Thursday, July 31, 2008
Billed as a "Rod 2.0 Exclusive," the first paragraph looks like this:
Only one day before it was scheduled to begin, New York City's popular black gay pride function, Pride in the City, has canceled events amidst a dramatic upheaval at its sponsoring agency, the HIV/AIDS group People of Color in Crisis (POCC). Rod 2.0 has exclusive details on the last-minute event cancellation and firing of former executive director Michael Roberson—including a lawsuit just filed against POCC, alleged financial improprieties, state and federal investigation, and, a possible possible criminal investigation.
Chile, run (do not walk!) to Rod's blog and read all the salacious details at his site.
Speaking as one of the heterosexually-married people OSC clearly hopes will respond to this clarion call of his, I have to say to him: Dude, no. Just, no. On the list of government actions that have genuinely threatened the well-being of the United States over the years, same-sex marriage is probably about number 36,000, wedged between cashmere subsidies and funding for whatever set of still pictures Ken Burns is slow-panning across on PBS this next year. On the other hand, initiatives intended to cancel out existing marriages and deprive citizens of rights they already have under law jump up to near the top of the list of things I personally worry about tearing at the national fabric. Call it a difference in perspective.
However, the AfterElton staff is not as forgiving:
I’ve read almost all of Card’s books, some of which are excellent and a few of which even include somewhat sympathetic portrayals of gay people. But I’ll never give another cent to this paranoid, delusional man.And Paul Constant over at Slog in a piece entitled "Let’s Call a Jackass a Jackass" is trying to publicize "Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe." Mad Professah agrees.
Card has been saying outrageous, openly bigoted things about gays for years. But he has received little mainstream criticism, and major media players such as Marvel Comics, Warner Brothers, and Card's publisher Tom Doherty Associates continue to work with him.
Earlier this year, Card was given the prestigious Margaret A. Edwards Award by the Young Adults Library Services Association for his contributions to young adult literature. As my author friend David Levithan argued at the time, would they have given the award to an author who is as openly racist or sexist as Card is homophobic? Would an author who advocates a return to South Africa's apartheid be welcome at an awards ceremony anywhere other than a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan?
Orson Scott Card is a hateful, dangerous man. It’s high time more people treat him as such.
"Apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans.Thoughts? I'm curious to see what Barack Obama's reaction is.
Whereas millions of Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and the 13 American colonies from 1619 through 1865;
Whereas slavery in America resembled no other form of involuntary servitude known in history, as Africans were captured and sold at auction like inanimate objects or animals;
Whereas Africans forced into slavery were brutalized, humiliated, dehumanized, and subjected to the indignity of being stripped of their names and heritage;
Whereas enslaved families were torn apart after having been sold separately from one another;
Whereas the system of slavery and the visceral racism against persons of African descent upon which it depended became entrenched in the Nation's social fabric;
Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865 after the end of the Civil War, which was fought over the slavery issue;
Whereas after emancipation from 246 years of slavery, African-Americans soon saw the fleeting political, social, and economic gains they made during Reconstruction eviscerated by virulent racism, lynchings, disenfranchisement, Black Codes, and racial segregation laws that imposed a rigid system of officially sanctioned racial segregation in virtually all areas of life;
» Continue reading House to take up apology for slavery and racial segregation
Whereas the system of de jure racial segregation known as `Jim Crow,' which arose in certain parts of the Nation following the Civil War to create separate and unequal societies for whites and African-Americans, was a direct result of the racism against persons of African descent engendered by slavery;
Whereas the system of Jim Crow laws officially existed into the 1960's--a century after the official end of slavery in America--until Congress took action to end it, but the vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day;
Whereas African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow--long after both systems were formally abolished--through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity;
Whereas the story of the enslavement and de jure segregation of African-Americans and the dehumanizing atrocities committed against them should not be purged from or minimized in the telling of American history;
Whereas on July 8, 2003, during a trip to Goree Island, Senegal, a former slave port, President George W. Bush acknowledged slavery's continuing legacy in American life and the need to confront that legacy when he stated that slavery `was . . . one of the greatest crimes of history . . . The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destiny is set: liberty and justice for all.';
Whereas President Bill Clinton also acknowledged the deep-seated problems caused by the continuing legacy of racism against African-Americans that began with slavery when he initiated a national dialogue about race;
Whereas a genuine apology is an important and necessary first step in the process of racial reconciliation;
Whereas an apology for centuries of brutal dehumanization and injustices cannot erase the past, but confession of the wrongs committed can speed racial healing and reconciliation and help Americans confront the ghosts of their past;
Whereas the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia has recently taken the lead in adopting a resolution officially expressing appropriate remorse for slavery and other State legislatures are considering similar resolutions; and
Whereas it is important for this country, which legally recognized slavery through its Constitution and its laws, to make a formal apology for slavery and for its successor, Jim Crow, so that it can move forward and seek reconciliation, justice, and harmony for all of its citizens: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow;
(2) apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow; and
(3) expresses its commitment to rectify the lingering consequences of the misdeeds committed against African-Americans under slavery and Jim Crow and to stop the occurrence of human rights violations in the future."
