Monday, June 30, 2008
Elena Dementieva RUS (5) vs.
The movie is based on an eponymous comic book series (that I have never heard of) and features the big budget debut of the talented Russian director of Night Watch and Day Watch.
Bekmambetov has clearly been busy watching the oeuvre of David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club) and The Wachowski Brothers' Matrix franchise.
Wanted is so intense it's almost a self-parody. The movie starts with a guy running so fast that his wake is blowing paintings off the walls as he runs by them. Then the guy jumps through a 40th story window about 100 feet onto the roof of a neighboring skyscraper. And the movie gets more intense after that!
The plot of the movie is almost irrelevant. It's strong point is its visuals. And the visuals are very strong. The movie apparently revels in its R rating, because it is breathtakingly violent in some scenes. Not only is there the cartoon-like hail of bullets and explosions violence of The Matrix but there is also the bloody bone-crunching hands-on violence of Fight Club.
Despite (or, for some, because of) these features the movie is entertaining, if not memorable.
It will, of course, make oodles of money and probably generate multiple sequels.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The Los Angeles Times in today's front page story by reporter Dan Morain says that the proponents have raised $1.3 million while the good guys have raised $2.3 million to oppose the amendment which would ban gay marriages in the state. The Times has an interactive map on their website that one can view contributions for and against Proposition 8.
Since New England White is his second novel and is centered around a minor character from his first it is immediately at some disadvantages. First, the writing style and milieu in this novel is no longer new to the reader since we've seen this intimate, insider's view of academic society and the black bourgeoisie (dubbed "The Darker Nation" by Carter) in Emperor of Ocean Park.
But, instead of the central character of the book being a Black law professor at an elite New England law school (*cough* Yale *cough*) Carter has switched the focus to the wife (Julia Carlyle) of one of the other Black law professors in the first book who in the interim has now become not only a federal Judge but White House counsel and President of said elite University!
So Carter's second book is both comfortingly familiar and disappointingly unfamiliar simultaneously. Darn it, we liked Tal Garland from the first book and he barely has a cameo in this book, though his wife and child do appear repeatedly.
What Carter does do well in New England White is pose increasingly significant puzzles on the way to revealing the contours of a central mystery which involves a death. The format is a good one and his insight into the setting of his story and the sociopolitical commentary (albeit in a fictional context) is amusing and engaging.
The main (and nearly fatal) flaw of the book is the ending. In particular, the last 50 pages and the denouement of the plot include scenes which attempt to be suspenseful but in reality strain credulity and significantly weaken the overall impact of the novel.
Regardless, Professor Carter has found a very enjoyable (and lucrative) niche in the publishing world. I hope that he is able to produce another novel in this vein, although I would recommend he base the third book about Kimmer Garland, the character in common to the main characters of his first two books.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
"I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions."Unfrtunately, California will not be the only Western state voting on a measure to amend its constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Arizona's State Senate broke its own rules and placed SCR 1042 on the November ballot.
Friday, June 27, 2008
According to Ambiente, The Cuban Commission on Human Rights for people with HIV and Sexual Races, the Cuban League against AIDS, Elena Mederos Foundation, The Foundation LGTB Reinaldo Arenas in Memoriam, Elena Mederos Foundation, the Cuban Movement for Gay Liberation, the Havana Transsexual Collective, Havana LGTB Cultural Center and the Organization of Gay Political Presidio Reinaldo Arenas were all expected to participate in the march."
It was to begin in the "Don Quixote" park in the neighborhood of Vedado and march to the Ministry of Justice "with the goal of delivering their demands to the Castro government," according to Ambiente. Demands included the cessation of violence and repression against Cuban homosexuals, and an apology to the Cuban people for the introduction in the 60's of UMAP concentration camps (Military Units to Aid Production) that were created by the dictator Fidel Castro, to suppress and punish homosexuals and the religious youth who opposed his Marxist ideology.
The latest news comes from a Miami Herald story which confirms that Cuban gay activists were detained in an attempt to prevent the gay rights parade from happening.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
In Wednesday's Washington Times Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) published an op-ed promoting their HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act
Today, HIV is the only medical condition that renders people inadmissible to the United States. In fact, we are just one of 12 countries that prohibit, almost without exception, HIV-positive non-citizens from entering the country (China has recently overturned its ban). This policy places the United States in the same company as Sudan, Russia, Libya and Saudi Arabia.
We are glad that President Bush wants to weaken the ban - but we should simply strike it from the books so that HIV is considered like any other infectious disease. Our bill has been included in the Senate version of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) reauthorization bill and we hope that this legislation passes and is signed into law so we can finally get rid of this outdated policy.
The law we seek to overturn first came into being back in 1987, when a deadly, explosive epidemic spawned a climate of fear and ignorance that got the better of many well-intentioned people. A sense that HIV/AIDS was a dangerous disease that belonged exclusively to others - to people from another continent or those who practice a different lifestyle - hardened into a bunker mentality.
But in 2008, we know better. HIV is transmitted through sex or needle-sharing - not the casual contact that might lead a government to aggressively restrict movement. We have known better for years - which is why then-Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also supported overturning the ban.
