honsou's appearance in the film, the better. I think at its core, the problem was trying to adapt a 500-plus page book into a 100-minute movie was just a fantastically bad idea.

There are some good aspects of the film (the visual effects are acceptable, the wide shots of the countryside and mountains are stunning, the dragon is well-done) but the bad aspects are overwhelming (the acting, the truncated storytelling and the production and costume design).


After walking out of Eragon with a bad taste in my mouth and with some more time to kill I noticed Charlotte's Web was starting in ten minutes so I ducked into that theater with no expectations. I had read the much-beloved book by E.B. White ages ago and had little memory of the story. The voice over cast is huge and stellar: Oprah Winfrey, Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, Robert Redford, Cedric The Entertainer, Dakota Fanning and Kathy Bates. Although it is a simplistic and child-like tale it is well-made and incredibly faithful to the heartwarming source material. It is really a perfect kids movie.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Passage To India

December 28th to January 16th Mad Professah will be on vacation in India. The other half and I will be travelling to New Delhi, Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur and Mumbai during a 17 day sojourn through mostly northern India. Most visitors to India do the "Golden Triangle" tour (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) and we decided to supplement that a little.

Needless to say, blogging will be intermittent, at best! I will try to post pictures to either my Fotki or Flickr sites, or both. I will try to post fewer pictures of food than the Argentina/Uruguay trip in September.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Draft Obama...

Rod 2.0 appears to be also interested in the question I asked earlier in the week: "Who (Obama, Clinton, Powell or Rice) is most likely to be elected President of the United States?" He posted the link to the Draft Obama ads which are going to be airing in Hawaii this week:

REVIEW: Little Miss Sunshine

I saw Little Miss Sunshine earlier in the fall at the Pasadena Laemmle 7 Theaters. It is hysterically funny. It is also an interesting commentary on body image, particularly in children.

It was released on DVD recently, in time for the holiday season (no, I'm not going to use the "C word") and the movie awards season. Interestingly, it is also getting some attention from the end-of-year critics Top 10 lists.

The movie stars Greg Kinnear as Richard, the head of a family who is trying to get his self-help book published and marketed. His harried wife Sheryl is played by the fabulous Toni Collette, whose gay brother Frank played by Steve Carrell, is the second most important Proust scholar in the United States and who recently failed at a suicide attempt.

But wait, there's more! Alan Arkin plays Grandpa, Richard's father who has been kicked out of a senior residence for illegal drug use. Richard and Sheryl have two kids, the teenaged Dwayne (Paul Dano) who reads Nietzsche and refuses to speak until he turns 18, and Olive (Abigail Breslin), a cute, slightly rotund little girl who has a dream of winning a children's beauty contest (remember JonBenet Ramsey?) called Little Miss Sunshine.

The plot revolves around the road trip from Albuquerque to Anaheim with the entire "family" to allow the unlikely Olive to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine contest. At its core, the movie, written by Michael Arndt and directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, is a satirical meditation and subversively funny commentary on the nature of the American family and contemporary American mores.

It's running time is short (101 minutes) but the length of time the movie stays with you is significantly longer than most films I have seen this year.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Update on Nevada HIV Employment Discrimination Case

MadProfessah previously blogged about news reports of an HIV employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a Las Vegas, Nevada man against a Subway franchise last year. Now comes word that the suit has been settled, and the employee essentially won the case. Robert Hickman was hired as a manager of a Subway restaurant in November 2004 and when he became eligible for health benefits after 3 months of employment he noticed that the application required disclosure of HIV status. He disclosed to his employer that he was HIV-positive and worried about getting health coverage and was promptly discharged from employment the next day. With the assistance of Lambda Legal he filed a lawsuit against Donna Curry Investments doing business as Subway (Hickman v. Donna Curry Investments, Inc.)

On December 20, 2006 that suit was settled and a press release (excerpted below) issued by Jen Sinton, the Lambda Legal HIV Project lead attorney in the case (pictured above):

The settlement between Robert Hickman and Donna Curry Investments is fully executed. Among other things included in the settlement, the company agrees that its written policies will explicitly state that it does not discriminate against any qualified individuals with HIV. Additionally, all managers and employees in supervisory roles will be trained on how HIV is transmitted, thereby putting to rest any concern about HIV transmission in the food service industry, and they will be instructed regarding the legal obligation not to discriminate against existing or potential employees based on HIV or AIDS. According to the Nevada State Health Division, although Nevada has the nation’s 35th largest population, it ranks 14th in the nation for the rate of adolescents and adults living with AIDS.

These words by the successive plaintiff express Mad Professah's thoughts on this case most eloquently: "Employers must learn what the CDC already knows: 25 years of scientific study confirm there is no known risk of HIV transmission to customers or anyone else through the normal course of business at a restaurant."

Best (Women's) Tennis Matches of the Year

1. A. Mauresmo FRA d. J. Henin-Hardenne BEL, 2-6 6-3 6-4,Wimbledon Championships final.

Despite dropping the first set in under a half an hour, the Frenchwoman was able to come back and regain her nerve and win her first Wimbledon title and complete a Grand Slam championship. Bonnie DeSimone of ESPN (and others) agree with my assessment that this was the best woman's match of the year.

2. M. Sharapova RUS d. K. Clijsters BEL, 7-5 7-5, Acura Classic final.

Sharapova had previously never defeated the other hard-hitting Belgian and Clijsters had dominated the US Open Series hard court season the year before on her way to winning the 2005 US Open. This time, Sharapova showed that she was the dominant player on the hard stuff. In two very close, up and down sets the Russian pulled out the win through a combination of unbridled aggression and brilliant defense.