In 2000, very few companies took stands (on either side) on Proposition 22, which was an anti-gay marriage ballot measure which passed. This time is different.
“We are proud to join NO on 8 and Equality California to protect the freedom to marry for all Californians,” said PG&E Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Nancy McFadden. “For years, PG&E has advocated for equality and fairness in the workplace, and across California. In that same spirit, PG&E is honored to be a founding member of the Equality Business Advisory Council and urge our business colleagues to join us as we work to guarantee the same rights and freedoms for every Californian.”
A recent Field Poll of likely voters showed that a majority of Californians oppose Proposition 8 and would vote against it in November.
Coming on the heels of a 1 million dollar donation by Utah philanthropist Bruce Bastian things are looking up for fairness and equality prevailing at the ballot box on November 4th.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Bay Area Reporter has some useful details:
Bastian, a member of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, announced his gift at the group's annual gala fundraiser in San Francisco Saturday, July 26. It is the largest personal contribution toward the campaign against Prop 8 to date, according to HRC officials.
Although Bastian is single, does not live in the state, and does not have any close gay friends who are Californians planning to marry, he said he sees the marriage fight in the state as a "battle line." And with the Mormon Church already raising funds to pass Prop 8, Bastian said it was imperative that he become involved in the fight.
"As a Mormon I know it costs a lot of money to preach. The Mormons will raise a lot of money in support of Prop 8 in November," said Bastian, who divorced his wife in 1994 and is the father of four sons. "It upsets me deeply. I want to tell the Mormon Church to stay out of my business."
A graduate of Brigham Young University, Bastian excelled at computer programming and co-founded the WordPerfect Software Company with Alan Ashton in 1978. Forbes magazine estimated his wealth to be $1.1 billion at one time, and Bastian has funneled his money to gay causes and numerous arts groups in Utah.
The Massachusetts State House has just passed a bill by a vote of 118-35 that would repeal a 1913 law that restricted issuing Massachusetts marriage licences to couples whose marriage would be recognized in the state in which they resided. This was initially passed to reduce the number of interracial marriages and was enforced by former Massachusetts Governor (and possible Republican Vice Presidential candidate) Mitt Romney when the state opened up its marriages to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004.
Current Governor Deval Patrick (who has an openly lesbian teenaged daughter and has worked tirelessly to protect marriage equality in the state) has announced that he will happily sign the repeal measure into law.
Rea Carey, newly named Executive Director of The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a statement applauding the move:
“Massachusetts lawmakers wisely dismantled the barrier to same-sex couples from other states who wish to marry in the Commonwealth. We look forward to the signature of Governor Patrick on this legislation. The 1913 law, a shameful vestige from another wrong-headed time of denying marriage to interracial couples, became Gov. Mitt Romney’s archaic tool in his unsuccessful bid to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Not only does today’s House vote repudiate Romney’s efforts to block our marriages in Massachusetts, it also invites couples from around the United States to experience the joy and happiness of celebrating their lives by becoming married in the Bay State.
“We applaud MassEquality, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and the many others who worked so long and hard to achieve and protect marriage equality in Massachusetts.”
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
McCain and former MA Gov Mitt Romney
Choosing the first term Virginia governor for the number two slot appears to be the conventional wisdom, albeit a bland and uninspiring choice. The Dixiecrat endorsed Obama early in the primary and is anti-choice, pro-death penalty and supported the Iraq War—the perfect resume for the "post-partisan" Republican lite politics of the new "Democratic" Party.The icing on the cake is Kaine's woeful record on gay rights—against gay adoption, partner benefits, discrimination legislation, and ,of course, against same-sex marriage and supported the amendment that now bans gay marriage in the Commonwealth. The Virginia governor also has the distinction of running one of the more creative gay-baiting campaigns in recent history, branding his anti-gay Republican opponent "having a gay sounding voice." Kaine is hardly presidential timber—more like pressed plywood.
Suffice it to say I am as decidedly unthrilled as I am (unfortunately) totally unsurprised that the Obama campaign is even considering putting a gay-baiting DINO war hawk whose personal "views on abortion are roughly in line with those of George W. Bush" on the ticket.
Kaine is a very bad choice for VP. He's done nothing as Governor except turn a functional state government into a partisan cesspool of giveaways to the rich and anger everyone in the process. And on national positions, the only thing he brings to the table is that he can play the Lieberman as VP role again. And sequels usually suck, especially if the original was bad.
You can read more from those who know him best and even helped get him elected at RK, the blog that no longer bears his name out of disgust for what he has done as Governor.
If this is a trial balloon then it is fair to descibe the progressive blogosphere unimpressed. Next!
Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for the Protect Marriage coalition, called the new language "inherently argumentative" and said it could "prejudice voters against the initiative."
Proponents of the measure said they want voters to see ballot language similar to what was on the petitions that began circulating last fall.
"This is a complete about-face from the ballot title that was assigned" when the measure was being circulated for signatures, Kerns said.
On the other side, Steve Smith, campaign manager for No on Proposition 8, applauded the language change.