Venus Williams and Serena Williams have won their first two rounds at Wimbledon pretty easily, and won the first round of their women's doubles. And they look fabulous doing it!
I have previously predicted that the sisters will meet each other in the women's final (for the third time!) on Saturday July 5th, which became more likely with Maria Sharapova's ignominious exit and Ana Ivanovic's narrow escape.
National HIV Testing Day is Friday June 27th. I'm very glad to see that New York City officials are getting serious about HIV testing in an urban population, although I do wonder how this program will go together with my report last week that New York City has been experiencing a curiously high false positive rate with certain oral HIV tests.
While Manhattan has long been the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in New York, with the highest incidence of both AIDS and H.I.V., the virus that causes it, the Bronx, with its poorer population, has far more deaths from the disease. Public health officials attribute this to people not getting tested until it is too late to treat the virus effectively, thus turning a disease that can now be managed with medication into a death sentence.
Several AIDS experts said on Wednesday that the Bronx campaign was the most aggressive testing effort they could recall in the nation. Two years ago, Washington, D.C., made a high-profile push to test 450,000 residents, enlisting celebrity endorsements and distributing 80,000 free testing kits, but the campaign resulted in only about 45,000 people being tested.
“What’s new here is that we are implementing it on this large a level,” said Dr. Donna Futterman, director of the adolescent AIDS program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, who helped New York develop the new program. “The Bronx has 1.3 million people. It’s bigger than most cities, bigger than Boston, bigger than Washington. We’re talking about a significant urban population.”
City officials estimate that 40 percent of the 830,000 people ages 18 to 64 in the Bronx have been tested for H.I.V. in the past year. Half of the remainder, about 250,000 people, have never been tested, and the goal is to test them first. Tests would be given at 40 designated sites, including clinics, community centers, churches and emergency rooms. Dr. Monica Sweeney, an assistant health commissioner for H.I.V. prevention, said the city had not set aside money specifically for the program, but would absorb the $12 cost of each test.
It's unfortunate that some bloggers are using the call for universal HIV testing as a rationale to relax protections on consent and counselling for HIV tests in New York State. Over my objections, California enacted AB 682 last year, which removed the legal requirement of post- and pre- test counselling in California, in an attempt to "routinize" HIV testing in the state.
AZCentral.com has the news:
The Arizona Senate has rejected a proposal that would have asked voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
The 14-11 vote fell two votes shy of what was required to send the proposal to the November ballot. Senators later voted to reconsider the measure at another unspecified date.
The proposal would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The salient figures for me were that 59% of Californians (compared to 50% of Americans) "believe homosexuality should be accepted, not discouraged by society."
Also, 62% of Californians (compared to 71% of Americans) "are absolutely certain about their belief in God or a universal spirit."
That last figure is an incredibly depressing statistic.
Haven't they read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The L.A. Times poll appears to be reflecting the results first seen in the Newsweek poll which showed a 51-36 advantage for Obama.
However, Gallup's Daily Tracking Poll has Obama and McCain tied at 45% each!
The movie was written and directed by King, and has had a love it or hate it reaction from most viewers. At IMDb there are an almost equal number of viewers who rated the movie 10/10 (5,822) as rated the movie 1/10 (5,814).
You can place Mad Professah in the first batch of reviewers. I thought it was generally well-written, and felt like an extremely long, bigger budget version of a really good episode of the show.
It contained all the features of the show which made it so popular with its fans: outrageous fashion, explicit sexual themes, male nudity, female bonding and thoughtful musings on love and relationships.
One slightly disturbing aspect of the movie was the inclusion of Jennifer Hudson as Carrie's assistant, playing a "magic Negro" character who assists Carrie with overcoming a great personal crisis. Although disarmingly well-played by Hudson, the character could have been eliminated from the movie without diminishing the impact of the film whatsoever.
I'm sure some of the negative reactions to the film are due to some of the emotionally heavy subplots but I actually appreciated the makers of the film attempting to address serious and important issues in the context of what after all is a summer popcorn movie. And they do quite a good job of dramatizing the issues and resolving them in a way that leads to a (mostly) happy ending.
Our preference would be for the government not to be involved in marriage, the most fundamental of institutions in a civil society. Why two people who want to be married should be required to get a license from the state is something of a mystery. Marriage existed long before the California or U.S. governments came into being and will continue long after they have been consigned to history. Whether a marriage is valid should be up to the people involved and the churches, synagogues, mosques or other religious institutions that choose to perform them or not.This is an interesting development, especially since in Sunday's Los Angeles Times conservatives Maggie Gallagher and Joshua Baker had a commentary entitled "Hate It/Love It" which summarized the Editorial Page reactions of major newspapers to the California Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality on May 15th. Apparently of the 12 of the 20 largest newspapers in the United States that published an opinion on the matter, 7 opposed the ruling, 4 supported it (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle) while 1 was unclear.
