Friday, September 30, 2011

Celebrity Friday: Brad Pitt Explains Marriage Equality Support

Brad Pitt, the once and future Sexiest Man Alive, gave an interview to the widely read Sunday newspaper insert Parade Magazine which explains his unconditional support for marriage equality:
“Can you believe that we’re still fighting for equality in America? To be against marriage for everyone is utter discrimination.  I feel strongly about that because if equality of marriage doesn’t happen now, the next generation will have to deal with it.

“It is an amazing thing that New York has finally gotten same-sex marriage. But the real problem is that the federal government hides behind states on this issue. It is blatant, ugly bigotry, and the federal government shouldn’t be doing that. You’re denying some Americans the right that all Americans have, to live their lives as they choose.

“What are you so afraid of? That’s my question. Gay people getting married? What is so scary about that? It’s complicated.  You grow up in a religion like that and you try to pray the gay away. I feel sadness for people like that. This is where people start short-circuiting—instead of being brave and questioning their beliefs, they are afraid and feel that they have to defend them.

“I don’t mind a world with religion in it. There are some beautiful tenets within all religions.  What I get hot about is when they start dictating how other people must live. People suffer because of it. They are spreading misery. 
I couldn't have said it better myself. Go Brad! Looking good at 47 years old, too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Obama Comments on DOMA and LGBT Bullying

President Barack Obama appeared at a public forum for Hispanic media on  Wednesday and answered two questions of interest to LGBT folks.

One question was on bullying:

MR. SIADE:  This question comes from Florida:  Since bullying is increasing in an alarming way in the U.S., what can be done to avoid further discrimination or bullying within various racial groups, particularly for Hispanic kids in school?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think it's a really important question.  We actually had the first-ever conference on bullying here in the White House -- because for young people it’s hard enough growing up without also then being subject to constant harassment.  And the kind of bullying that we’re seeing now, including using the Internet and new media, can be very oppressive on young people.

     So what we’ve tried to do is to provide information and tools to parents, to schools, to communities to push back and fight against these kinds of trends.  And a lot of the best work has actually been done by young people themselves who start anti-bullying campaigns in their schools, showing how you have to respect everyone, regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of sexual orientation.  And when you get a school environment in which that’s not accepted by young people themselves, where they say we’re not going to tolerate that kind of bullying, that usually ends up making the biggest difference, because kids react to their peer group more than sometimes they do adults.

And what we need to do is make sure that we’re providing tools to schools and to young people to help combat against bullying, and it’s something that we'll continue to work on with local communities and local school districts as well.

MR. LERNER:  So you’re going to have a conference on bullying in the White House?

THE PRESIDENT:  We already did.  We had it -- it was probably four or five months ago.  And we brought in non-profit groups, religious leadership, schools, students themselves.  And they have now organized conferences regionally, around the country, so that we can prevent this kind of bullying from taking place.
And another was on DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act:
MR. LERNER:  Mr. President, on the Defense of Marriage Act, also called DOMA, this comes from Kevin in North Carolina.  He says:  I'm a gay American who fell in love with a foreigner.  As you know, due to DOMA, I'm not permitted to sponsor my foreign-born partner for residency.  And as a result, we are stuck between a rock and an impossible situation.  How do you intend to fix this?  Waiting for DOMA to be repealed or struck down in the courts will potentially take years.  What do binational couples do in the meantime?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we made a decision that was a very significant decision, based on my assessment of the Constitution, that this administration would not defend DOMA in the federal courts.  It's not going to be years before this issue is settled. This is going to be settled fairly soon, because right now we have cases pending in the federal courts.

     Administratively, we can't ignore the law.  DOMA is still on the books.  What we have said is even as we enforce it, we don't support it, we think it's unconstitutional.  The position that my administration has taken I think will have a significant influence on the court as it examines the constitutionality of this law.  And once that law is struck down -- and I don't know what the ruling will be -- then addressing these binational issues could flow from that decision, potentially.