"What Proposition 8 would do is eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, which is exactly what the attorney general put in the title of the measure," he said. "It will be very difficult for them to win the case."
Political analysts on both sides suggest that the language change will make passage of the initiative more difficult, noting that voters might be more reluctant to pass a measure that makes clear it is taking away existing rights.
Well I guess they are screwed then, because right now same-sex couples have the right to marry in California. If Proposition 8 passes on November 4, same-sex couples will not have that right. So, clearly Proposition 8 is "eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry"!
In reporter Jessica Garrison's Los Angeles Times story there is some speculation that 2010 gubernatorial politics came into play in the revision of the ballot title and summary, since Attorney General Jerry Brown gets to revise the ballot titles and summaries, and he has delivered a much-appreciated boost to the LGBT community by revising Proposition 8's title and summary to more closely reflect reality. His main political rivals for the Governor's office in 2010 include gay-rights champions Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa who have both been associated more closely with gay marriage. Jerry Brown's office represented the State of California in defending its discriminatory marriage laws that were struck down by the California Supreme Court in May so he had to take some action to show his progressive bona fides on this issue. In fact, it's actually pretty difficult to find out exactly what Jerry Brown's own position on gay marriage is, since as Governor he signed the original law defining marriage between a man and a woman (that was also struck down by the court) in the 1970s. Presumably, sometime before June 2, 2010 he will make his position on gay marriage known to the voters of California!
"As Mayor of the largest city in California, I am committed to creating a world in which no member or group in society is denied full and equal rights. It is my hope that this time next year will find us all united by victory in the fight against Proposition 8 and ever more determined to establish equal rights, with no exceptions, for every one of us."The Mayor had intended to attend the gala when the controversy was just about ENDA but when the Sam Francisco Labor Coucil joined the boycott of the HRC event his decision was made for him. Villaraigosa has the 2009 re-election campaign approaching as well as the 2010 gubernatorial primary a year later. Clearly he made a decision to shore up both his LGBT support and labor support. His other main pro-gay rival for the Governor's office, Gavin Newsom, was unavailable because he was getting married himself last weekend. (Hat tip to Joe.My.God)
Latter Day Saints President Thomas S. Monson agreed to a meeting in April with leaders of Affirmation, an organization for LGBT members of the LDS church, Fred Riley, commissioner of family services for the LDS, and Harold C. Brown, the agency’s past commissioner.Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm.
Affirmation had sought such a meeting for several years. It was to have taken place Aug. 11.
But in a letter to Affirmation, Riley suddenly called off the discussion, noting he was preparing to leave his position and that the meeting would best be handled by his successor, who has not yet been named.
“We feel badly about this, but believe that for this to be the best experience for all parties and to ensure appropriate consistency and continuity of the process, it would be best to postpone the meeting until the new commissioner is named,” Riley said in the letter.
Monday, July 28, 2008
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.There will almost definitely be litigation over these changes, and although two weeks ago the good guys lost the lawsuit to boot Proposition 8 from the ballot completely, since it now eliminates marriage rights for (and possibly annuls current marriages of) same-sex couples instead of just limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples, the good guys will probably win the legal battle over this title and summary.
INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments.
Although the changes to the proposed amendment are subject to legal challenge, this summary accurately describes what the proposition will do. Prop. 8 would eliminate a constitutional right guaranteed to same-gender couples and would decrease revenues coming in to the state from marriages between same-gender couples.
And do you really think that undecided voters will walk into the ballot booth 99 days from now and vote to eliminate rights AND lose revenue to the state of California estimated in the tens of millions of dollars?
Heck, no (on Proposition 8)!
Senior Deputy District Attorney Maeve Fox, who is prosecuting the case, argued that McInerney’s age should not play a factor in him being charged as an adult in the murder of Lawrence King. In a statement to The Advocate, Fox said that McInerney’s ability to “premeditate and deliberate this kind of crime and pull it off in front of their entire class I think is cause for serious alarm… he should spend a good long time behind bars.”
“When you were 14, when you were 10, when you were 8, did you know it was wrong to kill someone?” Fox asked. “The answer inevitably is yes.” Because 14 and 15-year-olds cannot receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole in California, The Advocate notes, McInerney could still be released on parole in the future even if sentence to life in prison.
Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated Nicolas Kiefer 6-3 6-2 to win the ATP Masters Series title at the Rogers Cup in Toronto yesterday. It was his 29th consecutive match win and his 5th consecutive title (Hamburg Masters, Roland Garros, Queen's, Wimbledon and now the Toronto Masters). He has now won 30 ATP titles (12 ATP Masters Series) in his career at the age of 22. He won his first match on the ATP tour at the age of 15(!) and has been the World #2 for a record 156 consecutive weeks. He is now a mere 300 points behind current World #1 Roger Federer of Switzerland, who has held that position since February 2, 2004. Depending on the results at this week's ATP Masters Series event Cincinnati Nadal could become World #1 by next week.
More at Craig Hickman's blog.
