Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy 19th Birthday to World's #1 Chess Player, Magnus Carlsen!

Today, November 30th, is Magnus Carlsen's 19th birthday. Carlsen, the teen grandmaster from Norway is currently the World's highest rated chess player, and is also the youngest person to reach that mark.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Carlsen, who turns 19 on Nov. 30, is only the seventh No. 1-ranked player since the ranking system began in 1970. Garry Kasparov, the Russian former world champion, became No. 1 in January 1984, when he was 20 years and 9 months old. He held the spot for 18 months, lost it, and then regained it and held it for 20 consecutive years before retiring in March 2005.

The other players to be No. 1 are all former world champions, including Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand.

Rankings are based on cumulative performances, measured by something called a rating. Mr. Carlsen’s rating is now 2,806, and Mr. Topalov’s is 2,805. Mr. Anand, 39, the current world champion, finished in a tie for fourth in Moscow and is now No. 3, with a rating of 2,790.

Although he is the world's highest rated player, Carlsen can not become World Champion for a few years. In April, Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria and defending champion Viswanathan Anand of India will play a world championship match of several games in Sofia, Bulgaria to determine the next World Champion. Carlsen is expected by many to become World Champion in the next few years.

Lambda Legal Joins "Repeal Prop 8 in 2012" Chorus

Lambda Legal has issued a statement calling "for more education and time" in order to restore marriage equality in California, says that bring the measure to a vote in 2012 would be "the strongest strategy."

From the press release

Lambda Legal Calls for More Education and Time to Restore Marriage Equality in California "While we're within striking distance, we're not there yet."

Los Angeles, November 30, 2009 - Lambda Legal today called for more
outreach, education, research and time to change hearts and minds before
returning to the ballot to reopen marriage to gay and lesbian couples in
California. At least one initiative to restore marriage equality for
same-sex couples is currently circulating that, if it qualifies, would
appear on the November, 2010 ballot, but Lambda Legal believes that putting
this measure to a vote in 2012 is the strongest strategy.

The Courage Campaign, in partnership with Lambda Legal and other leading
groups, has recently concluded the first phase of extensive and
groundbreaking research about public beliefs about marriage and gay people.
It confirms that attitudes are shifting steadily toward equal treatment of
same-sex couples, and that conversations among family members and other
close relationships inevitably speed the process.

"Over the past year since Prop 8's passage, we've expanded our community
education in California and have seen the remarkable national progress
exert a positive influence here," said Jennifer C. Pizer, Marriage Project
Director for Lambda Legal. "We've seen our many community groups
collaborating as never before. With the great field operations of the
Courage Campaign, Vote for Equality, Equality California and countless new
activists and allies across the state, the next two years hold great
promise. This work complements the efforts within California's racial and
ethnic minority communities and within the state's diverse communities of
faith. There has never been any doubt that the LGBT community and our
friends and allies will restore marriage equality in California – the only
question has been when. We now believe it's November 2012."

The recently concluded research validated the lasting effect of the work
already being done in the successful Camp Courage program and by Courage
Equality Teams organizing across the state. These grassroots efforts are
building support for marriage equality by training Californians to tap into
their community's resources to start a conversation and connect the
movement for equality to their own lives and their own experiences. This
outreach has surged ahead, fueled by the passion and determination of
countless new activists who have committed to this cause within the past
year.

"We're so close," said Pizer. "Each year, each month, public understanding
shifts a bit more in our direction. As crushing as it was to lose in Maine
this year and in California in 2008, support is building strongly in our
favor: in 2000, Proposition 22 won with 61 percent of the vote;
Proposition 8 passed by a meager margin of only four points. It's
insulting to have to wait and work to regain a core human right that should
never have been taken. As legal advocates, we know minorities should never have to beg the majority for equal rights. Given the decision by the California Supreme Court earlier this year, that's our only path. It's essential that we choose wisely when to return to the ballot – while we're within striking distance, we believe we're not there yet."
It's interesting that Lambda would release their statement now, after the 2010 absolutists are circulating petitions in a vain attempt (in multiple senses of the word!) to collect the 800K-1100K signatures necessary to qualify a Proposition 8 repeal for the statewide general election ballot next year. It seems Lambda may have been influenced by Courage Campaign also finally revealing their "neutral" stance on 2010, a change from the Rick Jacobs-led organization's previously announced gung-ho position in favor of rushing to the ballot next November. MadProfessah posted the news from Facebook posts ove rthe break, but today the Courage Campaign released a press release making it official that they no longer support a 2010 repeal effort.
“For months, we have laid out the criteria for moving forward. Like the Obama Campaign, we understand that we need a combination of powerful and clear research that informs an expertly run campaign, an unstoppable movement that harnesses the new energy we have seen since the passage of Prop. 8 and the connections through personal stories and outreach in order to win at the ballot box,” said Rick Jacobs, the Courage Campaign founder and Chair. “We are taking the lessons learned from last year’s Prop. 8 campaign, the campaigns in Maine and other states to understand the fundamental work that must be done before moving forward in California. We also must come together as a community to create a broad coalition and governance structure, put in place a strong manager and secure the resources to win. Right now, the pieces are not all in place to do so confidently.
To Lambda I say (as I did to Courage Campaign earlier), welcome to the Prepare to Prevail team! Now, let's work together to restore marriage equality in California.

BOOK REVIEW: Scott Lynch's LOCKE LAMORA Books



Scott Lynch has written two excellent fantasy novels featuring an enduring character named Locke Lamora, who is a member of a troupe of thieves called the Gentleman Bastards.