     I can't comment on where the case is going to go.  I can only say what I believe, and that is that DOMA doesn't make sense; it’s unfair; I don't think that it meets the demands of our Constitution.  And in the meantime, if -- I’ve already said that I’m also supportive of Congress repealing DOMA on it’s own and not waiting for the courts.  The likelihood of us being able to get the votes in the House of Representatives for DOMA repeal are very low at this point so, truthfully, the recourse to the courts is probably going to be the best approach.

Any thoughts on how Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann would answer these questions?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

READ: Letter From 67 U.S. Reps To DHS Napolitano

LGBT Immigration Letter to DHS Sec Napolitano By U.S. Reps

Lost Producers Confess They Made It All Up Ad Hoc

Damon Lindelof (left) and Carlton Cuse were the showrunners on Lost
As you may recall, I was a huge fan of the television series Lost and was verklempt when it went off the air Sunday May 23, 2010.

The story was so complex that there was always a suspicion about whether the writers and producers really knew what they wanted to do all the time and was the intricacy intended genius or unintended confusion.

One of the main executive producers, Damon Lindelof, now admits it was more of the latter:

"The biggest issue with a desert island show was the audience is going to get very frustrated that the characters were not getting off the island," he said. "My solution was, hey, let's get off the island every week. And the way we're going to do that is we're going to do these flashbacks. We'll do one character at a time and there's going to be like 70 characters on the show, so we'll go really, really slow, and each one will basically say, here's who they were before the crash and it'll dramatize something that's happening on the island and it will also make the show very character-centric."
Abrams liked the idea, and also had another: "'There should be a hatch on this island! They spend the entire season trying to get it open. And there should be these other people on the island,'" Lindelof recalled Abrams saying. "And I'm like, ''We can call them The Others.' And he's like, 'They should hear this noise out there in the jungle.' And I'm like, 'What's the noise?' And he's like, 'I don't...know. They're never going to pick this thing up anyway.'"
Lindelof said the idea to tell the story out of chronological order came in part from "Pulp Fiction," in which John Travolta's character is killed about halfway through -- and viewers learn only at the end that he had failed to heed Samuel Jackson's speech in the diner about the path of the righteous man.
"That sort of flipped the switch in me, and was something that I really wanted to do as a storyteller and 'Lost' was really the perfect opportunity to do it," Lindelof said.
The most amusing revelation is that Lindelof really just wanted to get a job on J.J. Abrams' hit show Alias (which I also loved) which is why he originally met with Abrams and then was offered his new show while Abrams went off to direct movies like Star Trek  and Mission Impossible 3.

NFL Player-Owner Agreement Bans Anti-Gay Discrimination

This is another sign of the demise of the salience of homophobia in American life. The National Football League agreement between the players' union and the owners guarantees non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Section 1. No Discrimination: There will be no discrimination in any form against any player by the Management Council, any Club or by the NFLPA because of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or activity or lack of activity on behalf of the NFLPA.
Hat/tip to Wide Rights! If you can't discriminate against gay soldiers or gay football players why should you be able to discriminate in 31 states against gay employees in private businesses?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heterosexual Supremaists Caught Lying About SB48 (Again)

The above video shows that people are being told that they are signing petitions to increase penalties for child molestation when actually they are signing petitions to repeal SB 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, Respectful Education Act of 2011 which mandates the inclusion of LGBT people in school history curricula.That's all the law does. If you think teaching kids about Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin and Gertrude Stein will turn them into gays and lesbians you need to get your nose out of the Bible!

This is not the first time and it probably won't be the last time that religious extremists and heterosexual supremacists will be caught lying, cheating and stealing to get SB 48 on the June 2012 ballot.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Eye Candy: Ryan Hughes (reprise)

Ryan Hughes has appeared on Eye Candy before (September 5, 2011). He is a 24-year-old body builder and fitness model who has a blog (by invitation only) and a twitter account. He also has a Facebook fan page. As you can see, there's a lot of reasons why a lot of people like to look at Ryan, especially with as little clothing as possible!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Stapelia gigantea, lure to the flies

This is our first time blooming this Stapelia gigantea, obtained a little more than a year ago as a small cutting. The plant has grown boisterously, increasing 4x in size in that time and sending out at least 8 blooms, each 6 to 8 inches across. The flower smells rank like a dead animal. But honestly I don't mind it too much. Maybe that's because I know it's just a flower. Or maybe because the scent is a mere facsimile, it lacks some of the sheer, repellent, gaseous power of actual rotting flesh.
The huge flower of Stapelia gigantea uses its carrion scent to coax flies to visit and pollinate.