3. J. Henin-Hardenne BEL d. M. Sharapova RUS, 6-2 7-6(5) , Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships semifinal.

Henin-Hardenne wrapped up a career-best season of four Grand Slam finals plus the Fed Cup final by making the final of the year end WTA Tour Championships and simultaneously securing the calendar end #1 spot with this amazing defeat of Sharapova. The diminutive Belgian blasted the ball around the court in a display of shocking firepower, especially on the forehand side. The reigning 2006 US Open champ never had a chance to win and only a slight let down by the 2006 French Open champ towards the end of the second set allowed the score to be remotely close.

4. A. Mauresmo FRA d. S. Williams USA, 6-4 0-6 6-2, U.S. Open Championships 4th Round.

Mauresmo had only defeated the 7-time Grand Slam champion once in over ten meetings, and that win was on clay. However, after winning two Grand Slam titles in 2006, the French #1 player in the world was playing with increased confidence against a player who had very little on-court time in 2006 and was not in prime physical shape. After winning a very close first set which featured Mauresmo's athleticism and Williams' shotmaking power and inaccuracy. In the second set, Williams started playing with a little more margin for error and Mauresmo tried to trade strokes from the baseline as she struggled with her serve. The result was the Frenchwoman receiving her first bagel set against the American. Amazingly, despite this devastating turn of events, her nerves held and Williams started running out of energy to chase down balls and get into position to hit her power shots, which started to fly wildly out of the court. Mauresmo won the third and deciding set with relative ease.

5. N. Vaidisova CZE d. A. Mauresmo FRA, 6-7(5) 6-1 6-2, Roland Garros 4th Round.

2006 was a breakthrough year for a number of the younger players: Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic and Nicole Vaidisova. All of these players had important wins this year (Vaidisova and Jankovic made their first major semifinals, Safina defeated Sharapova at the French after being down 2-5 in the third set, Ivanovic destroyed Martina Hingis to win her first Tier 1 title and the 2006 US Open Series). The best of these matches was at Roland Garros, where Mauresmo, playing in her country's Grand Slam championship for the first time as a Grand Slam champion herself, still did not produce her best tennis. However, the young Czech player was not overwhelmed by the occasion or the opponent and won the match by continuing to go for blistering winners on both sides, reminiscent of the young Monica Seles.

S. Williams USA d. M. Shaughnessy USA, 6-7(4),6-1,6-4, J.P. Morgan Chase Open quarterfinal.
A. Mauresmo FRA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 6-3 3-6 6-2, Wimbledon Championships semifinal.
J. Jankovic d. V. Williams USA, 7-6(8), 4-6,6-4, Wimbledon Championships 3rd Round.
K. Clijsters BEL d. M. Hingis SUI, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, Australian Open quarterfinal.

Who will be the first non-White Male elected President?

After reading Bernie's post on the topic of the likelihood of a non-white male President being elected in 2008 ("Is America Ready?" ) I decided to put this poll up on my site. The incipient candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton make the question of the monochromatic nature of the first 43 presidents extremely relevant right now.

Who is most likely to be elected President first?
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Barack Obama
Colin Powell
Condoleezza Rice free polls

50, 746 AAdvantage miles for 2006

My return flight ATL-ORD-LAX from Saturday just posted to the website. I am officially platinum on American Airlines :-) with 50, 746 miles flown in calendar year 2006. (Plus I used miles to fly to Buenos Aires in September, so my miles flown number is much higher than a mere 50, 000 for the year, and 2006 is not over yet!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NJ Governor Sign Civil Unions, Needle Exchange and Gender Identity Bills Into Law

New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine signed that state's civil unions bill into law today. The new legislation, which goes into effect in 60 days on February 19, 2007, gives civilly united couples all the state-regulated rights and responsibilities of marriage except for the title "married."

New Jersey will become the third state with a civil unions law (after Connecticutt and Vermont) and the fifth to have statewide recognition of same-sex couples (VT, CT, Massachusetts and California).

In addition, yesterday Corzine signed into law a gender non-discrimination bill (S. 362) which added "gender identity or expression" to New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination as well as a bill (S. 494) that appropriates $10 million dollars to fund needle exchange programs in six different municipalities to reduce HIV/AIDS transmission through injection drug use.

California State Supreme Court Agrees To Decide Marriage Equality Case

Although not really a surprise, the California Supreme Court made it official Wednesday by unaninmously agreeing to decide whether the state's current marriage laws which do not allow same-sex couples to be issued marriage licences are unconstitutional or not.

The court agreed to hear the appeal of an October 2006 appellate level split decision which had overturned a lower court decision (pdf) by Judge Richard Kramer on March 14, 2005 which had declared that California's marriage laws discriminate unlawfully against same-sex couples in violation of the state and federal constitutions.

"The same-sex marriage case" is really six consolidated cases, known as In re Marriage Cases (S147999).

On September 6, 2005 the California legislature became the first state legislative body to pass a bill to open marriage to same-sex couples. The very next day Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his intention to veto the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (AB 849 by Leno), which he did on September 29, 2005. On December 4, 2006, Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) reintroduced the legislation to the California Assembly, as AB 43.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brains over Brawn: Yul defeats Ozzy on Survivor

One of my (not-very) guilty pleasures is watching the reality television show Survivor. MadProfessah, like many other people, was disturbed and uneasy when CBS announced that for Survivor: Cook Islands the teams would be separated by race and ethnicity: Black, White, Asian and Latino. One, race is a social construct, so to arbitrarily select and segregate contestants into four "races" seemed to me as a potentially dangerous social experiment which could reinforce negative stereotypes based on racial classification. However, it did ensure I would watch this 13th edition of the now-hoary veteran of television sweeps, which wasn't a given after the disappointing Survivor: Panama.