The movie is directed by one of my favorite directors, Christopher Nolan, who made Memento and The Prestige (see MadProfessah's review), two of my favorite films of all time. In fact, in my opinion, Christopher Nolan (who co-writes and also produces his films) has yet to make a bad movie in the six feature films in his oeuvre so far: The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Insomnia and Memento.
The Dark Knight is a fitting member of this club. Although it is not as intellectually satisfying as Memento or The Prestige it is another example of damned good film-making similar to Batman Begins but it is better than that movie.
The cast (like in the original) is quite impressive and uniformly excellent: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal with even minor roles filled with excellent actors like Nestor Carbonell (The Mayor of Gotham City) and Anthony Michael Hall (an important cop) and Eric Roberts (an important gangster).
A little over half-way through the film I whispered to The Other Half "How much did this film cost?!" It looks incredible and you really can't believe all the things they were able to do on-screen, even with the magic of computerized visual effects.
The film does have a significant flaw: the film is simply too long. It is his longest film to date, and I think it's because he wanted to give the fans a summer entertainment where they feel they got their money's worth. Well, he had me after the first hour. The running time could really be anywhere between 15-30 minutes shorter. There's simply too much plot for a popcorn movie (how often does say that about a summer blockbuster?) which leads to a sense of enervated appreciation by the end.
The strengths of the film are many and much celebrated at this point, with the most significant being the performance of Heath Ledger as The Joker. He is absolutely riveting to watch, at times terrifying, funny and violent. It is an Oscar-calibre performance for which he will almost certainly win year-end acting awards posthumously (personally I would not vote for him for Best Supporting Academy Award if it were up to me because I think living actors should benefit from the exposure of winning the film industry's highest honor but there's no question it is one of the strongest supprting performances by a male actor in any film this year so far).
Unsurprisingly, Oscar-winners Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are also incredibly strong in their supporting roles, as is Aaron Eckhart as the politically ambitious District Attorney Harvey Dent. Gary Oldman is almost unrecognizable in his Sir Albert Finney-like disappearance into his character. The only slight weakness in the top tier talent is Maggie Gyllenhaal's although I do think she was an improvement on Katie Holmes who originated the role of Bruce Wayne's love interest Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins.
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne (he doesn't really get to do any acting as Batman) is solid and I found it signficant that there are almost no scenes of Bale's incredible body shirtless--in fact there is almost no sexuality whatever in the film.
The film, instead seems to be more about the puzzle of vigilante-ism and the nature of the body politic of a city, as well as the nature of madness and criminality and how far "the good guys" will go to stop the "bad guys" from getting their way, even if that means the line between good and bad get blurred. But, ultimately, it is an incredibly entertaining way to spend almost 3 hours in the dark.
OVERALL GRADE: A-.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
This is the first live-action 3-D movie that I have seen and generally I would say that the 3-D effects were not really necessary for most of the film but they were extremely effective when incorporated with more standard visual effects like floating individual water droplets, flying luminescent birds and snapping fish.
Interestingly, the credits were surprisingly exciting because they moved towards the viewer rather rapidly. In fact, any sudden moves of objects towards the viewer are pretty fun. The 3-D effects applied to water in multiple different forms (spraying droplets, undulating waves and falling water) were definite standouts.
It's definitely a kid's movie but it is relatively engrossing for the 90 minute running time although it is somewhat marred by completely implausible physics which are offensive to any scientifically trained individual.(Stable equilibria for magnetic objects in magnetic fields do not exist!) Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson and Anita Briem are all agreeable and have reasonable chemistry.
OVERALL GRADE: B-.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Obama's approval rating with registered Latino voters, the nationwide Pew Hispanic Center poll found, is at 66 percent versus 23 percent favoring McCain.
Obama's favorability among Latinos is slightly up from a Gallup Poll summary of surveys taken in May, which showed Obama with 62 percent of Latino voters nationwide, compared with 29 percent for McCain.
"He now appears to be even more popular than Hillary Clinton among Latinos," Lopez said.
Pew Hispanic Center's deputy director, Susan Minushkin, added that Obama is "enjoying broad-based support among Hispanics who don't see great differences by age, by gender, by education, by income."
Friday, July 25, 2008
The sequel to the 2004 Hellboy has been received relatively warmly by critics and the public in general (87% critics and 80% users at rottentomatoes.com).
As usual, the sequels to sucessful films that become summer blockbusters become bigger, louder and longer. Actually, Hellboy 2 is a few minutes shorter than the original's two-hour running time but seems much longer.
del Toro is clearly an extremely talented director and the images he includes in the film are truly breath-taking, even more imaginative than the amazing creations that appeared in his Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth (MadProfessah's review). This is one of the reason's he has been tapped to take on what is probably the #1 directing job in the world today, the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
However, Hellboy 2 is a good example of the importance of a good script and being faithful to the internal consistencies of a fantastical world. In Hellboy 2, the entire plot revolves around the prevention of the activation of an indestructible, unstoppable Golden Army. When the question of whether the Golden Army will be stopped is resolved, one of the characters grabs the device which controls the activation of the Golden Army and completely destroys it in a few seconds. WTF? If the character ccould have demolished the key device at any point in time, what was the point of the last 90 minutes of the film? This is a fatal flaw and basically ruined the film for me. And my attention was already starting to flag because right before this point the action had become extremely frenetic and appeared to be unending. However, at no point does the film look bad, and overall, the action scenes were well-paced throughout the running time of the film.