Stapelia gigantea flower before opening

Herman Cain Wins FL Straw Poll

Wowsa! Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder in the Republican presidential nominating contest, comes  this:

Herman Cain: 37.11%
Rick Perry: 15.43%
Mitt Romney: 14.00%
Rick Santorum: 10.88%
Ron Paul: 10.39%
Newt Gingrich: 8.43%
Jon Huntsman: 2.26%
Michele Bachmann: 1.51%

Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's pizza and only person of color in the crowded Republican field, placed first in the Florida straw poll. Michele Bachmann, a notable homophobe, placed dead last, with stupid AND homophobic Rick Santorum placing 4th, behind Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Interesting!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Djokovic's Body Fails Him

In last week's Davis Cup matches, World #1 Novak Djokovic was unable to carry his team to victory, unlike last year. Djokovic retired from Serbia's semi-final tie with Argentina, allowing the South American country to reach another Davis Cup final. It should be interesting to see if the difference in results will have an impact on Djokovic's 2012 (or perhaps even the rest of 2011).

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro was his country's Davis Cup hero, and they will face the indomitable Spain in the final tie in December which will of course be on red dirt in Spain, presumably Madrid. World #2 Rafael Nadal, who Djokovic has beaten in 6 very important finals this year so far, was devastatingly effective against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet, serving up a bagel set in each of his straight set thrashings of the French players.

World #3 Roger Federer boarded a plane to Australia a mere hours after his heart-wrenching loss to Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals (up two match points for the second consecutive year) and to try and get Switzerland back into the Davis Cup World Group (and confirm his eligibility for next year's London Olympics. Switzerland was able to win their tie 3-2 with Federer contributing wins over Bernard Tomic and Lleyton Hewit and then teaming up with Stanislas Wawrinka to lose a tight doubles match against Hewitt and Chris Guccione. Wawrinka became the star for the Swiss team when he won a 5-set match against Hewitt 6-3 (after the match was suspended for darkness at 5-3!) to clinch the win for the Swiss and eliminate the Australians.

It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, these Davis Cup results have on the 2012 Grand Slam results (and the 2012 London Olympics).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Celebrity Friday: First African Miss Universe Fights HIV

Leila Luliana da Costa Vieira Lopes,
Miss Angola, was crowned Miss Universe
Leila Lopes, Miss Angola, became the first winner of the Miss Universe beauty pageant from Africa this week. I believe she is the first "dark-skinned" woman to win the most famous beauty pageant in the world.

Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper reports:
This is the first time a beauty queen from Angola has been crowned as Miss Universe. She is first black African to win the 60 year-old pageantry. Nigeria’s Agbani Darego won the 51st Miss World pageant in Sun City, South Africa, on 17 November, 2001.


The brand new Miss Universe, Leila Lopes said she wants to help her native Angola escape a history of war and impoverishment and work towards combating HIV.
Being crowned at the ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 25-year-old said that “as Miss Angola, I’ve already done a lot to help my people.”
“I’ve worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV. I work to protect the elderly and I have to do everything that my country needs,” she said. “I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Blackout & All-Clear by Connie Willis

Connie Willis is one of my favorite science fiction authors, having written the incredible Doomsday Book (see my A+ review). Last year she returned to the time-travelling universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing Of The Dog with the duology Blackout/All-Clear.

The diptych Blackout/All-Clear was immediately critically acclaimed and became Willis' second book to win both of the top awards in science fiction, the 2011 Nebula award and the 2011 Hugo award.

The books use the assumption that by 2060 time-travel is possible, although due to the chance of changing the future by changing the past, it is mainly only used by academics. The books are set in Oxford University and generally involved graduate students who need to go back in time as part of their "field research" for their studies on particular historical events.