In the end, Survivor did not end up precipitating a racial cataclysm, as 31-year old Yul Kwon, a management consultant from San Mateo, California with degrees from Stanford University and Yale Law School won the million dollar prize. However, the show was closely watched and commented on by racial minorities all over the blogosphere.

Even people who don't regularly watch television were interested in the results. A Korean friend of mine named Steven Lee called me seconds after the vote was announced on Sunday and said "Kimchi Power! Yul won Survivor!" First I was pissed off and hung up on him, since I hadn't seen the show and I was MOXI'ing it for viewing later in the week. But then I was interested as to how many other people had been following the Survivor storyline, particularly after the controversial racial segregation of the teams was ended and the season became just a regular edition of the show.

Interestingly, the show actually became even more compelling to watch, thanks to a clever gimmick which was revealed when there were only 12 contestants left evenly divided into two "tribes," Aitu and Raro. Contests had a thirty second opportunity to mutiny from one team to another. Ultimately, two white contestants, Candice (who deserted first) and Jonathan (who followed a few seconds later) left their majority-minority team of 2 Asian Americans, 1 Latino male and 1 African American female (Yul, Becky, Ozzy and Sundra) to join their original white team members Adam and Parvati. This skewed the balance of power to 8 Raro members to 4 Aitu members which insured that if any merge of teams occurred, Raro would have the numbers to eliminate the Aitu team one-be-one. Amazingly, the team with four minority individuals competing with absolutely everything to lose proceeded to beat the Raro team in consecutive immunity challenges, especially a crucial one in which a surprising two members were voted out at a tribal council instead of one. This led to the merge to form Aitutonga occurring when 9 contestants were left, with 5 former Raro members (4 white members and one Black male) and 4 former Aitu members.

This should have been the end of the story for the former Aitu tribe except that Yul had found the "immunity idol" which gave him the power that if he ended up with the most votes for elimination at tribal council the person getting the next highest vote tally would be sent home instead. Amazingly, Yul showed the immunity idol to the obstreperous and conniving Jonathan, who being generationally removed from his younger, lazier tribemates was inclined to doublecross his new tribemates for the old tribemates he had previously deserted during the now-infamous mutiny. Jonathan was convinced he would go further with the successful Aitu alliance and votes with them to eliminate African American male Nate. This left the Aitutonga with equal numbers from the former tribes: four (white) former Raro members versus the multicultural former Aitu members. Ozzy continued to physically dominate every immunity challenge and the Aitu alliance eliminated the traitorous Candice followed by the untrustworthy Jonathan. The pulchritudinous Parvati and Adam quickly followed and the Final Four consisted of the original Aitu members, one of the most improbable events in Survivor history. They had eliminated all 8 members of the opposing Raro team following the infamous mutiny way back in episode 8.

After another twist in which it is revealed the Final Tribal Council to decide who gets the 1 million dollar check will involve three contestants instead of the usual two, there is a tiebreaker (fire making) between Becky and Sundra which African American female Sundra loses.

In the final voting the jury (which consists of the last 9 people voted out of the game, i.e. the entire Raro team and Sundra) split almost evenly with 5 voting to award it to Yul who had been the clear Mastermind behind the game and 4 voting for Ozzy who had physically dominated the game like no one else since Colby in Survivor: Outback. Becky deservedly received no votes. Interestingly, 3 of the 4 white members of the jury voted for Yul. Asian Americans split their votes (I'm not clear as to why Asian American Jenny felt that she should vote for Ozzy instead of her former team member Yul). 2 of the 3 African Americans voted for the Latino finalist over the Asian one (with Sundra voting for Yul and Nate and Rebecca voting for Ozzy). There were no Latino members of the jury, which may have also been the reason why Ozzy lost. All in all it was an excellent season, I really don't know what the producers of Survivor can do to make the next one as remotely interesting or entertaining as Survivor: Cook Islands was.


Queer of the Year Poll out now

Now that *yawn* we know who won Time magazine's Person of the Year the more intersting race for Queer of the Year can begin. Initiated by blogger Joe.My.God, here are the choices
Who Is The Queer Of The Year 2006?
Laurel Hester
Lane Hudson
Kim Coco Iwamoto
Mike Jones
Rosie O'Donnell

Book Meme

Here's a fun book meme that Craig and Terrance have already addressed:

1. Find the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Go to the fifth sentence on the page.
4. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog.
5. Name the book and the author, and tag three more folks.

Here's mine:

"Your words are vague," Nacoya pointed out with the acerbity of an elder who has lived long enough to see many a youth succumb to folly. Using a tone well practiced from her days as a servant in the nursery, she added, "Since neither the Anasati nor the Acoma stand to gain if Ayaki fails to inherit his Lordship, I suggest you be more specific."

Jiro inclined his head with the barest suggestion of malice.

This quote is from Servant of the Empire by Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. It's the second book in a fantasy trilogy by these authors which started with Daughter of the Empire and ends with Mistress of the Empire.

I will tag Ben, Leo and Joe next. You're it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Black AIDS Institute Responds to Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization

Yesterday, the Black AIDS Institute issued a press statement in response to the recent reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act. Here are some excerpts from the statement.