I discovered Scott Lynch after reading Patrick Rothfuss' amazing The Name of The Wind (see MadProfessah's A review) and noticing them on Amazon.com's recommendation list for people who liked Rothfuss' work. I borrowed them from the Glendale Public Library but I like them so much I would have easily paid for them.

The Lies of Locke Lamora and
Red Seas under Red Skies are intended to be the first of a seven part series of books, with the third installment, titled The Republic of Thieves scheduled for release in June 2010.

If you liked the Pirates of the Caribbean movies you would definitely like the Locke Lamora books. In fact, if there are any Hollywood types reading this blog, you should immediately try to acquire the film rights to these books--they would make excellent summer blockbusters! (Never mind, looks like Warner Brothers has it covered.)

The plots of the books are complicated so I don't want to go in detail about that aspect, but what I do want to talk about are the highlights, of which there are many. First of these is the close relationship between the lead character and his best friends, which are basically an adopted family to the orphaned Locke. Second, is the detailed description of the world in which the novels are set. There is not technology like we are used to, instead there is some level of magic in a City-State called Camorr which resembles Earth's Venice with lots of canals and gondolas and an ornate social structure with intricate class and cultural assumptions that seem somewhat reminiscent of Renaissance Italy. Third, is the suspenseful depiction of the action sequences which evoke images of James Bond and Ocean's Eleven movies.

You can tell that Lynch had fun writing the books, and the reader has fun reading them as well. I do hope that after a 3-year hiatus between Locke Lamora novels Lynch figures out a way to write the books more quickly, I can't wait to read them all!

Title:
The Lies of Locke Lamora. Length: 512 pages. Publisher: Spectra (June 27, 2006).

OVERALL GRADE: A.

PLOT: A.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: A.
WRITING: A-.

Title: Red Seas Under Red Skies. Length: 576 pages. Publisher: Spectra (July 31, 2007).

OVERALL GRADE: A/A-.

PLOT: A.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT: A-.
WRITING: A-.

Serena Gets $175K Fine and 2-Year Probation

Julian Finney/Getty Images

11-time grand slam champion and current World #1 Serena Williams has been fined $175,000 for her profane outburst that led to her default loss in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals to Kim Clijsters and could be banned from that tournament if she commits any equivalent violations in the next two years.

The committee said a further major offence at a grand slam in the next two years would see her suspended from the U.S. Open in 2010, 2011 or 2012. The fine will be reduced to $82,500 if she commits no further major offence through 2011.

"On 9 November 2009, the Grand Slam Committee administrator determined Serena Williams had committed the grand slam major offence of aggravated behavior for her misconduct at the 2009 U.S. Open," the committee said in a statement.

I'm glad that the Grand Slam Committee did not go with the rumored one million dollar fine, although I would have been fine if they had required her to put up a one million dollar bond that could be forfeited if she committed a similar major offence through 2011.

I also still think that there needs to be video review on foot fault calls. There should be no call that is not reviewable by an impartial technological device. Currently there are numerous situations where calls are made which are not reviewable by anyone: let calls (ball touches the net during the serve), foot faults (player's foot touches the line during the service motion), player contact with the ball (only the racquet is allowed to touch the tennis ball) and "not up" (ball bounces twice on their side before player hits the ball).

Electronic line calling is a fabulous advance (and should NOT be limited to 3 per set; they should be unlimited unless the umpire thinks the player is abusing the system) but it is not enough. Instant video review should be made available immediately.

Eye Candy: Adem Aluka

Adem Aluka pictures have been removed by his request on April 22, 2011.


I caught site of this stunning Black model named Adem Aluka, thanks to the Sexy Black Dudes blog.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Powerful Marriage Equality PSA from AllOrNotAtAll.org

Here's a powerful public service announcement featuring two twin sisters talking about marriage equality: one is straight and married, the other is gay and denied her right to marry the person she loves.

The PSA was put together by a small group called allornotatall.org, check out their website and help them raise money to get this PSA on the air.

Davydenko Wins ATP World Finals Over Del Potro

Nikolay Davydenko won the biggest title of his career, one day after defeating World #1 Roger Federer for the first time in 13 matches 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, by dominating Juan Martín del Potro 6-3 6-4 in the final final of the 2009 ATP Tour. del Potro managed to win 6-7 (1), 6-3, 7-6 (3) against Robin Soderling in the second semifinal on Saturday but apparently did not have much left against the Russian.

'Lost' Returns Tue Feb 2 on ABC for its final season

The final (6th) season of "Lost" begins on Tuesday February 6th at 8pm on ABC. Below is a fan-made trailer for the show.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Courage Campaign Finally 'Comes Out' Against 2010 Prop 8 Repeal

Rumors that had been swirling for weeks about a schism between the only significant organizations that were supporting a 2010 repeal of Proposition 8 were confirmed by the Bay Area Reporter this weekend:
The chair of the statewide Courage Campaign told the Bay Area Reporter this week that he doesn’t see the governing structure and other necessary elements in place to win marriage equality.

[...]

As to whether his group’s stance on 2010 has changed, Jacobs said, “Courage Campaign has never changed our attitude or the basis on which we’re operating, which is that we have to have research that informs a path to victory, a governance structure that the progressive community and LGBT community respects, a campaign manager that is empowered to make decisions reporting to that structure, and funding, so we’ve been very, very consistent on that and remain so.”