As a practical matter, however, the government has so entwined itself into our daily lives that state recognition is important. Filing taxes as a married couple or as individuals makes a difference, as does the ability to own real estate, make end-of-life decisions or adopt children. Considering all this and the importance of equality before the law, the high court's decision was justified.
It is argued that allowing same-sex marriage will infringe on the religious freedom of people who have a religiously based objection to it. It is hard to see the validity. Church and state are correctly separate in this country, and the fact that the state recognizes a union as a marriage doesn't mean that a religious person or institution has to recognize it or approve of it. It's hard to imagine a minister, rabbi or imam who objects to same-sex marriages being forced to perform one, and we would be the first to object if anybody tried it.
Over time same-sex couples will find, as has been the case in Massachusetts, where such marriages have been legal for four years, (and as heterosexual couples know all too well) that marriage is not always easy. Married people disagree about all kinds of things, from money to recreational preferences, and have to find ways to work out their differences.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In a June 21 email to supporters, Karen England of the Save Our Kids Campaign, the organization pushing the initiative, said the group has decided to concentrate instead on passing the so-called Marriage Amendment, which would enshrine in the state’s constitution the definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
“Since the start of the Save Our Kids initiative campaign, the political landscape in California has shifted significantly,” said England in the email. “The California Supreme Court's decision redefining marriage has turned the state's attention to the traditional marriage initiative on the November ballot. In the last month, our staff has worked overtime responding to the marriage decision and contemplating the future for traditional marriage in our state. After much prayer, consideration and consultation we have made the decision to suspend the Save Our Kids campaign to allow our staff and supporters to dedicate themselves to the Marriage amendment.”
Monday, June 23, 2008
Thanks to Wikipedia, the list of books which have won both the Hugo and Nebula award are:
1966/1965 Novel: Dune by Frank Herbert (READ, A+)On this list are some of my favorite novels of all time (Dune, Ender's Game/Speaker for the Dead. The Gods Themslves and The Dispossessed). All of the ones I have read on this list are excellent, except for Rendezvous With Rama which is incredibly dated and Neuromancer, which I barely finished and did not enjoy at all.
1970/1969 Novel: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (READ, A+)
1971/1970 Novel: Ringworld by Larry Niven (READ, A)
1973/1972 Novel: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (READ, A+)
1974/1973 Novel: Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke (READ, C)
1975/1974 Novel: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (READ, A+)
1976/1975 Novel: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (READ, A+)
1978/1977 Novel: Gateway by Frederik Pohl (READ, A-)
1979/1978 Novel: Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre
1980/1979 Novel: The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
1984/1983 Novel: Startide Rising by David Brin (READ, A+)
1985/1984 Novel: Neuromancer by William Ford Gibson (READ, B-)
1986/1985 Novel: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (READ, A+)
1987/1986 Novel: Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card (READ, A+)
1993/1992 Novel: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
1998 Novel: Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
2002 Novel: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (READ, A)
2004 Novel: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
I have reviews pending for American Gods, The Forever War and Forever Peace.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
1. Ana IVANOVIC (SRB). The reigning Roland Garros champion is now the World #1 player and is playing her first major tournament seeded #1. Last year she had the misfortune to be in the path of Venus Williams' rampage to the title although she did play a stirring match against Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinal the round before her thumping loss to Venus. Happily, this year Ivanovic's draw insures an almost clear path to a semi-final clash with 2-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams. Different Williams sister, same result. PREDICTION: Semi-finalist.
2. Jelena JANKOVIC (SRB). Last year, the less successful of the Serbian duo had her string of major semi-finals snapped by shock Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in a tough 3-set 4th round match. It was that match that made many a fan of "Maid Marion" although in the past year the Frenchwoman has not been able to repeat her success, she has managed to stay very close to the Top 10. Wimbledon has been Jankovic's least successful slam, never getting past the 4th round here. But this year Jankovic enters the grass court tournament having taken an unusual hiatus (for her) since the Roland Garros heartbreaker she lost to Ivanovic. Thanks to her improved seeding Jankovic shouldn't face another Top 10 seed until she meets Venus in the quarter-final, if Venus gets that far. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.
3. Maria SHARAPOVA (RUS). As usual, the draw is pretty kind to the WTA's "It Girl." Sharapova has potential match-ups with Sybille Bammer or Dinara Safina/Lindsay Davenport/Elena Dementieva/Lucia Safarova before a blockbuster semifinal against Venus. Sharapova likes grass and will be looking for revenge against whomever makes it out of the top half of her quarter. Personally I hope that it is Lindsay, but I think it will be Safina. And that's probably good news for Sharapova. PREDICTION: Semi-finalist.
4. Svetlana KUZNETSOVA (RUS). This year Sveta has a very nice draw and should have few problems getting to a quarterfinal against Serena. Unfortunately, Sveta appears to only play well every other year at Wimbledon and 2008 is scheduled to be an off year. As long as no-one tells her this, she should be able to match her best result at Wimbledon, otherwise Aggie Radwanska or one of the Bondarenko sisters could take her out in one of the early rounds. Losing early in a Wimbledon warm-up shouldn't increase her confidence. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist (at best).