The first thing to realize about Blackout/All-Clear is that it is really not two books, it is one book split into two parts, so you should not expect a conclusion at the end of Blackout. In fact, I would strongly recommend that however you procure Blackout to read it, you should save yourself the anxiety and just get the second half of the book as well, All-Clear.

The main characters are Michael Davies, Polly Churchill and Merope Ward who are sent back into World War II Britain as Mike Davis, Polly Sebastian and Eileen O'Reilly, respectively.

One of the most interesting things Connie Willis does is depict what life really was like to live through the Blitz, one of the most important and harrowing time periods in history, for any civilization. She does this through the seemingly insignificant details of how The War affected everyday, unknown people every day. Of course, what is also amusing and entertaining for the reader is that she also includes people who are famous now but who were not necessarily so famous then (Agatha Christie comes to mind).

Another important feature of the book to me was its depiction of gender. The fact that two of the main characters are women (really barely more than teenagers) in the mid-1940s decades before the equal rights movement allows Willis to really reveal the contours of sexism behind the veneer of polite British society.

One thing all time-travel stories have in common is that they have rules, generally the rule is that the time travelers can not produce a paradox (like going back in time and killing your own father or grandfather before you were born because then how could you be alive to go back in time in the first place?). Willis plays on this fact, and the idea tat no author would ever kill of one of her three central major characters to raise the level of suspense to heart-pounding levels.

In the end, the books end on something of an emotionally manipulative note, but that decision really ensures that readers of Blackout/All-Clear will not forget the experience any time soon.

Title: Blackout
Author: Connie Willis
Length: 512 pages.
Publisher: Spectra.
Published: February 2, 2010.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.83/4.0).

Title: All Clear
Author: Connie Willis
Length: 656 pages.
Publisher: Spectra.
Published: October 19, 2010

OVERALL GRADE: A- (4.0/4.0).


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Teenager Wins 400m Gold Medal for Grenada

Kirani James, left, beat World Champion LaShawn Merritt at the tape in the 400m
Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Somehow I missed this amazing story from two weeks ago. An 18-year-old boy named Kirani James from my home island countryof Grenada (which has a population of just over 100,000 people, smaller than most cities in the United States) won the 400m gold at the recent World Track and Field Championships by beating an Olympic champion in the event!

But that was not the only amazing story of this 400 meter race. Another Grenadian runner, Rondell Bartholomew, placed sixth and there were twin brothers from Belgium that finished 3rd and 5th!

The Guardian has a great article on the race:

It takes something special to steal the headlines from an Olympic champion who has just returned from a 21-month ban because he accidentally ingested steroids while taking penis-enlargement pills. And Kirani James did just that. He beat LaShawn Merritt, who returned to the track after his suspension in July, in one of the great 400m races in the history of the world championships. James turns 19 on Saturday and his life is never going to be the same again.
If James's name had not been noted before he ran in Daegu, that is hardly surprising. The world 400m champion has run only four professional races in his career, three of them in the past three days. People who like easy labels are already calling him the new Usain Bolt but that does not quite fit. He is neither as flamboyant nor as fast. The first of those differences is not going to change but the second surely will.
The race had the kind of finish that is going to be rerun in the highlights reels for years to come. Merritt came into the home straight with a lead but James ran him down with 50 metres to go. The two were shoulder to shoulder as they came up to the line but James got himself half a stride in front and won by three hundredths of a second, despite Merritt's despairing dip of the head. His winning time of 44.60sec was a personal best, though it is unlikely to be so for long. The Belgian Kevin Borlée took bronze, completing a colourful cast of medal winners. His identical twin, Jonathan, was fifth.
James comes from Grenada and is their first world championship medallist. When he was 16 he was running the 400m in 45.24, a time that would easily have been good enough to earn a place in the final here. 
Now, that is great writing, and a great story. Congratulations, Kirani! (About those Belgian Borlée twins, expect to see them again on this blog in the near future, as either Eye Candy or Celebrity Friday).