Asked if he sees those elements in place at all, Jacobs said, “I don’t see them.”

[...]

Courage Campaign has been doing research on repealing Prop 8 for months.

Jacobs said that some summaries of the research will be available “I would think sometime in December.”

After the B.A.R story, Rick Jacobs posted a lengthy statement on Facebook clarifying Courage Campaign's position on a 2010 repeal of Proposition 8:
First, I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. Second, I invite those interested here to read the blog post that the BAR put up. No where in it does it mesh with their controversy-grabbing headline: neither I nor Courage criticized the leadership of the 2010 effort. Read the story. What I do say is what we have been saying since late July. Nothing we have said has changed.

Second, I would be very interested in knowing more about the supposed meeting we had with EQCA. I will tell you that since June, Courage has sought such a meeting, has sought to improve relations in the community and we hope and expect to meet and talk soon. We look forward to working with everyone so that we stop duplicating efforts and better coordinate/share information.

Courage has a specific view of the means by which training and organizing should occur. That's why we have so many Equality Teams, all of which are led by volunteers who are, in turn, led by Deputy Field Organizers (all volunteers) with the professional leadership of a small, smart and highly motivated field staff (Hope, Arisha, Anthony and Caitlin) who in turn benefit from the leadership and experience of Sarah Callahan. ... See More

We are learning from our research and applying lessons at every turn. We try to integrate online and offline and we try as hard as we can to build on ideas and leadership of our members and volunteers. We have had some remarkable results from the ideas and work of many, many of those teams and others. The recent meeting Derrick and others held at Lucy Florence Coffee House about homophobia in the Black community is just one such example. No one person or organization can think of or do everything. We are all made more powerful by the manifold talents and ideas of others. Our job at Courage is to magnify those where we can.

Our model is to build a permanent volunteer infrastructure using the Obama Campaign as the jumping off point. We believe firmly that LGBT rights are part of the larger progressive movement. All of our work is informed by that.

In that context, it's important to look around. Last week, for the first time in years, we saw major demonstrations and non-violent civil disobedience on multiple UC campuses. Why? "Fees" (which is California French for tuition) increased 32% at UCs, resulting in a three-fold increase in ten years. Cal States are set to reject 50,000 or more eligible students because of budget cutbacks. Community colleges and Cal States are the traditional routes for advancement for those in our society least able financially to afford higher education. They are the backbone of California's once upwardly mobile workforce, the only mechanism by which we as a state can grow our way out of this economic mess. The once model California education system that took every Californian from kindergarten to post-doctoral work, is in shambles--unless you are white and rich (or in some cases just rich).

And in 2010, next month, the state's $70 billion general fund budget faces a $25 billion shortfall, plus a further debt to special funds which could effectively mean we have a $40 billion deficit. Forty billion out of $70 billion. And you thought 2009 was bad.
Think about it: our state cannot print money to get out of deficit (as can a sovereign nation) and the right wing has convinced the entire country that all government is bad. We have Meg Whitman, a billionaire who has not voted for "twenty or thirty years" saying that we have to lower taxes and spend more on higher ed. Maybe she can do that kind of voodoo math on E-Bay, but it does not work in government. If that's the ethos for 2010, we are in a whole heap of trouble. Well, we're in trouble anyway, but I and Courage are not about to sit around and wait for candidates to talk nonsense, get elected and just make things worse. We're done with that.

Now is the time for the LGBT community to stand up together and rebuild our state. Now is the time for us to stand together to lead. More about this in coming weeks and months, but clearly LGBT people, along with everyone else, are hurt when colleges are unaffordable or entrance closed, healthcare is decimated, unemployment (and underemployment) rise to over 20%. We're all in this together. As Derrick has pointed out so eloquently in what he and RENEWL do, we win equality by lending a hand, leading in a fight for all of us and showing that together we are all stronger.

As to the current effort to put an initiative on the ballot, while organizationally we will not participate for the reasons above, we do not now, nor have we ever, attempted in any way to interfere with the efforts of others to win equality as they see fit. I and Courage greatly respect that there are different paths to victory. As we have seen all too well, no one path is "correct." What we do know from Maine and our research to date is that we have a lot more to learn.

I look forward to working with everyone to win equality--economic and social--for our state and nation. And clearly it is going to take all of us.
Welcome to the Prepare to Prevail team, Mr. Jacobs!

Friday, November 27, 2009

World ATP Finals: Federer v. Davydenko, Soderling v. del Potro

Despite losing to Juan Martín Del Potro in their round robin match 2-6 7-6(5) 3-6, World #1 Roger Federer (and the 20-year-old reigning US Open Champion who beat him) advanced to the semifinals of the World ATP Finals in London on Thursday in Group A. Local favorite Andy Murray became the first person ever eliminated in the year-end round-robin fault due to the percentage of games won (50.57% to del Potro's 51.14% and Federer's 52.38%). If Federer had won one more game against del Potro or Murray had lost one less game against Federer (or won more game against Verdasco), the Brit would have qualified instead.

In the other group, defending champion Novak Djokovic was eliminated after winning 4 sets and losing 3 compared to Nikolay Davydenko who won 5 sets and losing 3 and Robin Soderling who won 5 sets and lost 2. In both groups the Spanish player lost all 3 matches (Fernando Verdasco and Rafael Nadal) and the other players all won 2 matches and lost 1. In group A, all matches went to three sets!