5. Elena DEMENTIEVA (RUS). If she survives a 3rd round match-up with Lindsay Davenport, the quietest of the Russians will face Safina who just beat her at the 2008 French Open and then Sharapova after that. That is a gauntlet few players would survive and Dementieva has never played her best at Wimbledon, preferring the hard courts of America. PREDICTION: 3rd Round Loss.
6. Serena WILLIAMS (USA). Serena has already expressed "sadness" about Justine Henin's recent departure from competitive tennis and if you believe that I have a great bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Her draw is definitely tricky, with a potential 3rd round match with fading Amelie Mauresmo and a 4th round match with quirky Marion Bartoli. After that she could face a quarterfinal against Kuznetsova and a semifinal against Ivanovic. All of these are matches the 8-time Grand Slam champ could win with about half of them being matches she should win. I'll put my money on another all-Williams final. PREDICTION: Finalist.
7. Venus WILLIAMS (USA). The "best grass court player of her generation" (as commentator Mary Carillo calls her) is the defending Wimbledon champion. In typical Williams fashion, Venus has not played a single grass court match since her Cinderella run to the final in 2008. However, she has a pretty good draw, with only Sania Mirza, Daniela Hantuchova and Jankovic standing in her way of a potential semifinal showdown with Maria Sharapova (or possibly Lindsay Davenport). The question is, will Venus circa 2007 show up or will it be Venus circa 2004? Not having seen her play recently, I still give her great odds to get to her seventh Wimbledon final in 9 years. PREDICTION: Finalist.
8. Anna CHAKVETADZE (RUS). (Un)fortunately for Chakvetadze, she is in newly minted World #1's quarter of the draw which is relatively free of dangerous players. But it only takes one to take you out of the tournament and Ivanovic will happily do the job. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.
9. Dinara SAFINA (RUS). The 2008 French Open finalist has put the physical side of her game together and is starting to maximize her considerable tennis talent. Now comes the harder question of whether she can make the parallel improvements to her mental fortitude. A quarterfinal run at Wimbledon will indicate she is well on her way to doing just that. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.
10. Daniela HANTUCHOVA (SVK). The only player in the Top 10 who is
not from Russia, United States or Serbia, the Slovak is an excellent
grass court player, and if she is healthy should do well at Wimbledon this year. After last year's operatic loss to Serena Williams in the Round of 16, Hantuchova
can't be too happy that this time it's Venus that she could meet in this year's Round of 16. PREDICTION: 4th Round Loss.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
- Roger FEDERER (SUI). The 5-time Wimbledon champion has had a horrible 2008 (for him), coming into The Championships for the first time since 2003 without having won either a major or ATP Masters Series title. In addition, the last Grand Slam match he played, at the Roland Garros final a scant few weeks ago, the World #1 suffered his worst defeat ever, losing 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 to his arch-nemesis and World #2 Rafael Nadal. All of these factors multiply to increase the odds against Federer winning his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title. However, he has won 59 grass court matches in a row, and if there is any court in the world where he can still impose his will by sheer determination, it is Centre Court at Wimbledon--but this time he will have the person who took him out of the 2008 Australian Open in his half of the draw, Novak Djokovic. I think Roger will appreciate the opportunity for revenge. PREDICTION: Champion.
- Rafael NADAL (ESP). The 4-time consecutive French Open champion has also managed to be in the Wimbledon final for the last two years and in 2007 was a point or two from an unassailable lead in the 5th set. Miraculously, Federer was able to escape to win the title. In the year since that unlucky defeat Nadal has improved his game by quantum levels: his two-handed backhand is now a dangerous weapon, his serve which was previously merely effective is now occasionally lethal and his confidence is at near stratospheric levels. He really believes that he can beat anyone on any surface at any time. At Queen's Club he proved that he could beat the #4 and #3 best grass court players in the world (Roddick and Djokovic). Whether this can be repeated at Wimbledon will be revealed in the next fortnight. PREDICTION: Finalist.
- Novak DJOKOVIC (SRB). For most of this year, Djokovic has been considered the hottest player on tour having won the 2008 Australian Open title and two ATP Masters Series titles (Indian Wells and Rome). There was much discussion that the ever decreasing gap between the World #3 and the World #2--until the clay court season. Nadal has now defeated Djokovic relatively easily in three consecutive matches and the two have played an astonishing 11 times in the last year with Nadal winning 8 of their showdowns including every Grand Slam match The only way the two will meet at Wimbledon is in the Men's Final which would be a repeat of the Queen's final which was won by Nadal. PREDICTION: Semi-finalist.
- Nikolay DAVYDENKO (RUS). The hapless Russian finally broke through at "the fifth Slam" this year to capture his second ATP Masters series title in Miami. However he has never been able to get past the semifinal round of any major--it's highly unlikely that will change at Wimbledon. PREDICTION: Early round loss.
- David FERRER (ESP). Although there are now two Spaniards in the Top 5 players in the world, only one of them really has a chance to win the tournament. David Ferrer is not that Spaniard. PREDICTION: At best Quarter-finalist.