OVERALL GRADE: B.
The always excellent Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report summarizes the news thusly:
The legislation allocates a total of $50 billion -- $48 billion of which would go to PEPFAR and $2 billion of which would go to American Indian issues. The bill also includes an amendment intended to increase oversight of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and encourage cost-sharing and transition strategies as part of agreements with countries that receive PEPFAR aid. The measure also includes a provision that would ease U.S. HIV/AIDS travel restrictions.Woo hoo! Still-President Bush has announced that he intends to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.
One primary difference between the original House version of the legislation and the version passed on Thursday is that the original version would have allowed groups to use PEPFAR funding for HIV testing and education in family planning clinics but not for contraception or abortion services. The bill passed on Thursday does not mention family planning programs.
The measure approved on Thursday also includes a provision that more than half of the program's aid go toward HIV/AIDS treatment and care. In addition, it would overturn an existing law that requires one-third of prevention funds be spent on abstinence and fidelity programs, instead requiring a report to Congress if countries do not spend half of prevention money on such programs. The bill also would direct 10% of funding to programs for orphans and vulnerable children, as well as allocate $2 billion for the Global Fund in fiscal year 2009. The legislation contains an existing requirement that organizations receiving PEPFAR aid have a policy that opposes commercial sex work. The bill would create links between HIV/AIDS and nutrition programs and set a target of recruiting 140,000 health care workers. In addition, the measure would allocate $5 billion for malaria programs and $4 billion for tuberculosis initiatives (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/24).
Thursday, July 24, 2008
You can also help promote fairness and equality for gay and lesbian couples by donating to VOW TO VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8 / Equality for All campaign.
"The Constitution guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," Bratton said this week. "I see no reason why gays can't pursue happiness through marriage."
After learning of the union [between celebrity publicist Howard Bragman and his longtime partner Chuck O'Donnell] a few days ago, Bratton and Kleiman asked the couple what they would like as a wedding present. Bragman was direct: No gifts -- instead, make a donation to Equality California to help stop Prop. 8. And please make it public.
Other friends of Bragman and O'Donnell -- who was USC's Tommy Trojan for 10 years -- have done the same. They include tennis star Martina Navratilova and former "Grey's Anatomy" actor Isaiah Washington. (He's been trying to make amends with the gay community since he was caught uttering an antigay slur backstage at the Golden Globes in January 2007; Bragman is his PR rep.)
Currently the bad guys have raised $2.367 million while the good guys have raised $2.280 million as of July 16th.
"The hardcourt season just started so it is not the end of the world but I wish I could have started better," Federer said. "I like this surface, I like this tournament, I have done well in the past here so it definitely hurts.
"I have to regroup and look forward. The bigger picture is the Olympic Games and the US Open and those are the places I really want to win so I have to make sure I am ready for that."
The 22nd-ranked Simon represented a tricky opponent for the rusty Federer, who had only resumed practice four days before arriving in Toronto and received a first-round bye.
"I was playing like I was in a dream," Simon said. "I just saw the ball and hit it as hard as possible."
After starting 2008 with a lead of 1,445 ranking points over the Spaniard [Rafael Nadal], an off-the-boil season which now includes 10 defeats in 53 matches has Federer facing the possibility of losing the top spot he has held for 234 weeks since 2004.
While Nadal cannot overtake him even with a second title in Canada, site of his first career hardcourt crown, the pressure is now intense on 12-time Grand Slam champion Federer.
Only a few hundred points will separate the leading pair if Nadal does well this week.
Some Rafa fans (and Raja haters) are predicting Federer will want to retire at the top of the rankings (like former World #1 Justine Henin did three months ago) which would probably mean he would have to do so sometime this year. They don't really understand Roger Federer. He has stated that he wants to play at Wimbledon during the Olympics in 2012 and I believe him. He is a mere 2 titles away from being declared the Greatest Of All Time--you don't get to that level without a little (or even a lot of) adversity. Pete Sampras on his way to 14 was demolished in two consecutive U.S. Open finals by Marat Safin (2000) and Lleyton Hewitt (2001) before winning his 14th major over Agassi in New York in 2002 (and immediately retired at the age of 31). Federer is currently 26 (turning 27) on August 8, 2008.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
First of all, how cool of it is to get a letter from a writer whose work you admire and they tell you that they like the review you wrote of their work?
Secondly, how exciting is that finally after two long years, a new episode in the Benjamin Justice series will be out soon?
If you haven't heard of Benjamin Justice, he is the fictional openly gay, ex-reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Los Angeles Times that had to be returned after a huge scandal.
He always seems to find himself in complicated murder mysteries set in Southern California and Los Angeles (the first several books are actually set in the heart of the gay ghetto itself: West Hollywood).