In the semifinals, Federer will face Davydenko, whom he has never lost to in a dozen ATP Tour matches while Soderling will face del Potro. del Potro has beaten the tall Swede in hard courts once this year (and also had a walkover over Soderling on his way to winning the Washington ATP tournament this summer over Andy Roddick). However, Soderling has beaten del Potro on carpet indoors in his hometown tournament (in 2007).

I predict another del Potro versus Federer match-up in the final. It will be interesting to see if the 15-time champion can come up with a solution to the 6'6" powerful young Argentine player with the 135+ mph first serve and the ability to his 100 mph winners on both wings. I suspect it will be another three set match, with Federer prevailing this time.

MadProfessah's pick: Federer over Davydenko in straight sets, del Potro over Soderling in three sets.

Celebrity (Black) Friday: Tyler Perry Donates $1M to NAACP

Tyler Perry has donated one million dollars to the NAACP, the largest individual donation the venerable African American civil rights organization (which celebrated the 100th anniversary of its creation this year) has ever received.

It's pretty shocking that with so many Black multimillionaires and billionaires in this country (hello, Oprah and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson?) this is the first 7 figure gift the NAACP has ever received.

If it weren't for the work of the NAACP it is exceedingly doubtful that they could have had the opportunities for extraordinary financial success that they have achieved.
NAACP leaders say Perry's donation will be used to support its Second Century campaign, which targets equality in education, health care and criminal justice heading into the next 100 years. The money will be distributed over four years, according to the NAACP.

Perry said in a statement that he credits the work of past NAACP leaders as helping pave the way for his success in the entertainment industry. He made his film debut in 2005 with "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which he wrote, directed and starred in.
I wonder if this is his mea culpa (Latin for "my bad") for Big Mama!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sade's New Album 'Soldier of Love' Debuts Feb 8, 2010

Sade is back! This is huge news in the Black and gay community: the Queen of Quiet Storm will be releasing her next album entitled Soldier of Love on February 8, 2010. The last two albums from the British-Nigerian diva was 2000's Lovers Rock and 1992's Love Deluxe. Sade first debuted in 1984(!) with Diamond Life and will turn 51 on January 16, 2010.

What are your favorite Sade songs? My top 5 (don't make me rank them!) would be:
By Your Side
Smooth Operator
The Sweetest Taboo
No Ordinary Love
Siempre Hay Esperanza
This list is just from on the top of my head, and that doesn't even include "Lovers Rock" and "King of Sorrow" from Lovers Rock or "Your Love Is King" and "Is It A Crime" from the first album. Hmmm, maybe it should be a Top 10. Post your favorites in the comments.

Federer Clinches Year-End #1 For 5th Time in 6 Years

15-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is guaranteed to end the year as the World #1 for the 5th time in 6 years by defeating Andy Murray in London 3-6 6-3 6-1 at the World ATP Finals. Only Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors have been able to finish #1 at the end of the year five times; Sampras was ranked #1 at the end of the year for 6 consecutive years from 1993-1998 and Connors was #1 for 5 consecutive years from 1974-1978. Federer was #1 at the end of year for four consecutive years from 2004-2007, was #2 in 2003 and 2008 and returned to #1 at the end of 2009. Federer becomes the first player ever to spend 7 consecutive years at either #1 or #2.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Arnold Picks Rep. Senator To Replace Dem. Lt. Gov.

Photo Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

It's all about Lieutenant Governors today! Since California Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi won the 10th Congressional District race on November 3rd and was sworn in a few days later, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has the opportunity to choose a replacement, which he announced yesterday will be Republican State Senator Abel Maldonado.

Yesterday, MadProfessah attended a forum where the two leading Democratic contenders for Lieutenant Govenor in the June 2010 primary, Los Angeles City Councilperson (15th District) Janice Hahn and State Senator Dean Florez appeared at the monthly Stonewall Democratic Club meeting.

Before they spoke, SDC President John Cleary asked both candidates their view about the Maldonado appointment. Florez said that as someone who will be voting on the matter in the State Legislature within 90 days, he opposed the nomination, primarily because he didn't see why they should allow a Republican governor to replace a Democratic state constitutional officeholder with a Republican. Janice Hahn gave a non-commital response, but both Hahn and Florez thought that either of them could defeat State Senator Jeff Denham, the only Republican who has announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor.

At Calitics, progressive activists received the Governor's creation of State Senate vacancy in a Republican held but Democratic leaning seat with glee:

I am one happy camper. This is perhaps the best news progressives AND Democrats have gotten in this state all year long. I live in SD-15, and Abel Maldonado is, sadly, my State Senator. He is a joke of a Senator, a "moderate" politician when it is convenient for him, a conservative one generally speaking. He only won re-election last year because he and Don Perata cut a terrible deal in 2007, where Perata promised to stop a Democratic primary challenge in exchange for his vote on that budget deal.

But more importantly, this seat - SD-15 - is one of the two seats we need to reach 2/3rds in the State Senate. And like SD-12, it is a majority Democratic seat. The current registration numbers are 41% Dem, 34.5% Rep, and 23% DTS. Arnold Schwarzenegger has just created a huge and invaluable opening for us to break the Zombie Death Cult grip on the State Senate.
Florez referenced the debate on Calitics during his remarks at the SDC forum. It would really be great to have a 2/3rds Democratic majority in the State Senate, but we would still be four seats shy in the 80 seat State Assembly from a 2/3rds Democratic majority in the lower house.

The correct solution is to change the insane 2/3rds requirement for passage of a budget and taxes by enacting the California Democracy Act: "All legislative actions on revenue and budget must be determined by a majority vote."