- Andy RODDICK (USA). The 2-time Wimbledon finalist has the game to win the title this year, but does he have the belief? The resurgent Nadal took out the American at Queen's, where Roddick had previously won the title 4 times before. And Djokovic has the weapons and tennis acumen to take out the American's more rounded game. If Roger Federer did not exist Roddick would probably have 5 Grand Slam titles (3 Wimbledons and 2 US Opens) instead of the sole 2003 US Open title. Unfortunately for Roddick, Federer does exist but fortunately they are in opposite sections of the draw thus year. PREDICTION: At least Semi-finalist.
- David NALBANDIAN (ARG). A surprising Wimbledon finalist (losing to Lleyton Hewitt in 2002) at age 20 a year ahead of his arch-rival Roger Federer, the hard hitting Argentine with impeccable timing and questionable stamina has long been a thorn in the side of the winner of every Wimbledon Men's singles title since 2003. Last year Nalbandian evened out their head-to-head rivalry by winning two consecutive matches on hard courts on his way to winning consecutive ATP Masters Series tournamenys in Madrid and Paris. Unfortunately, Nalbandian has not been able to find his late 2007 form this year and it is unlikely that he will make a mark on the 2008 Championships. PREDICTION: 4th Round Loss.
- Richard GASQUET (FRA). Last year's surprising Wimbledon semi-finalist (by defeating Roddick in a garish display of over 90 winners) has not been making much of a splash on the ATP Tour or in the major tournaments since then. Although perhaps it was the Frenchman's breakthrough that spurred his countrymen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils to great success in the first two major tournaments of 2008. However, since his pitiful performance in Davis Cup against the U.S. this spring "Richie Red Shoes" has been worse than pitiful, he has been absent. PREDICTION: Early Round Loss.
- James BLAKE (USA). The second best American player has long been in the shadow of his lightning-serving compatriot but has managed to follow up his breakthrough year in 2006 to maintain his berth in the Top 10 for nearly two years. Unfortunately he has not been able to bring his best tennis to the majors so far (except at his hometown Grand Slam in New York City). He definitely has the game and the physical athleticism to do well on grass. Tough break being in Roddick's quarter of the draw. PREDICTION: 4th Round Loss.
- Marcos BAGHDATIS (CYP). Being a finalist at the 2006 Australian Open has been a career highlight so far for the flashy Cypriot who has repeatedly been involved in some of the best matches in Grand Slam tournaments (v. Hewitt in Australia this year, v. Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2007 and v. Agassi at U.S. Open in 2006) but rarely actually winning these thrillers. Hopefully he will bring his brilliant game and desire-to-win to Wimbledon and perhaps this time he'll win a repeat thriller against Djokovic in the quarterfinal, although a possible 4th round match against Nalbandian could have even more fireworks. PREDICTION: Quarter-finalist.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The [Christian Civic League of Maine] would have had to collect more than 55,000 signatures by next January to place its proposal on the statewide ballot in November 2009.
Thursday the organization conceded it has collected only about 5,000 signatures.
The proposal would have banned same-sex marriage and civil unions, wipe out existing laws giving limited rights to gay and lesbian couples, removed LGBT protections under the state's Human Rights Act, and would remove funding from the Attorney General's Office to investigate discrimination claims.
Professor Suri has published two books, The Death of Vishnu (his debut novel which was published in 2001 to wide acclaim, from being long-listed for the Booker Prize to winning numerous industry prizes) and The Age of Shiva which came out this year.
What's most interesting to me, though, was not only finding another mathematician who is a person of color who has numerous outside interests out of mathematics, but that we also do the same kind of mathematics (numerical analysis!)
Another interesting facet of Professor Suri (which didn't seem to come out in the SIAM News story) was that he is also gay (which did make it into the New York Times interview):
Q. HOW OLD WHERE YOU WHEN YOU ARRIVED IN THE UNITED STATES?
A. Twenty. I had obtained a fellowship to Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh. Immediately, I was surprised how easy it was to set down roots here. Unlike immigrants from other parts of the world, I had the language. I’d seen American movies and had read Mad magazine. There was no culture shock.
In America, I finally had a chance to investigate my own sexuality and take small hesitant steps in that direction. Today, I’m with my partner of 18 years.
One thing I was shocked by was how much Americans hated mathematics. You almost needed an antidefamation league for mathematicians. People actually took pleasure in explaining how bad they were at it. There’s a doll here that says, “I hate math.” You wouldn’t be able to sell such a doll in a sari.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Obama (D) 47%, McCain (R) 43%
Margin of error: ±2.6%
Obama (D) 48%, McCain (R) 42%
Margin of error: ±2.6%
Obama (D) 52%, McCain (R) 40%
Margin of error: ±2.5%
This is the first poll to show Obama leading in Florida. If the election were held today, Barack Obama would be elected President. Unfortunately, exactly four years ago, John Kerry was also polling ahead of George W. Bush (and we all know what happened in November 2004!)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
From the June 16 Bloomberg article quoted in the Kaiser report:
The rate of false positives from the OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 rose as high as 1.1 percent over the past eight months, or more than five times the level claimed in the kit's labeling, city health officials said. While the test meets U.S. standards and remains on the market, New York's sexually transmitted disease clinics stopped using it to screen saliva on May 27, said Susan Blank, director of the city's Bureau of STD control.