The first seven books in the series are: Simple Justice (1996), Revision of Justice (1997), Justice at Risk (1999), The Limits of Justice (2000), Blind Eye (2003), Moth and Flame (2004) and Rhapsody in Blood (2006).
I am thinking of re-reading (and reviewing) the first 6 books or so for this blog before the 8th one comes out in December. I would strongly recommend reading them in order, although each one is self-contained, the impact of the events on the character is deepened if you have experienced the events of the previous books.
"I think it’s serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Good Morning America."
Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Unfortunately, Forever Peace is not as well-written as The Forever War, although it is as inventive. That's part of the problem. There are two great ideas in The Forever War: the notion that some percentage of humans have the ability to be "jacked" so that all sensory input can be shared between two or more people AND the discovery that a long-running astrophysical experiment to recreate the Big Bang will actually destroy a significant portion of our Galaxy and there is a secret society that has infiltrated the Government that believes that it is God's will that the Universe be destroyed.
Either one of these ideas would have been enough to make a pretty decent sciemce fiction novel. However, in Forever Peace I think that Haldeman over-reaches and tries to include two ideas that really don't have much to do with each other. In general, I am a fan of sci-fi books that are brimming with ideas but there's just something ill-posed about the way the ideas in Forever Peace seem to unspool. I was quite surprised, because most reviews seem to think that it is at least as a good as The Forever War but I had difficulty finishing it (and was not really invested in the main character's well-being) which was not the case with The Forever War, which is really a collection of short stories and novellas that feature the same character.
Forever Peace and The Forever War are not really sequels, their similarities are in their author and they both are told from the first-person perspective of a soldier in aseemingly unterminable war. Forever Peace does not distinguish itself in a head-to-head cmparison between the two, but is still worth a try (after reading The Forever War).
OVERALL GRADE: B+.
I must agree with both bloggers that it is surprising that 14% would be voting for John McCain when:
This is a man who doesn't even know what the acronym LGBT stands for.
He also doesn't really believe in gay adoption, supports a ban on gays in the military, is worried if his clothing looks too gay, isn't sure if condoms stop the spread of HIV, thinks same-sex marriage ceremonies are okay as long as they're just pretend, and has promised right-wing religious groups that he'll start speaking out more vocally against LGBT causes.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Scheduled to testify against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are U.S. Army Major General Vance Coleman (Ret.), U.S. Navy Captain Joan E. Darrah (Ret.), and former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric F. Alva.Many bloggers have been remarking on the recently released ABC/Washington Post poll showing nearly overwhelming support by the American public for allowing openly LGBT soldiers to serve their country in the military. Towleroad has the number at 75% of all Americans approving of openly gay servicemembers.
General Coleman, who served as a Division Commander, sits on the SLDN Military Advisory Council. His decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Captain Darrah’s assignments included serving as Deputy Director of the Human Resources Directorate at the Office of Naval Intelligence. A graduate of the Naval War College, she also belongs to the SLDN Military Advisory Council.
Sergeant Alva was the first American wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in the Marine Corps for 13 years.
Since its implementation in 1993, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has resulted in the dismissal of more than 12,500 men and women from the armed forces. Nearly 800 of those dismissed under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had skills deemed 'mission-critical' by the Department of Defense. More than 300 of those discharged were language specialists, including 58 Arabic linguists. The cost to U.S. taxpayers for maintaining the ban is estimated at more than $363 million.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Venus and Lindsay withdrew on Friday with knee injuries. Serena retired from her semifinal match against Aleksandra Wozniak on Saturday at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford with an aggravation of her left knee injury. She was not moving at all and was down 2-6, 1-3, 40-15 when she stopped playing.
All three Americans are scheduled to represent their country at the Olympics which start on Friday August 8.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The new poll found a predictable partisan division: Republicans support the constitutional ban 68 percent to 27 percent while Democrats oppose it 63 percent to 30 percent. Nonpartisan and minor-party members are even more strongly against it, 66 percent to 27 percent.
DiCamillo said he was not surprised that unaffiliated voters opposed Proposition 8 more than Democrats because those voters tend to be younger than Democrats or Republicans.
However, the recent poll found the opposition to the ban strongest among voters between 50 and 64 years old, with 57 percent opposed and 38 percent in support.
Regionally, the poll showed the strongest opposition to Proposition 8 came from voters in the San Francisco Bay Area, who were opposed 67 percent to 26 percent. The strongest support came from the Central Valley, where the amendment was backed 54 percent to 39 percent.
In Los Angeles County, the poll showed that likely voters oppose the measure, 51 percent to 41 percent, while Southern California counties outside Los Angeles – including San Diego – are more evenly split, with 50 percent against and 45 percent in favor.
The Field Poll, conducted July 8 through Monday, is based on surveys with 672 likely voters and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
I really don't believe the number that the strongest opposition comes from the age group 50-64, that just seems wrong. Brian Leubitz of Calitics looks at the cross-tabs and says that the Field Poll includes 190 people in this category. Also, the 55 No--41 Yes in the 18-30 category is pretty troubling to me.