There are now more Americans living with HIV/ AIDS than ever before, half of them African American.

But as need has grown in all regions of the country, funding has lagged everywhere as well. Since 2001, the Ryan White CARE Act budget has grown by 14 percent, to just under $2.1 billion in fiscal year 2006. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meanwhile estimates 200,000 Americans have become newly infected in that time period – a 25 percent jump – bringing the total number infected to more than a million.

Of those who are in treatment, 30 percent are paying for it through the CARE Act’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Waiting lists for ADAP appear in states around the country every year, and South Carolina recently announced that four people have died this year while languishing on its hundreds- deep waiting list. Sixty percent of ADAP clients are Black; 59 percent of CARE Act clients overall are racial minorities.
In February, the Institute will release a report detailing these treatment policy challenges and examining how they have affected Black America. The report, which is the latest in a series on the state of AIDS in Black America, presents the experiences of Black doctors, patients and patient advocates -- and it offers their ideas on closing an ongoing racial death gap in America’s epidemic.

The reauthorization deal – brokered by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) – punts the ball on dealing with these difficult questions. It reauthorizes the CARE Act for just three years, rather than five, and assures s tates with older epidemics they won’t lose more than 5% of their current funding. Over the next three years, Congress must sit down and hammer out a new program altogether – a process observers say Kennedy’s office is dedicated to starting immediately in the new Congress next year.

Ultimately, however, no amount of reform will impact the trajectory of this epidemic if Congress doesn’t take the most crucial step: fully funding the CARE Act, along with other prevention and treatment programs, and finally developing a national plan to end the AIDS epidemic in America. The U.S., as a donor nation, demands that developing countries have a national AIDS plan. Yet, we don’t have one of our own, and no one is developing one. As the axiom goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” With 40,000 new infections a year for the last 10 years, between 25% and 50% of people living with HIV undiagnosed, and only about 30% of people with HIV in appropriate care, we're failing. Washington must develop a plan that stops new infections and assures that no American will go without life- saving AIDS treatment and care, period. Everything else follows from there.

The President signed the reauthorization bill into law today (Tuesday December 19th). The White House issued a fact sheet on the legislation:

The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Modernization Act Revises And Extends Services Under The Ryan White Care Act (RWCA) Program. This Act will:

  • Provide More Flexibility To Direct Funding To Areas Of Greatest Need. New supplemental grants will be provided to States with an increasing need for HIV/AIDS-related services due to limited access to health care, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and other relevant factors. The program's formula for awarding funds will also be updated to consider the number of HIV and AIDS cases – the previous formula considered only the number of AIDS cases.
  • Target Money To Core Life-Saving Medical Services For Those In Need. Grantees under Titles I, II, and III of the program will use no less than 75 percent of funds to provide core medical services. In addition, the reauthorization calls for the Early Intervention Services grant program to provide core medical services for individuals with HIV/AIDS in underserved populations.
  • Require More Aggressive Oversight Of RWCA Programs. For example, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will be required to submit biennial reports describing barriers to HIV program integration. In addition, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will be required to conduct an evaluation concerning how funds are used to provide family-centered care involving outpatient or ambulatory care services under Title IV of the RWCA Program.
  • Standardize Minimum Requirements For The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). The Secretary of Health and Human Services will develop and maintain a list of core ADAP medications needed to manage symptoms associated with HIV infection. States will be required to ensure that their programs, at a minimum, provide these core medications.
The nationa's largest (and most useless) LGBT organization, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement in response on the bill signing, also. Strangely, the Task Force did not issue a statement.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2006 Weblog Awards Announced

Pam's House Blend repeats as Best LGBT Blog for the second year in a row. Last year, the results were close but this year it was a blow-out

Pam's House Blend            40.91%      2227 votes
Gay Patriot 22.89% 1246
Towleroad 15.45% 841
Dorothy Surrenders 4.52% 246
The Republic of T 3.71% 202

There were 5443 votes cast in this category.
Also, Best Blog was DailyKos which barely beat out the odious Little Green Footballs, 35.48% (19,555 votes) to 33.76% (18,606) votes out of 55,120 votes cast.

Lindsay Davenport YouTube Tribute Available

Craig Hickman has put up Part 1 of his tribute to Lindsay Davenport, who is pregnant and will most likely not be playing tennis again. Go check it out. Interestingly, Part 1 of the tribute highlights some of the classic matches Davenport had versus fellow American Venus Williams, particularly the instant classic 2005 Wimbledon Final, probably the best Women's Tennis match of the last decade.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Back in La La Land...

Back in Los Angeles. Travelled ATL to ORD (delayed 1 hour) and then ORD-LAX (delayed 2 hours).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Leaving A-town

Back to Los Angeles, hopefully uneventfully. Arriving at 7pm. Will post more tomorrow or much later tonight!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lindsay Davenport is pregnant and is unlikely to play again

Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog was the first place I saw the news that former American #1 and 3-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport is pregnant! The news is also appearing on On The Baseline and many other websites now.

The first reports were that she would just miss the start of the 2007
WTA season but soon there was a quote releases from Lindsay saying that she "can't imagine playing again."

Lindsay Davenport won the 1998 U.S. Open over Martina Hingis 63 75, the 1999 Wimbledon final over Steffi Graf 64 75, and the 2000Australian Open over Hingis 61, 75. She finished #1 on the WTA Tour four times, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2005. She finished 2006 ranked #25.