White House Statement on DADT Repeal

Office of the Press Secretary
September 20, 2011

Statement by the President on the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Today, the discriminatory law known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is finally and formally repealed.  As of today, patriotic Americans in uniform will no longer have to lie about who they are in order to serve the country they love.  As of today, our armed forces will no longer lose the extraordinary skills and combat experience of so many gay and lesbian service members. And today, as Commander in Chief, I want those who were discharged under this law to know that your country deeply values your service.

I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans.  Today’s achievement is a tribute to all the patriots who fought and marched for change; to Members of Congress, from both parties, who voted for repeal; to our civilian and military leaders who ensured a smooth transition; and to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform who showed that they were ready to move forward together, as one team, to meet the missions we ask of them. 

For more than two centuries, we have worked to extend America’s promise to all our citizens.  Our armed forces have been both a mirror and a catalyst of that progress, and our troops, including gays and lesbians, have given their lives to defend the freedoms and liberties that we cherish as Americans.  Today, every American can be proud that we have taken another great step toward keeping our military the finest in the world and toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals.


SPORN: Rafa Nadal Shows Off His Ass(ets)

Hmmmm, I guess Wednesday really is hump day. As part of his ongoing campaign with Armani Underwear, World #2, 10-time major tennis champion Rafaael Nadal of Spain joins his fellow Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez in showing off their sculpted physiques for profit and admiration.

Hat/tip to TowleRoad.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DADT Ends Today!

The United States Army published the above letter (reproduced above) which announces the welcoming of all soldiers regardless of sexual orientation into the Armed Forces, i.e. the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The letter begins:
Today marks the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and policies reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense  and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
The letter was signed by John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and Raymond F. Chandler III, Sergeant Major of the Army. The end of the policy goes into effect at 12:01am on September 20, 2011. It went into effect on December 21, 1993.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama Diversifies Federal Judiciary

Bernice Donald has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the
first  Black woman on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Now this is a lovely feel-good story! According to the Huffington Post, the nation's first President who is not a White male has become the first President to have a majority of his federal judiciary nominees be non white males, or "non-traditional."
More than 70 percent of Obama's confirmed judicial nominees during his first two years were "non-traditional," or nominees who were not white males. That far exceeds the percentages in the two-term administrations of Bill Clinton (48.1 percent) and George W. Bush (32.9 percent), according to Sheldon Goldman, author of the authoritative book "Picking Federal Judges."


Of the 98 Obama nominees confirmed to date, the administration says 21 percent are African-American, 11 percent are Hispanic, 7 percent are Asian-American and almost half – 47 percent – are women. By comparison, of the 322 judges confirmed during George W. Bush's presidency, 18 percent were minorities and 22 percent were female. Of the 372 judges confirmed during Clinton's terms, 25 percent were minorities and 29 percent were women. In these figures, some judges fit into more than one category.
Last week, the Senate confirmed the first African-American woman to sit on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Bernice Donald. Earlier, she was the first African-American woman elected as a judge in Tennessee, the first appointed as federal bankruptcy judge in the nation and first confirmed as a U.S. district judge in Tennessee.
Obama also has doubled the number of Asian-Americans sitting on the federal bench, including adding Denny Chin to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York as the only active Asian federal appeals court judge. There currently are 14 Asian-American federal judges on the 810-judge roster.


For more than 140 years, there were no females or minorities among the nation's federal judges.
Read that last line again. For the first 140 years (of the 220 years they have been in existence) the federal courts had zero racial or gender diversity. And I'm pretty sure that's just the way Republicans would prefer it to be!

Eye Candy: Eddie Martinez

While searching for more pictures of Eddie Barrena, I was struck by these images of Eddie Martinez. Eddie Martinez is a 23-year-old model who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is another find by that great connoisseur of great-looking guys, David Dust. At Man Central, it says that Martinez is 6'1" and 175 pounds, which is close to perfection for a male model, in my book. Perfecto!

2011 Emmy Awards: The Winners

Tonight was a big day in Hollywood as the Emmy Awards for excellence in television were announced.
I had previously blogged about the nominations and made my choices known.