I signed a petition to have these fourteen words appear on the November 2010 ballot, and I hope you will too.

MA-GOV: Black vs. Gays, Part 42

Here we go again! In Massachusetts, Republican Charlie Baker is running for Governor against African-American incumbent Democrat Deval Patrick has chosen an openly gay running mate, Richard Tisei. Tisei is the State Senate Minority Leader and is a strong supporter of marriage for same-sex couples in the Bay state, where it has been legal since May 17, 2004. The Baker-Tisei ticket will be running against two very strong supporters of marriage in Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murphy.

So, once again the Black community will be pitted against the gay community, although I suspect that for many in the gay and Black communities the choice in the Massachusetts governor's race will be clear: The Patrick-Murphy ticket.

Currently polling in Massachusetts gubernatorial race shows a tight three-way race between Democrat Patrick, Republican Baker and Independent Tim Cahill. Patrick's approval ratings are low, with 55 percent of respondents saying that they want a new Governor next year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hate Crimes Against Gays Rise In LA County

111: Hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2007
134: Hate crimes based on sexual orientation in 2008
105: Hate crimes based on religion in 2007
120: Hate crimes based on religion in 2008
763: Overall hate crimes in 2007
729: Overall hate crimes in 2008

The Los Angeles Daily News is reporting that the number of hate crimes in Los Angeles County decreased overall, but increased in several categories such as sexual orientation and religion.

Sexual orientation hate crimes rose the most last year, with more than 80 percent targeting gay men and at least nine crimes traced to Proposition 8.

One incident highlighted in the report involved a white lesbian couple walking hand-in-hand on the beach in Malibu. The mother of a white tourist family from Arkansas told them, "You are going to burn in hell!" and dumped her water bottle on one of them and punched one in the face.

"The worst part of the story is that hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are the most violent hate crimes of all," said Lorri Jean, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

"Seventy-three percent of all anti-gay and anti-lesbian hate crimes were violent. And the frightening truth is that equal numbers of LGBT people were targeted in public places as in their residences.
"
Almost two-thirds of the religious-based hate crimes were anti-Jewish.

Eye Candy: Donnell Cartwright



Donnell Cartwright has been featured on Another Guy Blog and on Rod 2.0 but David Dust had him first. He's apparently a 21-year-old from Phoenix, Arizona, according to Queerty.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ATP Year-End Championships Starts

The last tournament of the year on the men's side starts today in London, the Barclays ATP World Your Finals (formerly known as the ATP Masters Series Championships). Last year's tournament was won by Novak Djokovic.

Here's the draw:
Group A
Roger Federer (SUI)
Andy Murray (GBR)
Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

Group B
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Nikolay Davydenko (RUS)
Robin Soderling (SWE)
Hat/tip to Craig Hickman. If Nadal gets further than Federer, the Spaniard could end the year at #1 for the second consecutive year, despite Federer appearing in Four grand slam finals this year and winning two (Roland Garros and Wimbledon), while Nadal won one (Australia).

Parker Gets Houston Chronicle Endorsement for Mayor

Annise Parker, who is trying to become the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city, has garnered the endorsement of her hometown's largest newspaper, the Houston Chronicle.

In both her public and personal life, Parker has maintained high ethical standards and decorum in her years as an elected official. No scandals have occurred on her watch. As mayor she will present the city’s best face to the world, one of tolerance, diversity and compassion for all our citizens.

The Chronicle urges voters to allow Parker to take her high standards and solid record of accomplishment to the city’s highest office.

However, this week came word that local homophobes are distributing 35,000 copies of an anti-gay flier to Houston residents with a picture of Parker and her female partner under the large caption "Is This The Image Houston Wants To Portray?"

The main person behind the flyer gave interviews where he said such charming nonsense as "homosexual behavior leads to extinction." This is always one of the craziest arguments in the raving homophobes arsenal. Do they really think heterosexual will stop having straight sex if gay people become more prominent and liberated? The answer is obviously no, and if it were yes, what does that say about the allure of heterosexuality? Not much!

To support Annise Parker for Mayor, go to www.victoryfund.org/anniseparker

Oscar Grant's Killer's Trial Moved To Los Angeles


Big news in the case of the former BART police officer who was videotaped fatally shooting an unarmed 22-year-old Black man named Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009. The judge has moved the trial of 27-year-old Johannes Mehserle to Los Angeles County from Alameda County:

The trial of a white former San Francisco Bay Area transit officer charged in the killing of an unarmed black man will be moved to Los Angeles County because of extensive media coverage and other possible distractions to trial participants, a judge in Oakland ruled Thursday.

The decision by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson comes a month after he decided the murder trial of Johannes Mehserle would be moved out of that area.

State court officials recommended Los Angeles and San Diego counties to the judge as possible sites for a trial.

[...]

According to 2008 Census figures, 14% of Alameda County’s 1.5 million residents are African American, compared with 9% of the 9.9 million residents in Los Angeles County and 5% of 3 million residents in San Diego County.
MadProfessah helped organize a vigil and rally earlier this year in Leimert Park calling attention to the senseless murder of Oscar Grant.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Birthday to Cherry Jones

Greg in Hollywood alerted me that today is the 53rd birthday of Cherry Jones, the Emmy-winning award best supporting actress of Fox's 24 television series (she plays the President of the United States).

Jones is also one of the most prominent openly lesbian actresses working in Hollywood, and Greg repeats the news that she is newly single, having recently broken up with actress Sarah Paulson.