The $12 test is the only one cleared in the U.S. to test saliva for signs of HIV. It generated $32.7 million in 2007 sales, or about 40 percent of company revenue, Orasure said in February. The kit has performed better elsewhere, according to company spokesman Ron Ticho, who said Orasure is cooperating with U.S. regulators reviewing the New York results.
Nothing links the false positives to how the clinics have used the test, Blank said in a June 13 e-mail. ``So far, false positives have not been linked to handling, storage conditions, lot numbers, clinic sites and test operators,'' she wrote.
1. "Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century." Authorizes issuance of $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds to create a high-speed passenger train network beginning with a line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
2. "California Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act." Prohibits confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, or fully extend their limbs.
3. "Children's Hospital Bond Act." Authorizes issuance of $980 million in bonds to build, renovate and equip children's hospitals.
4. "Sarah's Law: the Child and Teen Safety and Stop Predators Act." Requires parental notification prior to minors' abortions.
5. "Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2008." Establishes a California secretary of rehabilitation and parole and other departments, offices and programs intended to provide rehabilitation and alternative sentencing for drug defendants.
6. "Safe Neighborhoods Act." Establishes an Office of Public Safety Education and Information and appropriates $12.5 million annually to pay for it and other programs; establishes a California Early Intervention, Rehabilitation and Accountability Commission to evaluate publicly funded anti-crime programs and sets standards for such programs; appropriates $92.5 million annually to help counties house juvenile offenders; appropriates $50 million for a Juvenile Probation Facility and Supervision Fund; broadens the admissibility of hearsay evidence; establishes a Crimestopper Reward Reimbursement Fund and appropriates $10 million annually to fund it; stiffens penalties for threatening judges and witnesses and for various gang-related crimes; broadens civil actions against gangs; and establishes other programs and laws intended to protect crime victims and more effectively deter crime and punish criminals.
7. "The Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008." Establishes mandatory renewable energy threshold for the L.A. Department of Water and Power and other government utilities.
8. "California Marriage Protection Act." Outlaws same-sex marriage by adding the following words to the state Constitution: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
9. "Marsy's Law: the Victims' Bill of Rights Act of 2008." Broadens role of victims and victims' families in parole hearings and restricts frequency of hearing.
10. "The California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act." Authorizes $5 billion in bonds ($9.8 billion with interest), much of which would provide rebates to buyers of hybrids and other alternative-fuel cars and fund research.
11. "Voters FIRST Act." Redistricting Constitutional Amendment and Statute. Would transfer the power to re-draw Assembly, state Senate, and Board of Equalization district lines, once every 10 years after census data come in, from the political parties and elected officials to a 14-member citizens' commission.
It still too early for the measures to have Propsition Numbers and this only the list as of June 18, 2008. It's still possible for the legislature to put measures on the ballot, probably as part of a budget deal. Bowen's office says that the last day for her to announce where a measures has qualified through signature gathering is June 26, 2008.
Mad Professah's general rule is to vote NO on statewide propositions because they are usually promulgated by conservative interests trying to enact legislation by avoiding the Democratic-controlled State Legislature. It looks like this there is no compelling initiative in this list of measures that would cause me to change that policy: VOTE NO!
They had previously failed (by a mere 116 signatures!) to repeal the domestic partnership law (Oregon Family Fairness Act) back in October 2007. They were able to delay it from going into effect on time and are still engaged in a federal lawsuit to declare the law unconstitutional.
The Oregon Equality Act bans discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in housing, employment, public accommodation, education and public services throughout the state.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
This list comes from the Facebook group, Against Gay Marriage? Then Don't Get One and SHUT THE FUCK UP (UCLA Chapter).
1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.
7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.
Plus, Gay marriage killed the dinosaurs! DUH!
Monday, June 16, 2008
I wonder if John McCain has someone reponsible for getting out the LGBT vote for him?
A brief summary of the research is:
Hmmmm, since I have no experience with the penises of straight men, I can't really comment on this topic!
These scientists are searching for innate traits that might not appear to be related to sexual orientation or even to standard clichés. So measuring a subject's shoe size is permissible; asking about ownership of Barbra Streisand albums would be cheating. Some inborn traits might be expected if homosexuality is -- as most scientists believe -- rooted in biology, and they might provide clues about the biological origins of sexual orientation.
Big brothers. Study after study -- including one of 87,000 British men published last year -- has found that gay men have more older brothers than straight men do. Only big brothers count. Lesbians don't show such patterns.
The numbers: Each older brother will increase a man's chances of being gay by 33%, says Ray Blanchard of the University of Toronto, an expert on the "big-brother effect." That's not as dramatic as it might sound. A man's chance of being gay is pretty low to begin with -- perhaps as low as 2% (lowered from 10% by researchers in the early 1990s). So having one older brother ups the chance to only about 2.6%.