Here is the full list of winners of the 2011 Emmy Awards:

 Outstanding Drama Series: "Mad Men," AMC.
Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama Series: Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife," CBS.
Outstanding Lead Actor, Drama Series: Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights," DirecTV/NBC.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama Series: Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones," HBO.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama Series: Margo Martindale, "Justified," FX.
Outstanding Writing, Drama Series: Jason Katims, "Friday Night Lights," NBC.
Outstanding Directing, Drama Series: Martin Scorsese, "Boardwalk Empire," HBO.
- Outstanding Comedy Series: "Modern Family," ABC.
Outstanding Actor, Comedy Series: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory," CBS.
Outstanding Actress, Comedy Series: Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly," CBS.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Comedy Series: Julie Bowen, "Modern Family," ABC.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Comedy Series: Ty Burrell, "Modern Family," ABC.
Outstanding Writing, Comedy Series: Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman, "Modern Family," ABC.
Outstanding Directing, Comedy Series: Michael Spiller, "Modern Family," ABC.
Outstanding Miniseries or Movie: "Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)," PBS.
Outstanding Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Kate Winslet, "Mildred Pierce," HBO.
Outstanding Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Barry Pepper, "The Kennedys," ReelzChannel.
Outstanding Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)," PBS.
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Guy Pearce, "Mildred Pierce," HBO.
Outstanding Directing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Brian Percival, "Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)," PBS.
Outstanding Writing, Miniseries, Movie or Dramatic Special: Julian Fellowes, "Downton Abbey (Masterpiece)," PBS.
Outstanding Reality-Competition Program: "The Amazing Race," CBS.
Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central.
Outstanding Directing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series: Don Roy King, "Saturday Night Live," NBC.
Outstanding Writing, Variety, Music or Comedy Series: "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Comedy Central.
The highlights for me are the husband and wife from Modern Family (Ty Burrel and Julie Bowen) winning Best Supporting Actor and Actress. The Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category was all four male leads from Modern Family  and Chris Colfer from Glee! Also, I'm very psyched that Peter Dinklage won for his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, a role that could physically not be played by anyone else and is an amazing piece of writing by George R.R. Martin. I'm also glad that two other shows I just started watching, The Good Wife and the The Big Bang Theory had their lead actors, Jim Parsons (second consecutive year) and Julianna Margulies recognized for their excellent work.

I do not understand the obsession with Mad Men; to me it just looks some kind of Republican fantasy of life in the 1950s before all that damned "progress" of the 1960s (civil  rights for Blacks, equal rights for women and the gay rights movement) happened and "the good old days" were rocking. It's some kind of sick nostalgia fantasy for conservatives. The show has won 4 years in a row, every year it has been in existence. Even worse s The Amazing Race which has now won every Best Reality Series Emmy award ever, even though Survivor was first (and is still better).

Last but not least, congrats to Dame Maggie Smith. You, go, girl!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

British Government Moving Towards Marriage Equality

Lynn Featherstone is "Equalities Minister" in the British Coalition Government
 of the Tories (Conservatives)and LibDems (Liberal Democrats)
An important announcement was made by Minister Lynn Featherstone on behalf of the Government of Britain about its intention to legalize marriage equality before the next election, which by law can not be any later than May 2015.

Relatively recent polls in the United Kingdom indicate as much as two-thirds of the public supports full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

An excerpt from Minister Featherstone's speech is available: 

“While on my travels as a champion for women’s rights, I am and will be a champion for gay rights too. Britain must not get complacent. We are a world leader for gay rights, but there is still more that we must do.
“In March, this Government will begin a formal consultation on how to implement equal civil marriage for same sex couples, and this would allow us to make any legislative changes necessary by the end of this Parliament.
“Civil partnerships were a welcome first step – but this party rejects prejudice and discrimination in all its forms, and I believe that to deny one group of people the same opportunities offered to another is not only discrimination, but is not fair.”

The current law in Great Britain (since 2005) allows same-sex civil partnerships which have all (or most) of the legal incidents of civil marriage but which are barred from occurring on religious property. Heterosexual couples are also barred from entering into civil partnerships. There is a lawsuit attempting to overturn the religious exemption and the heterosexual ban before the European Court of Human Rights.