However, I believe in the Field Poll's accuracy and hope that the last poll before November 4th also shows that Proposition 8 is still losing.
Friday, July 18, 2008
"Boston Legal," ABC
"Mad Men," AMC
MadProfessah's pick: Lost
"Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO
"The Office," NBC
"30 Rock," NBC
"Two and a Half Men," CBS
MadProfessah's pick: 30 Rock
ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES:
Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
James Spader, "Boston Legal"
MadProfessah's pick: Since no one from Lost (Terry O'Quinn or Michael Fox or Naveen Andrews) was nominated I really don't care. I've only seen like two episodes of Dexter and was not very impressed.
ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES:
Glenn Close, "Damages"
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace"
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
MadProfessah's pick: Glenn Close. This is an insane category. As opportunities for Oscar-calibre actresses of a certain age diminish in the movies they are increasing on television. Glenn Close was robbed of an Oscar (a couple of times) in the early 90s, Sally Field has won two (!) and Holly Hunter has won one Best Actress Oscar. I have just started watching The Closer and I am impressed with Kyra Sedgwick's work.
ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES:
Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?"
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine"
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds"
MadProfessah's pick: Tina Fey (or Mary-Louise Parker).
ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES:
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies"
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"
MadProfessah's pick: Tony Shalhoub has won this category 3 times already! But I'd love to see Steve Carell win this year.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDY SERIES:
Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"
Kevin Dillon, "Entourage"
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"
Jeremy Piven, "Entourage"
Rainn Wilson, "The Office"
MadProfessah's pick: Hopefully if Steve Carell wins then his sidekick-in-comedy played with absolute verisimiltiude by Rainn Wilson will also win.
SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMA SERIES:
Ted Danson, "Damages"
Michael Emerson, "Lost"
Zeljko Ivanek, "Damages"
William Shatner, "Boston Legal"
John Slattery, "Mad Men"
MadProfessah's pick: Damages was some kind of awesome, but Ted Danson was not a strong pointof the series--Zeljko Ivanek was. However, Lost would just be a weird show with an interestingly multiracial cast and an intriguing concept without the amazing work of Michael Emerson. It's tragic that this is the only acting nomination the series received this year.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMA SERIES:
Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal"
Rachel Griffiths, "Brothers and Sisters"
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy"
Dianne Wiest, "In Treatment"
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"
MadProfessah's pick: After Katherine Heigl took herself out of the running (which I think people who have won before should always do) that improved the chances for Chandra Wilson. Sandra Oh has won a Golden Globe, Rachel Griffiths did amazing work on Six Feet Under and Dianne Wiest has not one but two Supporting Actress Oscars on her mantle already.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDY SERIES:
Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies"
Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live"
Jean Smart, "Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men"
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty"
MadProfessah's pick: I have no dog in this hunt. I think it would be great if Amy Poehler was recognized for her brilliant work on SNL.
1. People with HIV are now eligible to visit and immigrate to the United States.Congratulations are in order to Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality, the national LGBT organization devoted to advocating on behalf og HIV+ and LGBT imigrants.
2. Third world countries will get desperately needed funds to fight AIDS.
3. Opposition to Elizabeth Dole's re-election has been supercharged.
4. Andrew Sullivan gets to stay in the United States.
From the Los Angeles Times article:
The legislation now goes to a House-Senate conference committee, where lawmakers can work out differences before sending the measure to Bush.
One provision in the Senate bill would end a ban on immigration and travel to the U.S. by people with HIV. It would lift the 1993 prohibition imposed by Congress and allow the Department of Health and Human Services to decide whether to take HIV off its list of communicable diseases. The disease has been on the department's list since 1987.
"The key piece is that Congress should not substitute its judgment for the judgment of Health and Human Services," said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, a New York-based group that advocates repealing the ban. "Public health should be left to the public health experts."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Here are some pictures of what we ate that night.
|salmon rilette (l) and pickled zucchini|
|butter with amazing warm fresh bread.|
|cream of broccoli soup|
|heirloom tomato salad|
|skirt steak fillet with grilled lettuce|
|wild seabass with calamari and scallop|
|panna cotta with strawberry|
The food was excellent and the service was attentive. The atmosphere at 7pm on a Thursday was a but noisy, and that was with the place not completely full. The 15 (20?) foot ceilings are impressive but are definitely not conducive to a quiet atmosphere. Of course, this is probably a conscious choice but I disapprove of eating in the presence of a din.
It's very exciting to have such a high-quality (and not overly expensive) in NELA (North East Los Angeles). The food was almost uniformly outstanding, with some exceptions. The cream of broccoli soup was a bit bland and the salmon rillette was so cold it was almost too hard to spread. Particularly excellent were the delightfully warm and fresh bread, the extremely tenderness of the beef, the subtle flavors in the fish dish and the overwhelmingly smoothness of the chocolate pudding.
A four course meal (appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert) for two (plus drinks) was under $100.