Left hand vs. right hand. The hand you use to sign your name might have something to do with what gender you are drawn to.
The numbers: More lefties -- or at least more somewhat-ambidextrous folks -- crop up in the gay population than among straight people, several studies have shown. An analysis of more than 23,000 men and women from North America and Europe in 2000 found that being non-right-handed seems to increase a man's chances of being gay by about 34%, and a woman's by about 90%.
Hair whorl. How does your hair grow? This might reflect your sexual orientation.
The numbers: A 2004 study of nearly 500 men -- 272 on Delaware's Rehoboth Beach, popular with gay men, 200 on a beach without that reputation -- found that hair on the heads of men on the gay beach was 3.5 times more likely to grow in a counterclockwise direction. (Scalp hair typically resembles a clockwise-rotating typhoon.)
Penis size. If exposure to testosterone in the womb influences sexual orientation, scientists reckon that straight and gay people would differ in body parts strongly affected by testosterone, such as the penis.
The numbers: Anthony Bogaert of Brock University in Ontario and his colleagues re-analyzed data on 5,000 gay and straight men from sexologist Alfred Kinsey's famous files, collected from the 1930s to the 1960s. The results, published in 1999, showed that gay men had longer, thicker penises than did straight men: on average, about 6.5 inches long and 4.95 inches around when erect, versus 6.1 inches long and 4.8 inches around for straight men.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Roger Federer won his 59th consecutive grass court match en route to winning his 5th consecutive Halle title (55th ATP Tour title overall) at the Gerry Weber Open by defeating Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-4. It was Federer's 10th title on grass, he has never lost a grass court final.
She explicitly makes the comparison between the controversy and social upheaval over interracial marriage in the 1960s following the United States Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia decision legalizing interracial marriage and 2008's controversy over same-sex marriage in California following the state Supreme Court's legalizing same-sex marriages.
What gay men and lesbians are experiencing now as they seek to marry feels very familiar to me. The state has no right to tell anyone who they can or cannot love or marry. That is why this ballot initiative is misguided and cruel.
There are good people who continue to hold different beliefs about marriage for gay and lesbian couples. But amending our state Constitution is different. Writing a statement of inequality into the founding document of our state affects everyone's status in our community. It would say to some Californians that they are second-class citizens. We have gone down that road before, and we know where it leads.
That is why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Sen. Barack Obama have both clearly stated their opposition to the proposed California constitutional amendment, even though they do not personally support marriage for gay and lesbian couples. they are opposed because a constitution is different. If a European-American Republican governor and an African-American Democratic presidential candidate can agree on that principle, then I believe the people of California can rally around it as well.
Committed, loving gay and lesbian couples will begin legally marrying next week. Do not take their marriages away from them in November.
We are stronger as a community when we come together to strengthen all of our relationships. Divided, we are weaker.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
It's a good thing "Barack Obama has it easy because he's Black." (as Geraldine Ferraro and othre Clinton supporters claimed repeatedly during the Democratic presidential primary fight.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
They were also one of the first couples to be married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in March 2004 and were plaintiffs in one of the cases combined during the In Re Marriage Cases litigation which resulted in California's marriage laws being declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court.
Lyon, 83, said it was "heartwarming" that the city wants her and Martin, 87, to be the first couple to marry, but she said they are just a small part of what will happen as same-sex marriage begins in California.Congratulations, Phyllis and Del!
"Hundreds of thousands of couples will be getting married this time, and that's the important thing," Lyon said. "It's something that has been due for a long time, and thank god, it's here."
Lyon and Martin first met in Seattle in 1950 and moved in together in a Castro Street apartment on Valentine's Day 1953. Two years later, Lyon and Martin, and three other lesbian couples founded the Daughters of Bilitis, which historians call the first lesbian organization in the United States. Lyon and Martin have been leaders of the lesbian community ever since.
Starting at 5:01 pm on June 16, 2008 same-sex couples will be able to get married in California. Professor Art Leonard of New York Law School has noted that most of these countries have smaller populations than California (38 million). To wit:
The largest is South Africa, with a population of almost 48 million, then Spain with about 45 million, then California, with about 38 million, followed by Canada, 33 million, the Netherlands, 16.5 million, Belgium, 10 million, and little Massachusetts, rounding out the list with 6.5 million.
In a few weeks we can add Norway to the list, with about 4.5 million. Surely the other Scandinavian countries of Sweden (9 million) and Denmark (5.5 million). Finland (5 million) and Iceland (300k) are not Scandinavian, but they are culturally related. All of these countries (like most of Europe) currently have "registered partnerships" which are a countrywide version of domestic partnership or civil union.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Now that we’ve won marriage in California, should we be bringing cases in other states or suing the federal government? If not, what can we do to help secure the freedom to marry nationwide?
Bottom Line. If you’re ready and it’s right for you, get married in California. If you do, claim the name and act like what you are--married. But don’t go suing right away. Most lawsuits will likely set us all back. There are other ways to fight which are more likely to win.