Trichocereus pachanoi "San Pedro" with 8-inch bloom

It's a little unfair comparing the 8-inch flower on this large-growing Trichocereus pachanoi with blooms on smaller plants. Fair or not, this flower makes one of the most stunning entrances of any cactus flower. Unlike some less spectacular blooms, it lasts just about a day. (I'm grateful for even that time--some excellent cacti open their flowers at night, only to fade before the next day.)

San Pedro is an ethnobotanical with a long history of use in religious ceremonies. And it makes a lovely plant in the landscape or... somewhat improbably... in a container like this 8" clay pot.

Saturday Politics: AD-50 Gets Complicated

Assemblymember Betsy Butler represented
the 53rd Assembly District since 2010
Of course at we have been paying close attention to the impacts of redistricting on California politics in particular. You may recall that last year MadProfessah closely covered the ins and outs of the highly contested race for the 53rd Assembly District seat, where a viable openly gay, Black candidate was running. The seat was run by Equality California board member, lobbyist and straight ally Betsy Butler.

In redistricting the old 53rd was split between 3 new districts, the 62nd, 66th and 50th. Now, Butler has decided to move into the 50th and run for "re-election" from that district, instead of the 62nd where her current residence is. However Assemblymember Steve Bradford, who is African American, intends to run in the 62nd which has a significant Black population. However, the 50th District contains the liberal pockets of Santa Monica and West Hollywood and openly lesbian candidate Torie Osborne has announced her intention to represent this district. Previously, Osborne's ex-girlfriend, Sheila James Kuehl, was the first openly LGBT person ever elected to the California legislature and had been elected to represent West Hollywood in a similar district.

Butler's decision has not endeared her with LGBT activists.
But Osborn is facing powerful opposition from an unexpected source: Assembly Speaker John Pérez. The speaker is backing Assemblywoman Betsy Butler, who plans to move from Marina del Rey into the new 50th district. 
If neither side backs down, the contest could cost millions and drive a wedge through the L.A. Democratic Party. 
"This is gonna be the most exciting Assembly race in Southern California," said party chair Eric Bauman. Osborn's supporters hope it doesn't come to that. They argue that a seat that includes West Hollywood should be represented by a gay person. (Butler is straight.) 
Much of Butler's current district has been drawn into the new 66th district, which is split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Butler apparently feels she stands a better chance in the 50th, which leans heavily Democratic.

Bauman, who is an adviser to Pérez, pushed back against the claim that the 50th ought to be represented by a gay person.

"It's not a gay seat," he said. "There are many gay people in the Legislature now. That's a bogus argument."

Bauman said that Osborn would make an "outstanding" legislator. But, he said, "I think it's logical for any leader of any Legislative house to protect their members first."

There are other Democrats in the race, including Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom. West Hollywood Councilman Jeffrey Prang dropped out earlier this month, because he did not want to challenge Butler.
It should be very interesting!

Friday, September 16, 2011

WATCH: Hot Black Gay Video w/ A Message

Celebrity Friday: Elizabeth Warren

Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren is a favorite of the progressive blogosphere for her championing of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Dodd-Frank Act passed by the Democratic Congress of 2009 and signed into law by President Obama. Now comes word that she has decided to run for the United States Senate from Massachusetts, challenging freshman Republican Scott Brown.

She is today's Celebrity Friday. Hopefully we will be covering more of her as it gets closer to the election in 2012.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FOOD REVIEW: Little Dom's (Griffith Park/Los Feliz in Los Angeles)

Oven Roasted French Toast Soufflé with
 Crème Fraiche Whipped Cream & Maple Syrup, $8
Grilled Housemade Italian Sausage, $5
Egg whites with grilled chicken (special order)
Housemade Italian Sausage, Roasted Peppers and Fontina Cheese Frittata, $8
Litlle Dom's is a popular hang out in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles, just down the hill from Griffith Park. A friend of mine suggested it for a late breakfast meeting one weekday morning and I agreed.

On Yelp there was much discussion about Lil' Dom's French Toast Soufflé, so I figured that I had to try that. Ultimately, though, the soufflé was a bit disappointing because it is almost too light and airy. I generally like my french toast to be substantial and maybe even a little crinkly around the edges. Since the french toast soufflé does't actually use any "toast" it's really something completely different.