Golden Globe Nominations Announced

Craig Hickman has the T on the Golden Globes award nominations which were announced in Los Angeles on Thursday. Here's Mad Professah's picks:
Drama, The Queen
Comedy or Musical, Dreamgirls
Actress (Drama), Helen Mirren, The Queen
Actress (Musical or Comedy), Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Actor (Drama), Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Actor (Musical or Comedy), Will Farrell, Stranger Than Fiction
Supporting Actress, Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Supporting Actor, Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Foreign Language Film, Volver
Director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Screenplay, William Monahan, The Departed
Ths is how I would vote, if I were a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Note linked movies above have been reviewed by Mad Professah.

New Jersey Approves Marriage Apartheid

Ok, so maybe the title of the post is a bit provocative. What New Jersey through its elected state representatives has done today is enact a civil unions statute in an attempt to give same-sex (civilly united) couples in that state equal state recognition, rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex (married) couples now enjoy in response to a landmark ruling by the New Jersey State Supreme Court issued on October 25. The vote Thursday was 23-12 in the State Senate and 56-19 in the State Assembly. Governor Jon S. Corzine has said he will sign the bill into law. New Jersey became the third state after Vermont (2000) and Connecticut (2005) to enact a civil unions statute legislatively. California's comprehensive domestic partnership statute is pretty close, but is not called a civil union. As I (and many others) have pointed out, civil unions are not the same thing as marriage. Separate is NOT equal.

Interestingly (feeling guilty?) the New Jersey legislature also passed a bill to add "gender identity of expression" to the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Democrats Pick Up ANOTHER Congressional Seat

Republican Henry Bonilla (Texas-23), an anti-gay, anti-immigrant Latino (or should I say Hispanic?) 4-term incumbent Republican congressman from the southwestern section of Texas was beaten by Ciro Rodriguez for the last contested U.S. House race of 2006.

Democrats now have 233 seats, more than Republicans ever had in their "reign of error" from 1994 to 2006.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Arrived in Atlanta

My direct flight LAX-ORD-ATL was cancelled due to weather in Chicago. Quelle Surprise! (The news was delivered to me by text message to my cellphone just as I arrived at the airport.) So, I had a couple of options: LAX-DFW-ATL (1959 miles) or LAX-MIA-ORD (2936 miles) getting in about an hour later.

Guess which one I picked?

LAX-MIA-ATL, of course! This way, if I have to be routed through Dallas on my way back I still will surpass the magic 4,542 miles I need to achieve Platinum status.

The flights were uneventful except I hate Miami's airport. It's under construction. I had to hoof it from arriving at E8 all the way to my connecting flight at A3 in just under 20 minutes before boarding started.

Anyway, in ATL until Saturday afternoon...

Off to Atlanta...

I'm en route to Atlanta today, via Chicago O'Hare on American Airlines (of course) so there will be light blogging today and possibly for the next few days....

If anyone has suggestions for restaurants to check out in "A-Town" drop me a note. I'm back in Los Angeles on Saturday

Monday, December 11, 2006

Queer of the Year Poll

A blog I discovered recently and quite admire, Joe. My. God, is conducting a poll for Queer of the Year. There are a lot of blogs participating, like Pam's House Blend, Queer Beacon and Page One Q, among others. Similar to Time magazine's Person of the Year, except this person answers the question:

"Which queer person most advanced the state of the gay rights movement in 2006?"
I'd like to hear from people (in the comments) about suggestions. My own response to the initial post is Mike Jones, the guy who was responsible for outing evangelist Ted Haggard right before the November 2006 midterm elections where the Democrats were able to re-establish majorities in both houses of Congress.
On another note, voting for the 2006 Weblog Awards in all categories, but most importantly, Best LGBT Blog, is now open. Go vote! (I did. You can do it every 24 hours until polls close on December 15, 2006.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Showtime's Sleeper Cell Returns for Season 2

Showtime Networks excellent television series Sleeper Cell with its disturbingly attractive Muslim terrorists returns tonight with a second season of eight new 1-hour shows
to be broadcast in eight consecutive nights in a "television event."

I watched most of the first season of the show and
was generally impressed, especially with Michael Ealy,
who plays the 30-year old African American undercover
FBI agent Darwyn Al-Sayeed who actually is a practicing Muslim.
The contradictions and complexities in the role
are handled well by this actor, who I had not really
noticed before (Barbershop, 2 Fast 2 Furious), but
will certainly pay more attention to in the future!

I'll try and have a review of the show later in the week.

Back in LA from NY: At 45, 458 AA miles now

Flew back from New York last night to Los Angeles in the middle of a quite intense rain storm (that Tony! Toni! Toné! song is a lie! ) just in time to make a lovely holiday party in North Hollywood.

While on my way to JFK I stopped by Mecca the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn to get Trinidadian take-out at Gloria's West Indian Restaurant (764 Nostrand Avenue @Sterling Place; 718-773-3476) and Barbadian baked goods at Cock's Bajan Restaurant and Bakery (806 Nostrand Avenue @ St. John's Place; 718-771-8933). I'm always amazed at how predominantly West Indian the area along Nostrand Avenue is, from between Church Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. As longtime readers of this blog know, I have been unable to find authentic West Indian food of the kind found along Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn anywhere in Los Angeles, although it is an outstanding quest of mine and I have found some other interesting finds during the process (Joan & Sisters; Tigeorge's). More details on the delights of Gloria's cooking will be forthcoming in the next few days.