Evangelical Christians Attack Marriage Equality

Here we go again! Religious-based heterosexual supremacists are continuing their millenia-long subjugation of LGBT people. The Manhattan Declaration has been released, courtesy of Good As You. Here is an excerpt:
No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow. First, the religious liberty of those for whom this is a matter of conscience is jeopardized. Second, the rights of parents are abused as family life and sex education programs in schools are used to teach children that an enlightened understanding recognizes as “marriages” sexual partnerships that many parents believe are intrinsically non-marital and immoral. Third, the common good of civil society is damaged when the law itself, in its critical pedagogical function, becomes a tool for eroding a sound understanding of marriage on which the flourishing of the marriage culture in any society vitally depends. Sadly, we are today far from having a thriving marriage culture. But if we are to begin the critically important process of reforming our laws and mores to rebuild such a culture, the last thing we can afford to do is to re-define marriage in such a way as to embody in our laws a false proclamation about what marriage is.
It's fascinating how they sustain the fiction of religious liberty being jeopardized by civil marriage laws being changed! I think the source of this intellectual disconnect is a profound misunderstanding of what the notion of a civil, pluralistic society is. In a civil pluralistic society, different people can hold diametrically opposed views but the government provides rights and responsibilities equally to all.

The second argument is simply stupid. Are they going to call for no public education programs to teach about partnerships that parents feel are "intrinsically non-marital or immoral"? Will they call for legislation to that effect? I thought we got past the "no promo homo" language in the early 1990s. Have they not heard of the first Amendment? The government doesn't get to favor one view over another. So, either kids will learn nothing about sexuality and adult relationships (which is probably what these evangelicals would prefer) or they have to learn about all.

The third argument is simply a lamentation that they are losing the argument in the Courts.

Greatest Quotes From 'The Wire'

Friday, November 20, 2009

Celebrity Friday: Chaz Bono


Chaz Bono, born as the daughter of singer-actress (and gay icon) Cher, is now Cher's son, an FTM transsexual. He says "gender is in your head, not between your legs."

Marriage Update: New York and New Jersey

Interesting developments in the fight for marriage equality in New York and New Jersey in the last few days.

First, yesterday the New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) ruled unanimously to reject a legal challenge to the policy that New York same-sex couples married out of state must have those marriages recognized in the state.

In their majority ruling, four of the seven members of the court said they were making their decision on narrow grounds involving the specifics of each case, and not settling the broader question of whether same-sex marriages performed in other states should be recognized. Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr., writing for the majority, expressed “hope that the Legislature will address this controversy.”

But in a concurring decision, three of the justices said that the court should have addressed the wider issue because New York law already allows for the recognition of marriages that are considered legal elsewhere.

Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who wrote the concurring decision, said “that the orders under review should be affirmed on the ground that same-sex marriages, valid where performed, are entitled to full legal recognition in New York under our state’s longstanding marriage recognition rule.”

The New York State Senate is expected to vote on a marriage equality bill before the end of the year.

And in New Jersey, a poll was released showing that a plurality support marriage equality, and a slim majority would support a bill, if the legislature legalized the practice.

The poll, conducted between Nov. 6 and 10, found 46 percent of adult residents want to extend the right to gay couples while 42 percent oppose it. Still undecided were 12 percent of respondents.

[...]

If lawmakers pass the bill legalizing gay marriage, 52 percent would accept the new law, while 40 percent would support a constitutional amendment banning it, the poll said.

Go New York and New Jersey!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2010 Absolutists Select Repeal Prop 8 Language

The cadre of activists who are determined to force the people California to vote on restoring marriage equality ("whether they like it or not!") have selected which of the five approved ballot measures they will circulate in order to collect approximately one million signatures in 150 days. It's 09-0042, the fifth one.

Here is the full text:
This amendment would amend an existing section of the California
Constitution. Existing language proposed to be deleted is printed in
strikeout type. Language proposed to be added is printed in underlined
type
.

Section 1. To protect religious freedom, no court shall interpret
this measure to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other
person authorized to perform marriages by any religious denomination,
church, or other non-profit religious institution to perform any
marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. The refusal to
perform a marriage under this provision shall not be the basis for
lawsuit or liability, and shall not affect the tax-exempt status of
any religious denomination, church or other religious institution.

Section 2. To provide for fairness in the government’s issuance of
marriage licenses, Section 7.5 of Article I of the California
Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: Sec. 7.5. Only
marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in
California.
Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be
restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender,
sexual orientation, or religion.
I will not be signing the petition, and I urge you not to sign it either! Although I am a strong supporter of marriage equality, this measure is very unlikely to be successful, and when it fails it will have a detrimental effect on more organized and well-thought out strategies to win back marriage equality in such a way that the win is permanent.

Caster Semenya Will Keep Gold Medal

Caster Semenya will keep her gold medal, according to several published reports, including in The New York Times:

In a statement posted on the Web, the South African Sports Ministry said that it had reached this deal with the International Association of Athletics Federations, or I.A.A.F.:

Because Caster has been found to be innocent of any wrong, she will then –
• Retain her gold medal
• Retain her title of 800m World Champions
• Retain her prize money.

We have also agreed with the I.A.A.F. that whatever scientific tests were conducted legally within the I.A.A.F. regulations will be treated as a confidential matter between patient and doctor. As such there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found. We urge all South Africans and other people to respect this professional ethical and moral way of doing things.