Summary: The fastest way to win the freedom to marry throughout America is by getting marriage through state courts (to show that fairness requires it) and state legislatures (to show that people support it). We need to start with states where we have the best odds of winning. When we’ve won in a critical mass of states, we can turn to Congress and the federal courts. At that point, we’ll ask that the U.S. government treat all marriages equally. And we’ll ask that all states give equal treatment to all marriages and civil unions that are celebrated in other states.
There are many things people can and should do—urgently—to get marriage nationwide.
Working together we can defend the transformative wins in Massachusetts and California and build on them until we win equality, liberty and justice for all.
But one thing couples shouldn’t do is just sue the federal government or, if they are from other states, go sue their home state or their employer to recognize their marriage or open up the health plan. Pushing the federal government before we have a critical mass of states recognizing samesex relationships or suing in states where the courts aren’t ready is likely to get us bad rulings. Bad rulings will make it much more difficult for us to win marriage, and will certainly make it take much longer.
Fleming, a native of Louisiana who had worked in the oil business, entered the restaurant business in the early 1980s when the global oil glut devastated the petroleum industry in the Gulf of Mexico and sent Louisiana into a deep recession. He managed to gather together enough funds to open a franchise of New Orleans-based Ruth's Chris Steak House in Beverly Hills, California. Fleming had immediate success in a tough business. Eventually, he would acquire the franchise rights for Ruth's Chris Steak Houses in California, Arizona, and Hawaii, and he would also purchase other restaurant franchises, including four Z'Tejas Grills and one Nola's Mexican Restaurant. But it was not until he opened P.F. Chang's China Bistro in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1993 that he began his own, rather unique chain. As president of Fleming Chinese Restaurants Inc., he started up and managed the first four restaurants in the fledgling enterprise. Fleming claimed that his principal motivation was his fondness for Chinese food, which he wanted to make available to all comers at reasonable prices in a less intimidating format than that of most Chinese restaurants.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
A growing body of evidence shows that same-sex couples have a great deal to teach everyone else about marriage and relationships. Most studies show surprisingly few differences between committed gay couples and committed straight couples, but the differences that do emerge have shed light on the kinds of conflicts that can endanger heterosexual relationships.
One well-known study used mathematical modeling to decipher the interactions between committed gay couples. The results, published in two 2003 articles in The Journal of Homosexuality, showed that when same-sex couples argued, they tended to fight more fairly than heterosexual couples, making fewer verbal attacks and more of an effort to defuse the confrontation.
Controlling and hostile emotional tactics, like belligerence and domineering, were less common among gay couples.
Same-sex couples were also less likely to develop an elevated heartbeat and adrenaline surges during arguments. And straight couples were more likely to stay physically agitated after a conflict.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Sunday, June 08, 2008
World #2 Rafael Nadal defeated World #1 Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 6-0. Nadal had eleven (or seven) unforced errors to Federer's 30-something. It wasn't a match it was a mis-match!
Saturday, June 07, 2008
|Roger Federer SUI (1)||vs. Rafael Nadal ESP (2).|
Historic. That's the first word that comes to mind as I think about this match-up between the presumptive Best Clay Court Player Ever and the presumptive Greatest Of All Time for the third consecutive year in the Roland Garros final.
This time around Federer is playing in his fifteenth Grand Slam final (12-2) after having been in sixteen consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. Four of those major finals have been against Nadal in 2006 and 2007 and they have split them equally, with Nadal winning both of the matches played on clay and Federer winning both matches played on grass.
On Sunday they will play a fifth major final, with the stakes, as usual, high for both combatants. If Federer wins, he will finally complete his career Grand Slam and move 1 major title closer to catching Pete Sampras' all-time record total of 14. If Nadal wins, he will have won 4 consecutive French Open titles, matching Bjorn Borg's wins from 1978-1981. Either way, history will be made on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Nadal in 5 sets.
|Dinara Safina RUS (13)||vs. Ana Ivanovic SRB (2).|
The brand new World #1 from Serbia is in her second consecutive final of the year as well as her second consecutive Roland Garros final. She's favored to defeat "Marat's little sister" who has twice stared down match point (against Maria Sharapova in the 4th round and Elena Dementieva in the quarters) in this tournament but is miraculously through to her first major final. Could this be the year of the Russian exactly four years after the first all-Russian final of Myskina-Dementieva? Doubtful.
Ivanovic dug deep in her semi-final against compatriot Jelena Jankovic when she lost the second set despite being up 3-1. In the decisive third set she proceeded to fall behind 3-1, fought back to even the score at 4-4 through some extremely hard hitting and athletic defense and eventually denied the older Jankovic her first "bite at the apple" in a major final.
In her semifinal, Safina played her third consecutive countrywoman, Svetlana Kuznetsova, who surprisingly was even more nervous than Safina was and unfortunately was unable to play her best tennis, thus handing Safina her first major final. If Safina wins, Dinara and Marat would become the first brother-sister sibling pairs to win major titles. If Ivanovic wins, she will be the first woman from her country to win a major tennis title, and amazingly someone from Serbia will have won the first two titles of 2008.
PREDICTION: Ivanovic in 3 sets.