The frittata was a bit more successful. It was also light and airy like the soufflé but in an omelet this is an expected and more valued feature. The inclusion of the sausage and fontina cheese make it a nice hearty entree.

Overall, the food is good but I feel like  at Little Dom's it's almost over-thought. I only had breakfast there, which I think should just be simple. I would definitely visit there again for lunch or dinner to get a better sense of the establishment, but for breakfast I think I would rather go to The Diner (in Alhambra) or Yahaira's Cafe (in Pasadena).

Name: Litle Dom's.
Location: 2128 Hillhurst Avenue Los Angeles, California 90027.
Contact: 323-661-0055.
Visit: May 11, 2011.

FOOD: A-. 

OVERALL: A- (3.583/4.0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Text of Anti-Gay North Carolina Ballot Measure

Below is the text of a constitutional amendment passed by the North Carolina legislature this week which purports to "protect marriage" by declaring that only  "marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized" in the State of North Carolina. The intent is similar to the odious (and unconstitutional) Proposition 8 in California and the still-to-be-voted on Minnesota amendment but the legislative language "domestic legal union" is novel. It will definitely ban any state recognition of marriage between same-sex couples and civil unions but it's not clear if it would ban the enactment of a limited statewide domestic partnership statute.NC Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

US OPEN 2011: Djokovic Beats Nadal For 4th Major

Novak Djokovic cemented his status as the world's best tennis player this year by defeating 2010 U.S. Open champion and World #2 Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-2 6-4 6-7(3) 6-1 in four hours, ten minutes to win the 2011 U.S. Open men's singles title. It was the Serbian World #1's astonishing 64th win in 66 tour matches. It was Djokovic's 6th consecutive defeat of Nadal in a final this year, his 10th title of the year and 3rd major, 4th grand slam title of the year. This is a singular performance in tennis history, clearly surpassing John McEnroe's 1984 record of 82-3 where he won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as losing the French Open final to Ivan Lendl and did not play the Australian Open. Djokovic has managed to compile an almost unbeaten record while playing some of the greatest players of all time in 16-time major champion Roger Federer and 10-time Rafael Nadal (and beating them repeatedly). Djokovic becomes the second player, after Juan Martin del Potro to defeat Federer and Nadal on the way to a major title.

Final Review
As predicted, Djokovic's game matched up well against Nadal's, unfazed by the Spaniard's main weapon, his lefty forehand. However, to me the surprise was that Djokovic did not play his best tennis for most of the match. Nadal really played better during the first two sets, but somehow managed to lose them. For example, Nadal broke Djokovic in the first service game of both of the first two sets, taking a 2-0 lead in each, but ultimately losing them. In the first set, Djokovic responded to the 0-2 deficit by winning 6 games in a row by extending the rallies and dealing better with the windy conditions and rowdy crowds. The Serb was not using his fearsome backhand or powerful forehand to go for winners, instead playing within the lines. What Djokovic did do consistently better than Nadal for the entire match was return serve brilliantly. In the third set, Djokovic started going for more winners, hitting the ball harder and the two traded breaks of serve until Djokovic attempted to serve for the championship up 6-5 and was broken by Nadal to force a tiebreak after some incredibly long rallies and brilliant points which energized the crowd and carried the Spaniard to an easy 7-3 win in the tiebreak.

After holding serve in the first game of the 4th set, Djokovic received treatment on his lower back, taking a medical time out. One would have thought this admission of physical frailty would energize Nadal but instead it seemed to make him uncertain about what approach to take. He held his first service game of the set but then failed to win another game after that, losing the final set 6-1 and seeming to capitulate mentally to the inevitable defeat during the championship game when Djokovic served for the title.

There's no question that Djokovic is as far into Nadal's head as Nadal was in Federer's head at one time. Nadal beat Federer five times in a row (twice) but now Nadal has lost to Djokovic six consecutive times, in important finals (four Masters Series finals and 2 Grand Slam finals). This loss will be difficult for Nadal to take because even though Djokovic cracked first physically, Nadal cracked mentally (and was on the edge of cracking physically).

Next year should be fun!


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