The implications of the scientific findings on Caster’s health and life going forward will be analyzed by Caster and she will make her own decision on her future.

Reuters reported that “The I.A.A.F. said it could not confirm the details in the statement but said it had accepted the resignation of Athletics South Africa (A.S.A.) President Leonard Chuene from the I.A.A.F. Council and had opened a formal investigation into the handling of the Semenya affair by Chuene and A.S.A.”
The Times goes on to discuss the more interesting question of sex/gender and genetic rarities in sports, publishing this insightful comment:

Last month, The Times published an article by Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, in which she looked at some of the issues involved. Ms. Dreger wrote:

The current policies of the International Association of Athletics Federations are vague, incomplete and contradictory. For example, one states that some women with some male-typical aspects (including, in some cases, a Y chromosome and testes) can play as women, but it doesn’t specify which combinations disqualify an athlete. This means a woman like Semenya can’t really know for sure, in advance of competition, if she should show up.

The I.A.A.F. requires that transsexual women have their hormone levels kept female-typical through removal of the testes and ingestion of female-typical hormones.

Fair enough. But it allows born-females with adrenal tumors to compete as women, even though their bodies may have higher levels of testosterone than the average male. Not too consistent.

Update | 12:53 p.m. A reader named Kahla writes with this comment:

This “controversy” illuminates a double standard with respect to sex/gender as against other genetic rarities in sports. In one case, a female athlete, who may (or may not — as it remains unconfirmed) have male attributes due to a genetic rarity, could be denied the ability to compete in future matches because of the perceived unfair advantage that follows from it. Yet, where rare genetic traits do not implicate concerns over the proper gender assignment of the sports participant, such disqualifications are not contemplated, much less fathomable. A rare genetic trait (Marfan’s Syndrome) gives swimmer Michael Phelps a competitive edge and he is revered as the greatest swimmer of all time rather than investigated and subjected to genetic testing. Moreover, no discussion of disqualification from future matches ensues. Understandably, “gender testing” is unlikely to disappear from sports (and perhaps shouldn’t for numerous reasons not relevant here). But, these two cases illustrate that our fastidious adherence to rigid categorical distinctions between the sexes lends to disparities in the treatment of individuals whose genetics do not match with these predefined, and some would argue socially constructed, sex/gender categories.

Fascinating!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Federal DP benefits Bill Passes House Committee

The White House Media Affairs Office just sent out a press release featuring John Berry, the openly gay head of the Office of Personnel Management, lauding the movement of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act:

OPM Director John Berry lauds passage of Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act through House Committee on Oversight and Government Management

Bill provides essential recruitment tool for the Federal government

Washington, DC – Earlier today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Management approved H.R. 2517, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, sponsored by Representative Tammy Baldwin. The measure extends benefits to the domestic partners of Federal employees, including participation in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program, retirement and survivor benefits, relocation reimbursements and other benefits currently offered to spouses of Federal employees. The Committee also adopted an amendment offered by Chairman Edolphus Towns that made changes to the legislation to ensure proper implementation.

“I want to commend the Committee for approving the Domestic Partnership Benefits Act,” said U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry. “This is an essential recruitment tool as we seek the best and the brightest to tackle the many challenges America faces.”

Berry also said: “This is a positive step that helps the federal government to better compete with other employers for top talent. President Obama has stated clearly that this is an issue of equality. But just as important, youth today, LGBT or not, see this benefit as a litmus test for determining high quality employers. The Administration looks forward to continuing its work with lawmakers as the House and the Senate move toward enactment of this bill.”

OPM oversees human resources and benefits policies for over 1.9 million Federal civil servants and 2.5 million retirees and survivor annuitants.

But I guess nothing positive is happening on LGBT rights in this Administration so we might as well as boycott them. Not.

VIDEO: Stephen Colbert Comments On Recent Gay Controversies

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Skeletons in the Closet
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2010 Absolutists File Five Initiatives To Repeal Prop 8

TowleRoad is reporting that the Attorney General has released its title and summary of five nearly identical ballot measures filed by what I call "2010 absolutists" that would repeal Proposition 8 in 2010, if the measure qualifies for the ballot (694,354 valid signatures collected in 150 days--April 12) and passed by voters on November 4, 2010.

Here is what they look like (pdf):
The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponents and to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then provides calendar deadlines to the proponents and to county elections officials, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the first measure is as follows:
REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0036.)

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1385 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0036.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the second measure is as follows:
REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any clergy person to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0039.)
The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1387 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0039.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the third measure is as follows:

REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person authorized to perform marriages by any religious organization to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0040.)

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1388 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0040.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the fourth measure is as follows:

REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any clergy person to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0041.)

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1389 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0041.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the fifth measure is as follows:

REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0042.)
The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1390 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0042.
The proponents for the ballot measures are LGBT (and ally) activists: John Henning, Jordan Krueger, Raphael Farrow, Andrew Klayman, Jo Hoenninger, Peter Nguyen, Thomas Watson, Edwin Rivera, Angie-Marie Hancock and Fredy Ceja.

Monday, November 16, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: Where The Wild Things Are

The Other Half and MadProfessah decided to go see Where The Wild Things Are in the theaters last weekend before it disappears to a television, computer screen or DVD. The film is directed by Spike Jonze well-known for his trippy, unique filmic vision song apparent in Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002) and several genre-defining music videos (Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," Björk's "It's So Quiet" to name a few).
Both Being John Malkovich and Adaptation were written by the even trippier Charlie Kaufman but the adaptation of Maurice Sendak's beloved children book was written by Jonze and Dave Eggers (who wrote the screenplay for Away We Go released earlier this summer directed by Mr. Kate Winslet, Sam Mendes--see MadProfessah's B/B+ review).