MadProfessah will be back!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here's the official order:
BENNETT v. BOWEN (HOLLINGSWORTH)
Case: S164520, Supreme Court of California
Date (YYYY-MM-DD): 2008-07-16
Event Description: Petition for writ of mandate/prohibition & stay denied
The Request For Judicial Notice In Support Of Petition For Extraordinary Relief, Including Writ Of Mandate And Request For Stay, received June 20, 2008, is
granted. Secretary of State Bowen's request that we judicially notice the excerpts from the Summary of General Election Calendar contained in her preliminary
response to the Petition For Extraordinary Relief, Including Writ of Mandate And Request For Stay, filed June 30, 2008, is granted. The Request For Judicial Notice
In Support of letter brief of Amici Curiae, received July 11, 2008, is granted. The Application for Stay and Petition For Extraordinary Relief, Including Writ of Mandate, filed June 20, 2008, is DENIED. [emphasis added]The Motion By Campaign For California Families, Randy Thomasson, And Larry Bowler To Intervene As Real
Parties In Interest, filed June 30, 2008, is denied as moot.
What it means:
The good guys (with lead plaintiff Brian Bennett, an Equality california board member) had petitioned the court to hear their arguments that the evil Proposition 8 should be stricken from the statewide ballot because signatures had been gathered with the notion that there would be no financial impact on California since the proposed constitutional amendment would only ban same-sex marriages which had already been banned by statute. However, on May 15th the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal and EQCA's argument was that Proposition 8 is now about banning future marriages and invalidating current legal marriages so it had been put on the ballot under false pretences.
Both Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Attorney General Jerry Brown opposed the good guys' motion (although they both support marriage equality). The court approved their motion and denied Equality California's. It also said that the attempt by wacko heterosexual supremacists Randy Thomasson and Larry Bowler to intervene in the case was now moot.
To support the fight against Proposition 8, go to Equality For All.
The law was largely unnoticed until then-Governor Mitt Romney publicized its existence following the legalization of same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004.
Current Governor Deval Patrick (whose lesbian daughter Katherine recently came out publicly and was warmly embraced by her family) has said that he will gladly sign the repeal legislation when it reaches his desk.
From the press release:
Don't you feel safer knowing that the Justice Department is adding twenty thousand names per month to the terrorist watch list?
"America's new million record watch list is a perfect symbol for what's wrong with this administration's approach to security: it's unfair, out-of-control, a waste of resources, treats the rights of the innocent as an afterthought, and is a very real impediment in the lives of millions of travelers in this country," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. "It must be fixed without delay."
"Putting a million names on a watch list is a guarantee that the list will do more harm than good by interfering with the travel of innocent people and wasting huge amounts of our limited security resources on bureaucratic wheel-spinning," said Steinhardt. "I doubt this thing would even be effective at catching a real terrorist."
Controls on the watch lists called for by the ACLU included:
The ACLU also called for the president - if not this one then the next - to issue an executive order requiring the lists to be reviewed and limited to only those for whom there is credible evidence of terrorist ties or activities. The review should be concluded within 3 months.
- due process
- a right to access and challenge data upon which listing is based
criteria for adding names to the lists
- rigorous procedures for updating and cleansing names from the lists.
In February, the ACLU unveiled an online "watch list counter," which has tracked the size of the watch list based on a September 2007 report by the inspector general of the Justice Department, which reported that it was growing by 20,000 names per month.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Quinnipiac. 7/8-13. MoE 2.4%.
Obama (D) 50 McCain (R) 41
Rasmussen. 7/14. MoE 4.5%. (3-day average tracking numbers in parentheses)
Obama (D) 44 (44) McCain (R) 40 (42)
Research 2000. MoE 3.5%.
Obama (D) 48 McCain (R) 43
Public Policy Polling. 7/9-10. MoE 3%.
Obama (D) 47 McCain (R) 43
As many other critics have said, the first half of the film is quite extra-ordinary--practically a silent film with almost no dialogue for 45 minutes. It really can't be emphasized enough how unusual and effective this bit of film making is.
The message of the film has started to get attention from both liberal and conservative commentators.
The film depicts a future for the earth in which the planet has been abandoned due to a complete depletion of natural resources and uncontrolled dumping of trash which resulted in piles of garbage taller than most skyscrapers. WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is left behind on Earth for 700 years to clean up the mess. Andrew Stanton, the writer and director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, came up with the idea of the lonely robot left behind all alone on Earth for hundreds of years cleaning up after them. WALL-E falls in love with another robot, EVE (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) and eventually follows her off-planet when EVE leaves to return to the former inhabitants of Earth who have been cruising around in space in cosseted comfort for centuries.
When we finally see the humans they are morbidly obese, mainly white and spend all their time being catered to be robots while gliding around in motorized comfy chairs with personalized video screens in a zero gravity atmosphere. This portrayal of humans (apparently Americans) as fat, pampered, oblivious creatures wasting away their lives consuming whatever the mega-corporation Buy-N-Large puts in front of them has been recognized by other reviewers as an unsubtle critical commentary on contemporary American living.
Overall, the movie is sad but also entertaining, and it makes you think about your own circumstance, just like great art should, because that's what it is.