This was no insignificant detour; I left the sublet in Greenwich Village a few minutes after 1pm for my 5pm flight and by travelling by subway the entire way barely made it to my gate around 4:20pm, which thankfully boarded late so I was able to get some snacks for the flight from one of my favourite East Coast baked goods chains, Au Bon Pain. I'm just thankful I was in a civilized city which has public transportation which runs directly to the airport, unlike Los Angeles!

I currently have 45, 458 in my American Airlines frequent flyer miles flown in 2006 account (although their website is behind and only lists 42, 983). I fly to Atlanta on Tuesday and when I return next week, I will be just over my goal of 50, 000 for the year, and AAdvantage Platinum status for 2007.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

REVIEW: Landmarc Restaurant (New York)

Friday night we had dinner at a very nice restaurant in the TriBeCa section of New York City called Landmarc (179 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013). Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery so I have no pictures to show you. The decor was urban industrial chic, with lots of subdued metallic hues. The food was outstanding. The clientele included a fair number of young children and well-dressed New Yorkers (sequined blouse for dinner? Oh...puhleeze!) on a very cold evening. Amusingly, seated next to us were two "attractively grunge-y" guys who we thought might be gay eating with two young children (under 5 years old). One of the people we were having dinner with said "Two straight guys having dinner with kids in this neighborhood? They must be gay." It turned out that the mystery diners were Ed Burns (star of Saving Private Ryan and more recently HBO's Entourage and husband of ex-supermodel Christy Turlington) and Chris Martin (lead singer of Coldplay and husband of Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow) with their kids Grace (Burns) and Apple (Martin).

For dinner we ordered a 2002 Bodegas Nieto Senetiner Malbec Cadus ($45) and appetizers were fried calamari with spicy tomato sauce ($10) and grilled octopus with potatoes, tomatoes, chrorizo and vinaigrette ($10). Our entrees were two specials: Australian lamb chops on watercress ($33) and venison stew over vegetable risotto ($30). We had intended on having the steak tartare with grilled country bread and field greens ($24) and the grilled pork chop with sauteed spinach, caramelized onions and apples ($26) but the attractive server immediately convinced us to switch with her confident recitation of the specials (without the prices attached, which we only discovered when the bill arrived). Everything was excellent, starting with the fresh country bread with butter with a salted crust on top. Both appetizers were generously sized and absolutely delicious. The lamb was extremely flavourful, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic and served medium rare. The venison stew was also tasty, with medium rare chunks of meat swimming in a hearty gravy accented by small pieces of interesting vegetables.

Dessert consisted of a number of miniatures: creme brulee, nutella eclair, lemon tart and chocolate mousse ($3, each). The best of the lot were the creme brulee (creamy, with strong natural vanilla flavor) and the lemon tart (intense citrus zest).

I definitely intend to return to Landmarc again, next time with my camera, when I am in New York. In fact, apparently Chef/Owner Marc Murphy intends to open a second, much larger (10, 500 sq. ft.) version of Landmarc in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Spring 2007. I hope to visit it soon afterwards.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Barack (Hussein) Obama

Did you know that U.S. Senator Barack Obama's middle name is Hussein? He was named after his father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. Although he has only been on the national stage for just over 2 years and is in his first term as a United States senator, he is considered a frontrunner by many for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. He is after all, the fifth African American ever to be elected to the United States Senate, often called "the world's most exclusive club."

Apparently there are some who think that his middle name may cause Senator Obama some difficulty if he competes for the position of Leader of the Free World in 2008.

Even without the name issue (which MadProfessah does not believe will be a large issue), there are certainly other reasons Black gay people may not be supportive of Barack Obama's presidential candidacy.

I'm not sure who I am supporting for President in 2008, but I doubt it will be someone who doesn't think that same-sex couples should have exactly the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples.

Finalists for Best LGBT 2006 Weblog Awards announced

No, Gentle Reader, Mad Professah didn't make the list (not that we expected to). I am surprised that Rod 2.0 didn't make the final cut, since I personally think that's the best LGBT blog around (at least closets to my own sensibilities). Without further ado, here are the nominees:
  • Queerty
  • Keith Boykin
  • Dorothy Surrenders
  • Pam's House Blend
  • Ohlala Paris Blog
  • Gay Patriot
  • Transcending Gender
  • Box Turtle Bulletin
  • Towleroad
  • The Republic of T.

I must confess I have never even heard of Dorothy Surrenders, Transcending Gender or Box Turtle Bulletin. One good thing about blog awards is that it spreads the word about amazing blogs that you haven't heard of before. Just last week, I discovered Craig Hickman's tennis blog, and I am glad that I did! I'm going to check out all the nominees pretty carefully, but just off the top of my head I'm pretty partial to Keith Boykin, Pam's House Blend, Republic of T and Queerty.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

New Jersey: Think Equal

Blue Jersey has launched it's Think Equal campaign with an amazing video (hat tip to Pam Spaulding and Jay Lassiter) which riffs off the award-winning "Get a Mac" campaign featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long:

The video highlights one of the many ways that civil unions are different from full marriage equality. This is an important issue in New Jersey, of course, because the state legislature has to decide on how to react to the recent New Jersey State Supreme Court ruling which said that same-sex couples should be provided equal rights, responsibility and recognition by the State.

In New York and 800th Post

Wow...Blogger tells me this is my 800th post that I have made since I started regularly blogging in January 2005. Interestingly, my 200th post was back in August 2005.

Anyway, I'm in New York through Saturday, and we're going to (finally) go see the Broadway show Avenue Q tonight.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

US Prison Population Increases by 35% in 10 Years

This little item in the Los Angeles Times Friday caught my eye reporting the latest report from Bureau of Justice Statistics.

About 7 million adults — accounting for 3% of the U.S. population — were incarcerated, on probation or on parole at the end of 2005, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Of that total, 2.2 million individuals were in federal and state prisons or local jails, 4.1 million were on probation and more than 784,000 were on parole.


California, the most populous state, held the largest number of inmates (170,676). Only the federal system housed more, according to the annual survey by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The total number of inmates rose 35% from 1995 to 2005, but their racial composition was little changed. In 2005, blacks made up 40% of inmates, whites 35% and Latinos 20% — small changes from a decade earlier.

The rise of the prison industrial complex is a very disturbing aspect of modern life in America.
Why do Americans think that "lock 'em up and throw away the key" is a viable strategy to combat crime?
Civil Unions Don't Work

Here's a video from Blue Jersey explaining why they are fighting for full marriage equality and not simply civil unions. Civil unions don't work. Think Equal.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's That Time Of The Year... For Mileage Runs

Ahh, December. The holiday season. Crowded stores. Getting annual cards from strangers, acquaintances and friends. Sending out your own cards to the same people. And mileage runs. What's a girl to do if it is late in the year and you have flown 41, 508 40,508 miles (on American Airlines) so far but Platinum Status only is given to people who fly 50,000 miles per year? The solution is a "mileage run," which is a trip taken solely for the purpose of earning enough miles to get to the desired frequent flyer level.

Mad Professah has done mileage runs before but in recent years (i.e. post 9/11) since the air travel experience has so profoundly deteriorated while (thanks to the stunning price increase in crude oil) air fares have continued to increase the issue has not come up. However, in 2006, after a trip to Havana, Cuba and San Juan, Puerto Rico all on American Airlines as well as at least four transcontinental flights, LAX to EWR (Newark, NJ) twice and LAX to DCA (Washington, DC) twice I find myself in the dilemma. Also, with inceasingly sophisticated airline websites and looser booking restrictions (No Saturday night stay required, 7 day advance purchase instead of 14- or 21- day advance) mileage runs have started to look more attarctive and be more do-able. And so I was faced with the question: To whore for miles or not whore for miles?

Hell, yeah.

Well, the decision has been made. Tomorrow I'm off to New York City (LAX to JFK, 2475 miles each way, 4950 total) for four days/three nights to spend time with the other half and then on Tuesday I'm off to Atlanta, ostensibly to visit my brand new nephew, but it's all about the frequent flyer miles! The miles accrued from LAX to ATL while routing through ORD (Chicago O'Hare) adds up to 4692 miles which, for a grand total of 51,150 50,150 miles flown for the year. Technically, these trips are not really mileage runs, although when doing the math of "is it worth $272.60 to go to New York next week" the value of the extra miles is decidedly an important factor.

By reaching 50, 000 miles this year and earning Platinum status, for every mile I fly on American in 2007 I will earn two frequent flyer miles. I generally fly to the East Coast 4 times a year, so if I continue flying at that rate (plus I intend to go to Cuba again next summer and Buenos Aires again next year) I will earn enough for at least one free domestic (and possibly international) ticket. Before you consider a mileage run you should think about whether the benefit you will gain will outweigh the costs. In my view, I have met this standard, even though I will be travelling nearly 10, 000 miles in an 11 day period to do so.

If you would like assistance in planning your mileage runs, I recommend checking out the weekly e-fares portion of your favorite airline website, as well as the Dream Maps section of Yahoo! Travel. Two other useful resources are and which are for more hard-core (some might say obsessive) mileage runners but they have useful tools (like putting in airport anmes and calculating distances between them) as well as very active online forums and messageboards.

Marriage News: California, Maryland, United Kingdom

Yesterday, the newly elected (and re-elected) members of the California state legislature were sworn in, and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) re-introduced the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, co-sponsored by Equality California, the statewide LGBT political advocacy organization.

Also, the state Attorney General Bill Lockyer (soon to become the State Treasurer) asked the California Supreme Court to take up the appeal of marriage supporters in (the formerly named) Woo v. Lockyer, the consolidated constitutional challenge to California's marriage laws.

The State Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Conaway v. Deane, that state's equal marriage lawsuit, on Monday and the proceedings were webcast and archived.
MadProfessah has watched the video recording and it is quite compelling if one has any interest in law and civil rights. To me, it seemed like the plaintiffs' advocate, ACLU Maryland's LGBT Rights Project Senior Staff Attorney Ken Choe made the more compelling case, and the justices asked very few questions and were respectful throughout the entire hour.

Monday was also the one year anniversary of the United Kingdon's civil partnership statute going into effect. As Paula Ettelbrick's op-ed in yesterday's Los Angeles Times relates that 6500 couples have registered in the first year alone. The BBC reports that the figure is actually 15, 672 civil partnerships between December 1, 2005 and September 2006, with over 14, 084 in England alone.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Op-Ed on the "Global Licence To Marry" by IGLHRC head

Today's Los Angeles Times has an op-ed by one of my friends Paul Ettelbrick, the Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, entitled "A global licence to marry" (bizarrely, in the online edition of the paper the headline has been changed to "Global warming to gay rights") reflecting on recent advances in state recognition for same sex couples around the world. Here are some of the highlights:

Last month, South Africa joined the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and Spain in opening civil marriage to same-sex couples, allowing them equal economic benefits, legal rights and social status as families. The law, passed by an astounding 230-41 margin in Parliament, was in response to an equally notable unanimous decision last year by the South African Constitutional Court. It ruled that the post-apartheid constitution ensures the dignity and equality of all people — and that includes lesbian and gay couples wishing to affirm their love and commitment through civil marriage.

Days afterward, when faced with five Israeli lesbian and gay couples who had married in Canada, Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the government is required to officially register them as they would any other foreign marriage.


Denmark in 1989 became the first nation to legally recognize same-sex relationships, and Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland swiftly followed that lead. Much of Europe, including France, Germany, Portugal and Hungary, now recognizes same-sex partnerships for a range of purposes, including inheritance, property and social-benefits rights. Countries in formerly communist blocs — the Czech Republic and Slovenia — recognize partnerships, and Croatia has extended some economic benefits to same-sex couples.


When Britain's domestic partnership registration law went into effect last December, government ministers predicted that between 11,000 and 22,000 couples would benefit from the law by 2010. More than 6,500 same-sex couples registered just in the first year.

About 12,000 Canadian, 7,000 Dutch, 2,500 Belgian and 1,300 Spanish same-sex couples are already married.


TO BE SURE, the backlash prompted by increased gay and lesbian visibility, whether through marriage or other demands for equality, has been fierce. South Africa's decision has drawn angry responses from religious and community leaders. Angry crowds in Moscow last May jeered a few dozen lesbian and gay marchers and demanded that Russia be cleansed of the evils of homosexuality. Likewise, an international gay pride event in Jerusalem had to be held in a stadium — instead of as a parade — because of threats and lobbying from ultra-Orthodox Jews and some Muslim and Christian groups.


In the United States, President Bush has consistently pushed the radical measure of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, as has Australia's prime minister, John Howard.

Despite the backlash, one fact is self-evident. The trend toward recognizing the dignity and love of two people of the same sex will not disappear. As barriers to same-sex couples fall, courts, legislatures, religious denominations and businesses everywhere will need to respond.

As Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero proclaimed when his newly elected reform government approved same-sex marriage in 2005: "We are not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality."

You go, girl!

Russia Wins Davis Cup Over Argentina

After winning the crucial doubles match on Saturday, Russia clinched the 2006 Davis Cup when Marat Safin beat 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) Jose Acasuso on Sunday in Moscow. Craig Hickman has extensive details and an awesome slideshow of images from the championship tie.

The 2006 tennis season is now officially over. Sadness. But the Hopman Cup with Venus Williams and Taylor Dent starts in Australia in a little over a month.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

MARYLAND: Historic Live Webcast of Oral Arguments Before Highest Court Tomorrow

As Rod 2.0 and other outlets reported recently, the Maryland Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) will be holding a first-ever webcast of the oral arguments in the expedited legal challenge to the constitutionality of the state's marriage statute in Conaway v. Deane on Monday December 4th at 10am.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"All-One": Dr. Bronner Rules The World One Bathroom At A Time

It is probably the best soap in the world. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap is a ubiquitous feature of homes everywhere. Sadly, the creator of this useful elixir is certifiably insane:
Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Who else but God gave man Love that can spark mere dust to life! Poetry, uniting All-One! All brave! All life! Who else but God! "Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!"
Einstein, 1939, after Nazis & Commies united, proposed spacebombs that destroy all, unless we finally teach the Moral ABC's the real Rabbi Hillel taught Jesus to unite all in All-One-God-Faith. As teach astronomers Abraham - Israel - Moses - Buddha - Hillel - Jesus - Spinoza - Paine - Sagan & Mohammed, inspired every 76 years, 6000 years by the Messenger of God's Law, the sign of the Messiah, Halley's Comet: "WE'RE ALL ONE OR NONE!" "THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD!" "TEACH LOVE THY ENEMY!" "LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!" Israel-Moses-Buddha-Jesus-Mohammed: ONE! ALL ONE
The above text was transcribed by someone at Wikipedia from an actual Dr. Bronner soap label. Which flavor is your favorite? It's significant that another one of my favorite things, Trader Joe's, has been selling the liquid Peppermint castile soap in large quantities for several years now. I also like the Lavender, Almond and Tea Tree flavors.

I used to think that i was the only one who was a Dr. Bronner devotee but I see that the word has gotten around.

Fidel Clearly Gravely Ill After Missing Two Important Events

After spending two weeks in Havana, Cuba this summer I have remained interested in what happens in that beautiful country. This week there were two important events on the Caribbean island at which Fidel Castro Ruz did not appear. Today, December 2 is the 50th anniversary of the precipitating incident of the Cuban revolution. Fidel's appearance was widely expected and his absence was not mentioned. In addition, this week was the official state celebrations of the 80th birthday of their former "Dear Leader," which had been postponed from his actual birthday after he delegated his brother Raúl Castro to run the country in his stead.

Of course some people are happy that Fidel Castro is not going to be controlling what happens in Ciba for much longer. I just hope that whatever comes next improves life for the majority of Cubans on the island.

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006 is Today

Today is World AIDS Day 2006. There are numerous online ways people are acknowledging the occasion. A friend sent me a link to a Bristol-Meyer-Squibb website Light One To Unite which is interesting. The pharmaceutical company will donate $1 for every one who goes to the website and clicks on a particular link (up to a total of 100 000 US dollars). You can make a difference with your computer! Do it now.

Also, I have previously posted about the Letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to end HIV discrimination at the State Department.

Above is a map from the BBC reflecting worldwide HIV prevalence rates.


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