The movie got both rave reviews and indifferent responses but there was general consensus (rottentomatoes.com score of 70%) that it was a visually arresting, if emotionally harrowing and dark vision of the imaginary world of an 8-year-old named Max.

The Other Half liked the movie more than I did. I enjoyed trying to figure out who was playing the voices of the Wild Things. "Hey, is that Claire from Six Feet Under? I really think KW is the red-headed actress from HBO." I was correct that KW is voiced by Lauren Ambrose but did not figure out that James Gandolfini played the lead Wild Thing named Carol and Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), Chris Cooper, Forrest Whitaker and Catherine O'Hara are in the amazing cast.

The film does look amazing, and there are some very fun visually uplifting sequences, but in the end the overall impact of the experience is somewhat emotionally draining because it is basically a depiction of the many ways adults use speech and emotional non-verbal communication to attempt to hurt and manipulate others. There is a lot of talking in this movie, and a lot of unrepressed rage displayed by little creatures and big creatures alike.

Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language.

Plot: C-.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: A-.
Impact: B-.

Overall Grade: B/B-.

Homophobes Worried Next Mayor Of Houston May Be Lesbian



Annise Parker, the City Controller of Houston,is the current frontrunner to become the next Mayor of Houston. She finished first in a crowded field of candidates on November 3rd and is in a runoff election with African American City Treasurer Gene Locke scheduled to be held December 15. She is also openly gay. She's been elected citywide five times in the last dozen years or so.


TowleRoad quotes from the Houston Chronicle
"The group is motivated by concerns about a 'gay takeover' of City Hall, given that two other candidates in the five remaining City Council races are also openly gay, as well as national interest driven by the possibility that Houston could become the first major U.S. city to elect an openly gay woman. Another primary concern is that Parker or other elected officials would seek to overturn a 2001 city charter amendment that prohibits the city from providing benefits to the domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees. 'The bottom line is that we didn't pick the battle, she did, when she made her agenda and sexual preference a central part of her campaign,' said Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, numbering more than 200 senior pastors in the Greater Houston area. 'National gay and lesbian activists see this as a historic opportunity. The reality is that's because they're promoting an agenda which we believe to be contrary to the concerns of the community and destructive to the family.'"

Parker, however, has not made these issues a central part of her campaign: "Parker has tread carefully in her candidacy for mayor, stressing frequently that she is running not as a gay candidate but as a qualified city official who's won election six times. In a televised debate last month, she voiced 'no current plans' to revisit the city charter amendment if elected, although she said the city will need to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees 'at some point.'"

Oh, and it turns out that Parker's rival for the Mayoralty of Houston is Black.

So, here we go again: Black versus Gays! This race will almost definitely get more coverage as the end of the year approaches. See the CNN profile on Annise Parker from earlier this year.

Eye Candy: JC Sibala



UPDATE 06/24/2011 3:42PM
Pictures of JC Sibala have been removed by his request.

I was flitting around the web looking for smoking hot models and ran into these pictures of Filipino hottie JC Sibala in a sea of hot white boys (not there's anything wrong with that!) at Gay Body Blog. Is it just me, or is it difficult to find pictures of pulchritudinous people of color online? If you have any tips for sources of Eye Candy of a darker flava, drop them in the comments.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Paris Masters: Djokovic Defeats Monfils in 3-set Thriller


Novak Djokovic won his second consecutive title on Sunday and his first ATP Masters Series crown of 2009 by defeating Gael Monfils of France 6-2 5-7 7-6(3) in front of a hometown crowd in Paris. Last week, Djokovic beat Roger Federer in 3 sets in the 3-time defending champion's hometown of Basel, Swizerland to win the Davidoff Swiss Indoor Championships.

Monfils lost the first set in about 30 minutes but came back to win the second, and despite being down a break in the third set never gave up and unfortunately double-faulted on match point in the deciding tie-breaker.

Djokovic will be defending his ATP World Tour championship from 2008 in London in two weeks, with a field that will include Federer, Rafael Nadal (who Djokovic beat in Paris), Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Roddick, Fernando Verdasco and Nikolay Davydenko.

WATCH: Maine NO ON 1 Documentary

PART ONE:

PART 2:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

POLL: President Obama Approval at 52%

Today is Approved Referendum 71 Day in Seattle!


This is pretty cool. The City of Seattle is declaring today, November 14, 2009, Approved Referendum 71 day. [Note the change in tense from Approve to Approved]
Whereas, civil rights and liberties have long been values of the City of Seattle; and

Whereas, the council recognized the importance of the extended domestic partnership law by endorsing the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign; and

Whereas, equality for all Seattleites is important and has a lasting effect on the city; and

Whereas, the LGBT community is an important and integral part of what makes the City of Seattle a great place to live, work, and go to school; and

Whereas, the historic vote to approve Referendum 71 in Washington State sends a message to the rest of the country that the rights and responsibilities afforded to heterosexual married couples are now available to same-sex domestic partners registered with Washington State, and provides important protections to all Washington families; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT PROCLAIMED THAT THE SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL DECLARES NOVEMBER 14, 2009 TO BE VICTORY, REFERENDUM 71 APPROVED DAY IN THE CITY OF SEATTLE.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin