Thursday, December 29, 2005

More Failures For Heterosexist Supremacists

As I reported last week, one group of heterosexist supremacists failed to gather enough signatures to put an initiative on the June 2006 primary ballot. In today's Los Angeles Times, the other shoe drops: Andrew Pugno,'s general counsel is quoted saying "I think it is very unlikely there will be any [anti-gay] measure on the ballot this coming year." Randy Thomasson, of, announced that "it would not circulate petitions until it raises enough money to guarantee a successful drive by paid signature gatherers." He said that his group may not have a ballot measure until 2008. Happily, the good guys (Equality Califiornia) is not taking them at their word and is rapidly attempting to set up a field operation in every county in the state. "We are moving full steam ahead preparing for what we think will be a major battle in November," said executive director Geoffrey Kors. I agree with Equality California, that we should be prepared. It only takes one wingnut millionaire with more money than sense to donate $1-2 million dollars to pay the signature gatherers to initiate a $10-20 million ballot battle in November 2006. Happily, we do know that at least there will not be an anti-gay proposition on the June 2006 primary ballot. Instead, we just have to decide who do we want to be the next Governor of California: State Treasurer Phil Angelides or State Comptroller Steve Westly (both of whom have said they would have signed the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Act of 2005 which Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed in September 2005).

Another tidbit from today's Times article was the estimate of 2007 for a final ruling from the California Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the current heterosexuals-only marriage law. I also must applaud the Times for pointing out that the ballot measures proposed by the heterosexist supremacists Thomasson and Pugno and their ilk would not only amend the state constitution to further ban gay marriage, but also would have voided statewide comprehensive domestic partnership benefits and responsibilities which just went into effect on January 1, 2005.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Panoply of Films, A Myriad of Reviews

So, it's the end of the year so I have been seeing an average of about one movie a day in "Ron and Dean's Moviegoing Orgy." So far, we have seen (finally!):

Syriana. A tangled mess of interconnected plots which are interesting but also bewildering and ultimately uninvolving.
Good Night, and Good Luck. Realistic, almost journalistic portrayal of McCarthy era paranoia and the fourth estate's response.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. A slightly too-faithful adaptation of the book, with a nice performance by Tilda Swinton as The Witch.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Very skillfully executed installment in the Harry Potter franchise, with clever direction to elicit strong performances from the rapidly maturing returning teenaged castmembers.
A History of Violence. Probably David Cronenberg's best film, though what exactly that means from the man who made "Dead Ringers," "Crash," and "Naked Lunch" is not quite clear. The script is very taut and the performances by Viggo Mortensen and Ashton Holmes are riveting.
Walk The Line. Simply amazing performances by Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix who inhabit their roles while depicting the amazing love story of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash with stunning accuracy and heartbreaking emotion.
The Squid and the Whale. A very disturbing meditation/explication of parental psychological violence and influence upon their children. The parents are exquisitely depicted by Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels, but I found the structure of the film itself problematic as the narcissistic, obnoxious father gets to replicate his fictional dominance upon the audience due to the director's choice of focussing the film around this character's behavior without providing the other characters with opportunities for countervailing input.

On the list to be seen before Oscar nominations are announced on January 31: King Kong, Brokeback Mountain, Match Point (maybe), Pride and Prejudice and Memoirs of a Geisha.

Dumb Stuff Said By Conservatives in 2005

Wow. Steve Gilliard of the News Blog, a DailyKos alum, has highlighted Media Matters' list of "the most outrageous statements of 2005." Of course, Bill Bennett's now-infamous faux pas "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down" from September 28, 2005 is on the list, and at least 20 others, just as horrifying, from Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Pat Robertson, Tucker Carlson and their ilk.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Congress Goes Too Far Right On Immgration

Right before leaving for the year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed an immigration bill. The bill was described by Mexican President Vicente Fox as "shameful" in the New York Times. It's main sponsor was the odious James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin). It is unlikely that such a xenophobic bill will have much traction in the Senate so that is doubtful that any of the very many onerous provisions will ultimately become law.

Here is a brief list of some of the 169 page bill's contents :
  1. Requires employers to use within six years a database to verify Social Security numbers of employees or face civil or criminal penalties for hiring illegal workers.
  2. Requires detention for all non-Mexican illegal immigrants arrested at ports of entry or at land and sea borders by Oct. 1, 2006.
  3. Establishes mandatory sentences for smuggling illegal immigrants and for re-entering the country illegally after deportation.
  4. Makes illegal presence in the country a crime.
  5. Makes a drunken driving conviction a deportable offense.
  6. Requires building five two-layer fences in parts of California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona on the U.S.-Mexican border. Places priority on fence at Laredo, Texas.
  7. Requires the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to develop a joint plan on increased use of military surveillance equipment on the border.
  8. Requires Border Patrol uniforms to be made in the United States, not Mexico.
  9. Prohibits the attorney general from providing grant money to any federal, state or local government agency or entity that fails to provide the Department of Homeland Security with information on a person's citizenship or immigration status.
  10. Eliminates the visa lottery program.
  11. Makes wording of oath of citizenship recited in naturalization ceremonies law to prevent changes without congressional action.

The bill passed the House 239-182. Today's Los Angeles Times has an article on Rep. Tom Tancredo, one of the main proponents of the recently passed bill, as well as a piece analyzing family-based immigration in the United States. I suspect as 2006's political season heats up immigration will become an even more salient issue. I find it hard to believe that a majority of Californians will be following the House of Representatives' lead on this matter.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Mariah Ties Elvis For Most #1 Singles Behind The Beatles

Mariah Carey scored her 17th #1 single with "Don't Forget About Us," tying her with Elvis Preseley, second only to the Beatles' twenty #1 singles. Fellow divas Madonna and Whitney Houston both have eleven #1 singles. Some purists insist that Elvis has 18 #1 singles by counting the doubles-sided single "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" as two hits instead of one.
It took Mariah 15 years to have 17 #1 singles, starting with 1990's "Vision of Love." Interestingly, Mariah may have another significant chart success in 2005: the #1 best-selling album of the year with The Emancipation of Mimi. Currently, she is in a very close race with 50 Cents' The Massacre(4.6 million for Mimi compared to 4.8 million for The Massacre) but since Mimi just scored 8 Grammy nominations and is still in the Top 10 of the Pop Albums chart, it is likely that the Voice will win this battle of the Divas!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Meme of Four

There's a "meme of four" going around the blogosphere. Bloggers are basically listing four answers to particular questions. From firedoglake:

Four jobs you've had in your life: department chairman, college professor, research assistant, international chess player.

Four movies you could watch over and over again: Dangerous Liaisons, The Princess Bride, Alien, The Lion in Winter.

Four places you've lived: Troy, New York; Bridgetown, Barbados; Amherst, Massachusetts; Los Angeles, California.

Four TV shows you love to watch: Alias, The Simpsons, Commander in Chief, The Daily Show

Four websites you visit daily:,,,,, etc etc

Four of your favorite foods: curried chicken with peas and rice; Dean's brownies; homemade mac 'n' cheese; Thai salmon curry;

Four places you'd rather be: Buenos Aires, Argentina; Delhi, India; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; St. George's, Grenada;

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Improbably Handsome Terrorists on TV

Showtime's Sleeper Cell is an interesting, well-done 10-hour miniseries about a Muslim terrorist cell operating in Los Angeles. The season finale aired last Sunday, and was a somewhat disappointing end to a usually well-written, tautly acted television show. The main plot follows an undercover FBI agent who is a green-eyed, African American Muslim played by the very handsome Michael Ealy. All of the members of the sleeper cell are improbably attractive: the beefy, blond, blue-eyed, all-American Tommy (Blake Shields), the sexy, shaved head, Gallic Christian (Alex Nesic), the shy, geeky, good-looking Ilija (Henri Lubatti) and the sinister, darkly handsome Faris (Oded Fehr). It's not clear exactly what the intentions of the creators of the series were when they cast such a pulchritudinous group of men to portray people who are systematically, purposefully planning to kill as many Americans as possible. Is it because they don't think the writing is compelling enough that they have to entice viewers with beautiful evil also? I may be too harsh, I actually like the show and think that the producers are doing a good job to show the minutiae and logistics of how a terrorist sleeper cell would actually operate in the United States. That being said, this is a television dramatic series after all, so verisimilitude is not the primary objective. And I don't think that it should be.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Muted Reaction to Gay Organ Donor Ban?

Okay, now this is getting ridiculous. The "homosexuality as pestilence" trope is becoming more and more ingrained in certain quarters. Kudos to QueerDay for bringing this story to my attention. Corrente and Pam Spaulding has also covered it, but I don't quite understand why this story has not reached that much "play" in the blogosphere. The facts of the situation are uncontested. An openly gay man named Albert Soto died in Tucson, AZ of a massive stroke on November 26. He was a generous person, and an organ donor. But his organs were refused for donation.

One response to the Soto story has been from the Donor Network of Arizona:
"The criteria for tissue and eye donation
is a federal regulation enforced by the
Food and Drug Administration. Federal
regulations preclude recovery of tissue
from potential donors who may have
engaged in male-to-male sexual contact
within the preceding five years, as well
as from donors with other medical risk

Please note this is not about HIV or AIDS. Soto was HIV negative. This about the fact that the Federal government is equating homosexual sex (male-to-male sexual contact, in their parlance) with infection. I believe this is a reflection of institutional and medical homophobia. And, as a friend of mine wrote earlier this week, homophobia can have deadly consequences.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Heterosexual Supremacists Miss Signature Deadline

The heterosexual supremacists who are attempting to re-write California's constitution to prohibit recognition of domestic partners by any subdivision of state government and restrict marriage to be a heterosexual entitlement have until December 22 to file their signatures with the Secretary of State in order to attempt to qualify for the June 2006 primary ballot.

They have apparently missed their deadline, according to Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

VA: Warner Tries To Sneak LGB Equality Thru

As one of his last acts as Governor of Virginia, Mark Warner (D) has amended an executive order to add sexual orientation as a protected category which is protected from discrimination in hiring by the state. His successor, Tim Kaine (D) has agreed to maintain the equal rights protections for LGB folk in his administration. Republican conservatives are complaining about both the process and principle which led to Warner's action.

Of course I disagree with the Republicans on principle, but I also disagree that LGB democrats should be praising Warner for enacting protections for LGB employees in state government at the end of his gubernatorial term instead of at the beginning. To me, the ambitious Southern governor is trying to have his cake and eat it, too. He can appear supportive to supporters of LGB rights, but he risks no political capital to do so. Meanwhile, there's been a huge amount of virulently anti-gay legislative activity in the last four years--what has the Governor been doing to reduce and tamp down this activity?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush Doesn't Care About Civil Liberties, Either!

After a jaw-dropping scoop by the New York Times on Friday that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to electronically monitor the telephone calls and emails of certain American citizens and permanent residents, the blogosphere and mainstream media have been very active! (I have been locked in my bedroom grading final exams and computing semester grades--all done now!) The President has admitted that this domestic spying program has been used 30 times, says that his lawyers tell him that he can legally do this (which many other lawyers and politicians spiritedly dispute) and says that he will continue to use the program.

The immediate fallout of the news of warrantless searches of Americans being conducted in apparent violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was the United States Senate's inability to end a filibuster against the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, the most controversial provisions of which expire on December 31, 2005. In addition, heads of the Judiciary Committee in the House and in the Senate promised hearings into the constitutionality of the President's domestic spying program to be held early in 2006.

In his end-of-year press conference today, President Bush implicitly referenced Kanye West's comment that "George Bush doesn't care about Black people" comment from earlier this year in response to a reporter's question about Hurricane Katrina and race relations in general. Bush's answer to that question was disappointing, but it brought up the thought in my mind that Geoerge Bush doesn't care about civil liberties, either!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Prince of Darkness Hired by Fox News Channel

After 25 years at CNN, columnist and tv commentator Robert Novak is leaving the network for Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel. Widely derided among political junkies and others as "Novakula" or "the Prince of Darkness," Novak had not appeared on CNN since he cursed James Carville live on air during the August 4th taping of an "Inside Politics" segment. CNN promptly suspended Novak. He had recently received national attention as the columnist who pyblished the original story revealing that Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife (Valerie Plame) was a covert CIA agent, leading to the now-infamous PlameGate controversy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Top 10 Online Dictionary Searches for 2005

Merriam Webster has released the annual list of the Top 10 words searched for at its website in 2005. The List of Top 10 searched words are
  1. Integrity
  2. Refugee
  3. Contempt
  4. Filibuster
  5. Insipid
  6. Tsunami
  7. Pandemic
  8. Conclave
  9. Levee
  10. Inept

Here's a fun contest! Can you use all ten words in a short paragraph (1-3 sentences) to describe the Bush administration in 2005??

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

MadProfessah Endorses Pam's House Blend

Yes, he's cute. (For a white boi.) Yes, he's going to be appearing on the cover of Instinct Magazine soon. But, is Brat Boy School the Best LGBT Blog in 2005? Methinks not. The Mad Professah endorses Pam's House Blend, who has been on our blogroll since very early in our inception, and who is a refreshingly gay (well, lesbian, anyway) and progressive voice in the blogosphere. Go, Pam!

Noah's Arc Season Finale

Tonight is the season finale of Patrik-Ian Polk's Noah's Arc on LOGO. The show has improved as the season has progressed so there are many other people in addition to myself looking forward to the inevitable cliffhangers in tonight's episode.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

D.C.:Comprehensive Domestic Partner Bill Proceeds

The Washington, D.C. city council has given a comprehensive domestic partnership bill its first reading. Unfortunately, D.C. is not a state, but a colony of the U.S. Congress. So, even if the bill does pass its second reading on December 20th and is signed into law by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, the U.S. Congress can prevent the legislation from taking effect by passing a statute with a simple majority in both houses.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Martina Returning to Women's Tennis in 2006

No, not that Martina! Former #1 Martina Hingis has announced that she will be returning to the WTA Tour in 2006, most likely in a tournament in Australia in January. Hopefully, this comeback will succeed better than her previous comeback from last February, when she lost to unheralded Marlene Weingartner 1-6, 6-2, 6-2. It will be interesting to see if Hingis can really have an impact on the 2006 WTA Tour, with the Williams Sisters in and out of form, Henin-Hardenne weakened, Seles and Capriati basically retired, and Davenport not committing to a schedule past March. Somehow, Although she has 40 WTA Tour titles and 5 Grand Slam titles and came within one match of winning the calendar Grand Slam in 1997 (losing the French Open Final to Iva Majoli), it's a different game now in 2006 and I doubt she can repeat a fraction of her previous success.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NY: Appeals Court Overturns Marriage Ruling

Hmmm, the favorable gay marriage ruling from a New York Superior Court judge from last February has been reversed by a New York Appellate Court 4-1. and both have stories which include commitments from the plaintiffs to appeal to the highest court in New York, the 7-member State Court of Appeals. As I have mentioned before, we're still waiting for a final ruling from Washington State, and California's case has yet to get to the appellate level.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Arnold Appoints Over-40, "Single White Female" to Powerful Position (Again)

In the midst of the Roberts, Miers and Alito nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, I have been repeatedly commenting about the vacancy on the California Supreme Court and Governor Schwarzenegger's hesitancy in filling the seat vacated by Janice Rogers Brown on her elevation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. I said then that he would pick either Vance Raye or Carol Corrigan. I was right. Yesterday, Arnold announced he was naming Carol Corrigan to the California Supreme Court. Is it just me, or does anyone else notice a pattern here?

Last week, Arnold shocked the establishment by naming Gray Davis' Chief of Staff to be his Chief of Staff. It's not clear what Republicans found more offensive, that Susan Kennedy worked for Gray Davis, that she is openly lesbian, or that she used to have executive positions in statewide Democratic and pro-choice organizations. Susan Kennedy is white, 45, "single," and lives with a female partner in Marin County.

Carol Corrigan, as the Los Angeles Times, so coyly informs us in a sentence fragment at the end of a biographical sidebar about the soon-to-be Justice of the California Supreme Court, "[i]s unmarried and shares a house in Oakland with a female friend." To summarize, Carol Corrigan is white, 57, "single" and lives with another female in Alameda County.

So, let me get this straight (sic). For the second time in two weeks, Arnold has appointed an over-40,"single" white female who shares a residence with another woman in a Northern California county to an incredibly powerful position. Well, I guess that's one way to attempt to resolve one's "mommy issues!"

Objectifying Male Flesh: Rating Flogs

Thanks to Rod 2.0 I have discovered Made in Brazil. Anyway, MIB is having a contest for the best "photo blog" (or flog) devoted to a hunky young man. After extensive research, I voted for Marsili. Go to the website and let me know if you agree!

Friday, December 09, 2005

BULGARIA: Gay Sex Soccer Scandal

In what reads like the "script" for a gay porn movie, four amateur football players from Varna , Bulgaria have been fired for engaging in a "sex foursome in the changing room." The full news items reads as:

A gay scandal involving four
players has hit an amateur football club
from Varna, Bulgaria.

The four were expelled from the MAX
club after being caught in a sex foursome
in the changing room, a newspaper report
said Friday.

Coach Georgi Dimov has confirmed the
disclosure, saying that the homosexual
players were kicked out for damaging the
club's reputation, 7 Dni Sport says.

MAX is currently struggling to enter
professional football, and negotiating
with potential sponsors, the report

Truth is stranger than fiction?

Mariah Vindicated By Music Establishment

Mariah Carey has a damn good publicist! On the day the Grammy nominations are announced she has a Column One story on the front page of the Los Angeles Times titled "Back Atop The Charts, Her Way." The story continues with "Carey Rebounds After a Hard Fall" and "Pop Star Shakes Off Bad Run."

Later in the day, Mariah was vindicated with the announcemen of her Eight Grammy Nominations, tied for first with Kanye West and John Legend. Significantly, Mariah was the only who had three nominations in the big four categories (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist). Mariah's nominations are:
  1. Album of the Year, The Emancipation of Mimi
  2. Record of the Year, "We Belong Together"
  3. Song of the Year, "We Belong Together"
  4. Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, "It's Like That"
  5. Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, "We Belong Together"
  6. Best Tradional R&B Vocal Performance, "Mine Again"
  7. Best R&B Song, "We Belong Together"
  8. Best Contemporary R&B Album, The Emancipation of Mimi

Oddly, Mariah currently only has 2 Grammy Awards, (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Vision of Love" and Best New Artist from 1991). I think she has a good chance of winning at least one of the major awards. "We Belong Together" was the most played song of the year on radio. I'll definitely be tuned into the Grammy Awards on February 8, 2006.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

WA: Mayor West Recalled

Unsurprisingly, Mayor Jim West was removed from office by the voters of Spokane, Washington yesterday. The vote was overwhelming, 65% in favor of the Mayor's recall, and only 35% opposed. This should be the end of the career of the publicly homophobic, privately homosexual conservative Republican politician. Good riddance!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Devin Brown's Killer Will Not Face County Prosecution has the details of Mayor Villaraigosa's statement in response to Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley's decision to not charge LAPD officer Steve Garcia in the shooting of 13-year-old Devin Brown. He does a good job of mentioning the policy changes that LAPD has begun to institute as a result of this case while still expressing outrage at the event itself. MadProfessah has been covering this case closely since it happened in February. It's my understanding there is a civil suit pending and that there is still a question about whether the LAPD will fire Garcia. In addition, the Los Angeles Police Commission has yet to rule on the case.
Interestingly, The West Wing fictionalized a version of the Devin Brown affair to illustrate racial fissures in the campaign of Matt Santos for President. More comment about that later...

Elton John Getting Married in the UK

Sir Elton John has set a date for his registered partnership with his partner of 12 years, David Furnish: December 21, 2005. Amusingly, they are getting hitched in the same place that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles were finally married over the summer, in Windsor, Scotland. It's interesting to see that this story is being covered pretty well by the mainstream media, not just the gay press. The British registered partnership law went into effect today, Monday December 5th.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lesbian Susan Kennedy Named To Governator's COS

New boss? Same as the old boss! Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday November 30 that openly gay democrat Susan Kennedy, Chief of Staff to former Governor Gray Davis, would become his new Chief of Staff. Ms. Kennedy, who previously was the highest ranked openly gay person serving in the California government as head of the California Public Utilities Commission, had a commitment ceremony with her partner, Vicki Marti, who is a psychotheapist, according to the Los Angeles Times. Needless to say, certain factions in the California Republican party are not happy: "She embodies everything I have spent my life opposing. It obviously raises more problems and concerns about where he is headed next year," said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly. "There is a list of things now where it appears we would have been better off if Gray Davis were governor."
Let that last line sink in for a moment, folks. "[W]e would have been better off if Gray Davis were governor." Think Mr. Spence will be invited to smoke any cigars with Arnold (or Susan Kennedy, for that matter!) any time soon? Sheeeesh.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

SOUTH AFRICA: legalizes same-sex marriage!

And then there were 5... (countries which allow same sex couples the full rights and responsibilities of marriage identical to opposite sex couples: The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada and now South Africa

The country's highest court ruled that these restrictions were unconstitutional. South Africa has an explicit mention of sexual orientation in its constitution as a non-discrimination category.

World AIDS Day: 40.3 million and counting...

UNAIDS, the United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS, has produced its latest predictions on the number of people who have HIV/AIDS in 2005: 40.3 million people. On its website, the BBC has this very disturbing map of the global distribution of HIV/AIDS, with color coded HIV prevalence rates.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Black Tennis Report for November

Venus and Serena claim that they are "rarin' to go in 2006." The Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried a story which had quotes from the Williams sisters where they express their desire to do well in 2006 on the Tour. Serena Williams has a guest spot on a "very special" sweeps month episode of "E.R." airing on Thursday November 17. Venus is quoted as saying that her Wimbledon victory this year was not the highlight of her year, a 80's theme prom she attended earlier in the year.

They kicked off their second annual tennis exhibition tour in Seattle this year. Other cities they will visit are Cleveland, OH (December 1) and Washington, D.C. (December 8).

US Death Penalty Total Stuck at 999 since 1976

Governor Mark Warner (D) of Virginia has decided to commute the death sentence of Robin Lovitt, who was scheduled to be the 1000th person to be executed by the Government since the Supreme Court reinstated the practice in the 1976 Gregg v. Georgia case. As an opponent to the death penalty, I hope that the Governor of California follows the lead of the Governor of Virginia and commutes Stanley "Tookie" Williams' death sentence also.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MARYLAND: Race To Succeed Sarbanes Tightens

Michael SteeleKweisi Mfume
The race to replace Democratic U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland is starting to get very interesting. It is very possible this race will involve two African American challengers: Republican Lieutentant Governor Michael Steele and former Democratic U.S. Representative Kweisi Mfume. If so, this would bring the grand total of Black United States Senators to two in January 2007. The latest polling results from Rasmussen show that the two most prominent Democratic candidates Mfume and Cardin have narrowed the gap with Steele, with Cardin leading 49-41 and Mfume basically in a dead heat 44-45.

Steele's main claim to fame in the national media is his connection to the spurious story that he was pelted with oreo cookies during a 2002 debate between his running mate (and soon to be ex-Governor) Bob Ehrlich and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend held at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.

Mfume has some aspects of his personal life that some people in Maryland may not approve of (he has fathered 5 children out of wedlock with 5 different women). It's not clear if this is a fatal flaw to his candidacy and Cardin, to his credit has not been using this information against Mfume, to my knowledge.

Monday, November 28, 2005

ALIAS Cancelled :(

ABC announced the day before Thanksgiving that "The countdown to the Series Finale of Alias has begun!" The ratings for the show had been sinking since the network moved the show away from following creator J.J. Abrams' other show Lost on Wednesday nights. In addition, after star Jennifer Garner got pregnant and then married Ben Affleck the show had her alter ego, Sydney Bristow, also get pregnant (and apparentky killed off the father Michael Vaughn in the 5th season premiere!) which completely changed the atmospherics of the show.
I'm still in a state of mourning (and anger at Adelphia!) because some how my cable digital video recorder inexplicably refused to record Episode 6 of Season 5 on Thursday November 17. Does Tivo ever do that? I think I may be switching to Tivo by the end of the year if it happens again...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Alito and Death (and Race)

Professor Goodwin Liu of UC Berkeley Law School has a devastating analysis of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito capital punishment jurisprudence in today's Los Angeles Times entitled "Life and Death and Samuel Alito." Liu points out that while most of the media attention has been paid to Alito's views on abortion, death penalty cases make up a much more significant portion of the Supreme Court docket each year, and that from 2000 to 2005 the Court decided only three cases on abortion (the most notable being Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000, voiding Nebraska's "partial birth" abortion ban). In the same period the Court decided more than three dozen cases involving the death penalty. As Professor Liu puts it more eloquently than I could paraphrase: "In this area, the Supreme Court often serves not only in its typical role of deciding unsettled questions of broadly applicable law but also as a court of last resort to correct errors and prevent injustice in individual cases. [And c]apital cases are often fraught with error."

Samuel Alito has been on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals for 15 years (since age 40!) and has participated in 10 death penalty cases. Half of these were unanimous decisions from randomly selected 3-judge panels that he participated in. However, in each of the remaining five cases Alito voted against the inmate (and thus for their death) and issued a separate opinion which often revealed a strong difference of opinion between him and his judicial colleagues and a concrete (some might say "cramped") philosophy in capital punishment cases.

Although Professor Liu details the flaws in Alito's opinions in the other four cases, it is the details of the 2001 Riley v. Taylor case which particularly caught my attention.

In 2001, Alito sided with the state against a black man, James Riley, convicted of capital murder by an all-white jury in Kent County, Del., whose population is 20% black. Before trial, the prosecutor had struck all three prospective black jurors from the jury pool. Riley challenged this action as racially discriminatory. His evidence included the fact that the prosecution had struck every prospective black juror in the three other capital murder trials in Kent County within the prior year.

Alito refused to infer racial discrimination from this pattern, offering the following analogy: "Although only about 10% of the population is left-handed, left-handers have won five of the last six presidential elections…. But does it follow that the voters cast their ballots based on whether a candidate was right- or left-handed?" A majority of the full court disagreed with Alito, criticizing his logic for "minimiz[ing] the history of discrimination against prospective black jurors and black defendants."

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court granted relief to another black man convicted and sentenced to death by a jury drawn from a panel where the state had struck 10 of 11 qualified black jurors. In an opinion joined by Justice O'Connor, the court said — contrary to Alito's reasoning in the Riley case — that the exclusion of such a large percentage of black jurors cannot be viewed as "happenstance."

Yes, ladies and gentleman. Alito analogized race to handedness, and revealed a shocking lack of understanding of statistics as well as a stunning lack of compassion for the real-world implications and impact of his judicial decisions. Kudos to the Los Angeles Times for printing Professor Liu's editorial. Go read the whole thing!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Executed Teenager Probably Innocent Of The Crime

TalkLeft and ProfsBlawg are buzzing about the Houston Chronicle story that reveals that it is very likely that in 1993 Texas executed an innocent death row inmate named Ruben Cantu who was 17 years old when he allegedly committed the capital offense. As a fellow strong opponent of the death penalty myself, news of this story made me feel slightly ill, but also hopeful. As we approach the 1000th person executed since capital punishment was reinstated im 1997, a thought uppermost ni my mind is "Is this enough to stop the death penalty in this country?"

Right now in California we have the case of Stan "Tookie" Williams, who has a date of December 13th with the San Quentin Death Chamber. Despite having founded the Crips street gang decades ago, in prison Tookie has apparently done yeoman's work to reduce gang violence, been the subject of his own television movie starring Jamie Foxx and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. What Will Ahnuld Do?

Friday, November 25, 2005

ARIZONA: Openly Gay Republican Congressman Retiring

U.S. Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), 63, the only openly gay Republican member of Congress has announced that he will not seek re-election to serve the 8th Congressional District of Arizona, which covers much of the city of Tucson. The news was met with some glee by Democrats, who see the seat as a possible pick up in next year's congressional elections. Kolbe was first elected to the district 1984 and came out publicly as a gay man in 1996 shortly before The Advocate was going to publish a cover story on his vote in favor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. He won re-election in 2004 with 60% of the vote but faced a conservative Republican primary challenger in both the 2004 and upcoming 2006 races. The only openly gay members of Congress are now Barney Frank (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hung: A Meditation About (Black) Male Objects

Big shout out to Rod 2.0 for pointing me to this story about Enrique Iglesias. The "Latin heartthrob" has plans to launch his own brand of small-size condoms. Of course, Rod rightfully linked to blog posts discussing penis size which led me to the new book "Hung: A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America" by the writer Scott Poulson-Bryant. The discussion about the book at both Rod's blog and Keith Boykin's website has led me to want to contribute to the discussion about the mystique of the "big black dick."
There are so many areas in which aspects of the "BBD" theory of black male sexuality manifest themselves that it is hard to know where to begin. Of course the most prominent of these concepts is the implied hypersexuality of Black males. Attached to hypersexuality is both hypermasculinity and its attendant qualities of violence, irrationality and irresponsibility. All of these concepts combine and reinforce each other in the mental images and cultural meanings which emanate from most stereotypes of black men. These stereotypes are familiar to all of us and are amplified and thereby strengthened by various media outlets.
What's interesting is that some black men play upon the stereotype to obtain respect, fear, or envy (to name just a few of the possible emotions generated by the deployment of the BBD mystique). I'm not saying that all these black men are going around proclaiming they have bigger dicks than everyone else (although some do!); the way the BBD stereotype functions in society is much subtler. Some black men feel liberated by the implications and assumptions automatically inscribed on them by dint of their skin color, while other are confined and discomfited by the narrow expectations of others.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WASHINGTON: Gay Sex Mayor About To Be Recalled

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has polling data on the near certainty of the recall of Mayor Jim West of Spokane, WA. West is the politician who has refused to resign after it was discovered that he was improperly using his official computer and office internet connection to have anonymous gay sexual hookups with men much younger than himself.

Keith Boykin Highlights Other Carriker-like Cases

Great minds think alike! Just a few days after my post last week about the case of the Georgia man jailed for unprotected sex, premiere gay black blogger and author Keith Boykin highlights the issue with a similar case involving a black Canadian football player named Trevis Smith and also summarizes other cases involving primarily Black men. He agrees with me that criminalization of sexual behavior is not the way to go, but repeats an old motto of the HIV prevention community: "It takes two people to spread HIV but only one to stop it." In other words, it just takes one person in a sexual situation to be adamant about using protection and if there was one person like this in every sexual pair then this would lead to decreased HIV transmission rates and increased HIV prevention.

Monday, November 21, 2005

ILLINOIS: Caves In To CDC On HIV Names Reporting

On October 19, the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Eric Whitaker, announced that Illinois will abandon its long standing practice of tracking cases of HIV by alphanumeric code beginning January 1, 2006. Illinois has succumbed to pressure from the Bush Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have refused to accept code-based HIV surveillance data and threatened reductions in federal funding to states using unacceptable data. AIDS Foundation of Chicago has set up a helpful frequently asked questions website to attempt to explain their support for this radical public policy change.

I have been involved in the fight to prevent such a policy being enacted in California. The reasons for this are manifold. First, I believe the policy will negatively impact HIV prevention efforts. As I have posted recently, I think one primary goal of HIV prevention should be to increase the number of people who get tested regularly. Any misguided policy which tends to discourage or punish people for knowing their HIV status should be avoided. Switching to reporting cases of HIV infection by name will lead to exactly the groups (those that are most suspicious and fearful of the government) that we want to see get tested delaying or declining to do so.

Second, the policy change raises obvious privacy concerns. The government wants to maintain a list of all HIV-positive people in the state, at the behest of the federal government? If we have not learned anything from the massive breaches of credit card data security in the last year and the incredible rise in the frequency of identity theft, it is that once information is collected and digitized, it is vulnerable to unauthorized access and unpredictable usage.

Third, the policy change is unnecessary right now. The policy change to enact names-based HIV reporting is in response to a push from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who claim that HIV surveillance data is more accurate than code-based data and that in the newly reauthorized Ryan White CARE Act states with inaccurate data will be negatively impacted financially through reduced federal disbursements. But the Ryan White CARE Act won't be reauthorized until Spring 2006, at the earliest. The fact that the policy change is not called for legislatively causes advocate for people with AIDS to question the motive for making this policy change. In the last twenty years California has faced three discriminatory ballot measures which would have attempted to quarantine, incarcerate or violate people with AIDS. The fact is that the people who sponsored these kinds of initiatives in the past have always wanted to start by collecting the names of people with AIDS.
So it is not surprising that advocates for people with AIDS are suspicious of the motives behind the recent calls for Names-based HIV surveillance.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Men's Tennis Season Ends With a Bang

Roger Federer of Switzerland, the World's #1 Player, playing against his arch-nemesis David Nalbandian of Argentina in the final match of the 2005 ATP Tour tennis season came within two points of sealing his place in history by tying John Mcenroe's 1984 record of 82-3. However, it was not to be. Federer's season ended at 81-4. He lost, for the first time since his French Open semifinal loss to Rafael Nadal in a thrilling, 4 and a half hour match 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-1, 6-2, 7-6(3). It was high high drama on the tennis court. One of the few players who still gives Federer considerable difficulty is Nalbandian. This was their tenth professional match and Nalbandian had won the first 5 but lost the last 4 against Federer. Nalbandian only got into this elite season-ending tournament because Nadal, Hewitt, Roddick, Safin all pulled out before the tournament began. Federer was on crutches as recently as three weeks ago after he injured his ankle in practice soon after winning his 11th title of the year in Thailand. Federer can take solace that even injured he was within two points of winning and that he came back from 0-4 down in the final set to serve for the match at 6-5. Nalbandian can take credit for stopping Federer's consecutive match win streak at 35 and his even more remarkable consecutive final win streak at 24.

Despite his loss, Federer's grip on the #1 spot is not in doubt since he won two slams this year and the next slam is the 2006 Australian Open where Federer can gain points by getting to the final.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

WTA Tour Year In Review

Best Women's Tennis Matches of the Year

  1. 2005 Wimbledon Final. V. Williams d. L. Davenport 4-6, 7-6(4), 9-7.
    This was a match they will be talking about for years. Venus Williams was the #14 seed and had not been in a Grand Slam final for two years and and had not won a major title for neary four years. Although she had previously shown signs of her previous overpowering form against Pierce and Sharapova (see Match #3 on this list) almost no one felt that she could sustain the effort against the World's #1. Davenport served for the match twice and held two match points, which Venus erased by hitting winners. Eventually, after 2 hours and 45 minutes, in the longest Women's Wimbledon Final ever, Venus was the last woman standing, and she bounced around Centre Court with barely contained glee.
  2. 2005 WTA Tour Championship Final. A. Mauresmo d. M. Pierce 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4.
    A breakthrough win for Mauresmo at last in a very important match for her. As I commented extensively earlier about this match, this could be the breakthrough which could propel her to finally live up to her full potential at a Grand Slam. It will be interesting to see the impact of this match on her 2006 results.
  3. 2005 Wimbledon Semi-final. V. Williams d. M. Sharapova 7-6(2), 6-1.
    This is the match that made a believer out of me that Venus Williams could win a major tournament again. In the previous round she had dispatched a resurgent Mary Pierce in straight sets serving incredibly well at 84%. The level of play and the level of shrieking was incredibly high. Both players were moving incredibly well and hitting the ball powerfully and with pin-point accuracy. Sharapova had recently grown a few inches and was not moving as well as Venus whose footwork and foot speed were breathtaking. On the important points (like in the tiebreak in the first set) Venus went to another level and usually won the point with a winner. In the second set, Sharapova was discouraged and error-prone and Venus was able to race to an early lead and close out the match.
  4. 2005 Australian Open Semi-final. S. Williams d. M. Sharapova 2-6, 7-5, 8-6.
    Somehow, staring at defeat two match points down at 2-6, 4-5, 15-40 Serena was able to continue to still go for her shots and hit balls deep into the court and aim for the lines. As the rest of the year would show, Serena basically muscled and clawed her way to a victory in this match through sheer will (and a flawless second serve). This was the real Australian Open 2005 final, since Lindsay just ran out of gas against Serena a few days later.
  5. 2005 Indian Wells Semi-final. L. Davenport d. M. Sharapova 6-0, 6-0.
    I was in the audience to see this one-sided drubbing of the then-reigning Wimbledon champion. What was weird was that Lindsay wasn't playing amazing tennis or anything. She was hitting her typical deep, powerful groundstrokes but Sharapova could not keep a ball in the court and her much-vaunted serve was nowhere to be seen. The reason why this match is on the list is the amazing result that a match could be so one-sided, "double bagel" no less, between two players so close (and so high) in rank. If someone knows about an equivalent blowout between players ranked so high, I'd like to hear about it. (The 6-1, 6-1 drubbing of Pierce by Justine Henin-Hardenne at the 2005 French Open final doesn't count since neither woman was close to #1 in the world at the time.)
There are probably more than these five, but these are the women's matches that are the most memorable for me in 2005.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

GEORGIA: HIV+ Man Jailed For Consensual Unprotected Sex

The story of the HIV+ man who was charged under a Georgia criminal statute for having consensual unprotected sex with another man has undergone some recent developments. Garry Wayne Carriker, a 26-year old resident of Fayetteville, pleaded guilty to "felony reckless conduct" by not disclosing his HIV(-positive) status when he had sexual relations with another Georgia resident, named John Withrow, between December 10, 2003 and April 30, 2004. Carriker was sentenced to 10 years in jail (2 years to be served, 8 years on probation) for violating a 17-year old state law which criminalizes exposing another individual to HIV through sexual activity. This case raises a number of troubling issues. First, the Georgia law is problematic. Unlike the analogous California law which requires intent for a criminal prosecution, the Georgia statute is silent on this issue. Intent is an important feature of the statute if one wants to give equal responsibility to both parties involved in an episode of unprotected sex. If one does not assign equal responsibility to both sides and one only assigns responsibilty to the infected/infectious partner then what incentive is there for potentially infectious/infected people to get tested? If one's goal is to reduce the number of infections that occur, period, then one need to increase the number of people who know they are infected and increase incentives and remove barriers to people learning their HIV status. The Georgia law does the opposite: if the person is HIV+ (regardless of whether they know it) then they have committed a felony in the state of Georgia if they have unprotected sex with another person. The California law is the correct approach, and could have still been able to be used against Carriker since he was having unprotected sex with two people in one county even though he was under indictment in another county. Secondly, the reaction of "leaders" in the gay community like Chuck Bowen is somewhat disturbing. Chuck Bowen is the Executive Director of the Georgia Equality Project, the statewide LGBT political organization. He was quoted in Southern Voice as saying: "It's actually a wake-up call for members of the community here who are practicing unsafe sex. We hear about people like this, but never in your hometown. Hopefully it has called attention to the fact that we all need to perform safe sex." I agree with Bowen that this case calls attention to the fact that we should all be practising safe sex. However, it seems unhelpful at best to be referring to "members of the community who are practicing unsafe sex" as "people like this" and promulgating the notion that one never hears about "people like this" in [y]our hometown. Obviously, there are people who are practising unsafe sex in every community and every hometown in this country (and every other country, even North Korea). The question that people who are involved in the fight to reduce HIV infection and "end AIDS" have to answer is how can we best encourage people to engage in behavior which reduces the spread of HIV. Both Georgia's law and Bowen's comments are not conducive to this endeavor, in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mariah Vibes, Re-Releases Mimi, Appears in LA

The Vibe Awards were held this weekend in Los Angeles. My favorite diva Mariah Carey won multiple awards: R&B Voice of the Year, R&B Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. Mimi, as everyone calls her now, was apparently a trifle late. She was not present to receive her first award (R&B Voice of the Year) but later showed up to pick up the trophies in the larger categories.

Today Mariah is re-releasing The Emancipation of Mimi with 4 previously unreleased tracks. It's officially called "The Emancipation of Mimi Ultra Platinum Edition." I have previously reviewed the original release pretty extensively. I haven't decided if I will purchase the Ultra Platinum edition, but I do look forward to the new single "Don't Forget About Us." is reporting that Mariah will be at the Virgin Megastore at Hollywood & Highland signing copies of her new release from 7pm on today.

Monday, November 14, 2005

2005 WTA Tour Ends with Breakthrough by Mauresmo

Amèlie Mauresmo won a three-set thriller of a championship match versus compatriot and colleague Mary Pierce on Saturday in Los Angeles. The final score was 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4 and the match lasted 186 minutes.

This was a very important match for both players, but especially for Mauresmo. She has been consistently one of the four best players in the world for the since 2002 but has failed to make it past the semifinals of a Grand Slam in numerous tries. She has earned a rep of not being able to pull out a win in tight matches. This year she was up a break numerous times in the decisive set against Davenport in a Wimbledon semifinal. Davenport made it through and lost to Venus Williams in the best match of the year. Pierce already owns two slams (Australia Open 1995, French Open 2000) and was in two slam finals this year (French Open and U.S. Open). Coming in to the match the Pierce-Mauresmo head-to-head score was 4-4 and they both had 18 WTA Tour titles. However, Pierce has been on the tour for more than half of her life and is now 30 years old (15 January 1975). Mauresmo is 26 years old (15 July 1979). The $1 million purse and WTA Tour Champion title was the biggest prize of Mauresmo's career.

Repeatedly in the championship match Mauresmo would break Pierce only to immediately lose her own serve in the following game. Pierce had more break chances than Mauresmo but only converted them at an equivalent rate. In the first set, Mauresmo happened to get down on her serve in the 12th game of the match and break points became set points, one of which Pierce won to claim the first set 7-5. In the second set Mauresmo was able to break and hold to maintain a lead of 4-1 but then Pierce was able to win 4 games in a row to even the match, eventually leading to a tiebreaker, only the second these two had played in their 9 matches played. Mauresmo had won that first tiebreaker and she won this one as well, surprisingly. I (and most of the crowd at the Staples Center) expected Maureso to lose the tiebreaker and the match. Pierce had been 37-0 after winning the first set in matches all year, and just over a month ago she had come back from 0-6 down in a third set tiebreak to win the match. The day before she had beaten World #1 Lindsay Davenport in two tiebreak sets. The day before that she had beaten Mauresmo in a meaningless (Pierce and Mauresmo had both already qualified for the semifinals) but highly competitive three-set match. However, Pierce made some surprising forehand errors and Maresmo made some incredible gets to win the tiebreaker 7-3. Again in the third set the two traded breaks until finally in the ninth game Pierce went down 0-40 on her serve, saved one breakpoint and then lost the game on a forehand error. In the final game of the match Mauresmo was also down 0-40 on her serve but Pierce failed to keep her strokes in the court and Mauresmo got to deuce. She then won the marathon 3 hour, 6 minute match on her first match point. Overall play in the match was incredibly hight, with both players having more winners than errors. This was the second best match of the year (the best match of the year was the 2005 Wimbbledon Final of V. Williams d. L. Davenport).

Sunday, November 13, 2005

TV: Commander in Chief to address gay/HIV issues

One of the new shows I have been recording all season is ABC's Commander in Chief starring the wonderful Geena Davis (and her lips). There was a brief mention in last week's episode that one of the President's key aides may have AIDS (bad pun, I know). It was a minor point in last week's episode which revolved around the congressional approval of the President's nominee to be Vice President and the teenage hormones of the President's bratty paleoconservative daughter. The staffer, Vince Taylor, played by Anthony Azizi (seen in the far left in this cast shot) was randomly selected to take a drug test and was nervous that his would come back positive. Vince informs the White House Chief of Staff Jim Gardner (played by Harry Lennix) that he is HIV-positive. Jim, who had recently submitted his letter of resignation after losing the confidence of the President during an ongoing White House leak investigation following the publication of a tell-all book, tells the staffer that they only test for non-prescription illegal drugs and that he shouldn't worry about the drug test. He says something like "That's the least of the things you have to worry about now" and looks visibly shocked. What's weird about this scene is the notion that a high level staffer at the White House wouldn't know what drugs they test for and also not know that not all blood tests test for HIV antibodies or retroviral drugs. Anyway, it looks like this week's (Tuesday November 15) episode will continue this storyline more prominently. Stay tuned!

WTA Tour Championship Finals set

The Revenge of the Gauls! In Saturday's matches at the WTA Tour Championship, the Frenchwomen Amèlie Mauresmo and Mary Pierce were both victorious. In the day's first match, Miss Mary Pierce defeated World #1 Lindsay Davenport in two tight, close sets 7-6(5), 7-6(6). After that thrilling match, which I saw from the 4th row of the section closest to the net. Maria Sharapova and Amèlie Mauresmo took to the court. I'm sure most of the fans in attendance expected a blow-out straight-set victory by the defending champion, and Sharapova did not disappoint, sprinting to a 5-2 lead in the first set. Then something unexpected happened. Suddenly, Mauresmo started matching Sharapova's powerful shots, stroke for stroke. Mauresmo's hard serve started going in and she held to go to 3-5 and then broke Sharapova to put the set back on serve in a hard fought game which featured some aggressive shotmaking from both players. Both players held their serve to reach the tiebreak. Sharapova won the first point of the tie break with a service winner and then lost the next seven points of the tiebreak, double faulting on set point. In the second set Mauresmo rushed to a 5-1 lead as Sharapova's shots visibly lost power, depth and velocity. Then it was time for Sharapova's comeback. As Mauresmo attempted to serve out the match at 5-1, Sharapova broke her serve easily and then held. At 5-3, Mauresmo started badly with 0-30 but then was able to win the next three points to reach match point. On her second match point, the Frenchwoman was able to close out the match and set up an all-French final. For Mauresmo fans (like myself), the result was a hopeful preview of 2006. Others disagree, and believe the Pierce-Davenport match was more interesting and important.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Maine Won't Discriminate

Good news. As I blogged earlier, Maine voters have in the last decade repeatedly faced questions in their statewide elections on whether they would like to endorse anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation. Happily, on Tuesday November 8, Maine voters rejected a measure to repeal a recently enacted civil rights bill which indluded sexual orientation. The vote was 55% No, 45% Yes on the question of whether the civil rights bill should be repealed. The good guys won! Maine becomes the 16th state in the United States to have a statewide anti-discrimimation measure which includes sexual orientation. Maine's measure also includes transgender protections, making it the 6th state to do so.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gay Marriage (Between Media Companies)

After one abortive fling and a long and fractious courtship, gay media titans PlanetOut Inc ( and and LPI Media (, OUT Magazine) have agreed to merge. Interestingly, it will be a merger between corporate cultures as well. PNO is based in frigid San Francisco (obligatory disclosure: I used to be on the Board of Directors of Planetout, LLC but I have no financial interest or holdings in the company at this time) while LPI is based down here in warm Southern California. The corporate cultures are reflective of the climes in which the companies are based.

The two companies are also about the same size, with PNO being slightly bigger right now with 152 employees to LPI's 133. PlanetOut had 5.4 million visitors in October 2005 to its gay portals and LPI delivered 8.2 million magazines. When the companies first discussed merging in 1999 the deal was compared to the Time-Warner AOL mega-merger. We all know how well that turned out. It should be interesting to see how the editorial content of the magazines, particularly the Advocate newsmagazine is impacted. Long features about the joys of online dating perhaps? :-)

WTA Championship Surprises Continue

Clijsters lost again at the WTA Championship on Wednesday, this time to Amelie Mauresmo 6-3, 7-6(4). Mary Pierce continued her fine form by easily dispatching Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2. Unless both Pierce and Dementieva beat Mauresmo and Clijsters beats Dementieva, Clijsters will not qualify for the semifinal on Saturday and Lindsay Davenport will end the year #1. Lindsay beat Patty Schnyder 6-3, 7-5 and thus leads the Green group with 4-0 sets win-loss record. It is likely the Black group semifinalists will be Mauresmo and Pierce and the Green group semifinalists will be Davenport and Sharapova.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

California Says "Hell, No!" To Ah-nuld

Arnold got spanked. California voters rejected every single one of the propositions he personally put on the ballot (Props 74, 76 and 77) and wasted 55 million dollars (to 300 million dollars) of California taxpayers' money by calling the Tuesday November 8 special election. Even the propositions which he later endorsed (Prop 75) went down and flames. The smarmy anti-choice proposition 73 also failed. The only bright spot for the forces of evil was Big Pharma's win in having both Prop 78 and Prop 79 fail.

Interestingly, two Mad Professah-endorsed candidates Jose Huizar and Herb Wesson both won positions on the Los Angeles City Council.

Sadly, Donna Frye lost her bid to be elected Mayor of San Diego to Republican Jerry Sanders, an ex-police chief.

WTA Tour Championships Starts In L.A.

The final tournament of the year on the WTA Tour started in Los Angeles on Tuesday November 8. The eight players who qualify are divided into two groups of four, play a round-robin tournament comprised of each half and the top 2 finishers play a semifinal match against the top 2 from the other group. The two groups are:

Green Group

Black Group

Lindsay Davenport

Kim Clijsters

Maria Sharapova

Amelie Mauresmo

Patty Schnyder

Mary Pierce

Nadia Petrova

Elena Dementieva

I attended the opening night with some of my friends (Thanks, Leo!) and witnessed Mary Pierce come back from being down 2-4 in the third set against Kim Clijsters to pull out the match in a third set tiebreaker 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(2). It took us awhile to get in so we missed the first set where apparently the Frenchwoman was incroyable. During the portion of the match we saw Clijsters slowly worked her way into the match, earning a break in the always-important seventh game at 3-3. Clijsters was plagued with double faults throughout the match, serving eleven total for the match and even one one her first set point. After closing out the second set she immediately broke Pierce to open the third set and rolled to a 4-2 lead. Suddenly the momentum shifted when Pierce was able to save numerous breakpoints to hold at 3-4 and she won the next two games to be on serve 5-4. In the tiebreak, Pierce was very focussed and devastating. This is a woman who saved six consecutive match points at 0-6 down in a third set tiebreak against Elena Likhovsteva on her way to winning her 18th title in Moscaow a little over three weeks ago.

The next match was Maria Sharpova's win over the crafty (and crazy) Patty Schnyder, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Schnyder is a dangerous opponent: she's a lefty, very fast and plays with a lot of spin. She also has a suprisingly effective serve. But Sharapova had too much firepower in the end, hitting her now familiar winners from every part of the court. Lindsay Davenport's 6-2, 7-6(1) victory over Nadia Petrova was uneventful except for Lindsay's inexplicable moodiness towards the end of the second set (at 4-4 she looked like she definitely wanted to be home already and came within two points of losing the set at 5-6, 15-30) and Nadia's inability to believe the service line judge that Davenport's serves down the tee were indeed on the line.
An exiciting start to the final WTA Tour event of the year. I hope to attend Thursday and Friday and Saturday's matches and will have more reports later in the week.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

MadProfessah Endorses...

The official endorsements of the Mad Professah are available online. Basically, NIX ON THE FIRST SIX (No on Props 73-78, Yes on 79-80) and Jose Huizar for the 14th Los Angeles City Council district and Herb Wesson for the 10th Los Angeles City Council district.

KANSAS: Matthew Limon Released From Prison

Finally! Matthew Limon has been released from prison. As I mentioned before, he was put in prison for violating a Kansas statute which prevented sexual contact between adults over 18 years old and children under 18. Limon had just turned 18 and was living at a home for the developmentally disable in Paola, KS when he was accused of oral copulation with a 14-year old fellow male resident. He was convicted and sentenced to seventeen years in prison in 2003. If the underage minor had been a female the state's "Romeo and Juliet" law would have ensured that he not face more than fifteen months in prison. In June 2003, the Supreme Court voided all sodomy laws in the United States but it has taken almost two and a half years to Free Matthew.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Visiting The Red State of Georgia

I'm off to visit a red state this weekend. I will be in a light blue pocket (Atlanta, Georgia). I'm attending an interesting mathematical conference and testing the waters to see if I could stomach spending an entire semester in Atlanta during my scheduled sabbatical in the next academic year. Probably no blogging until Monday...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

SPAIN: Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Gay Marriage Challenge

From comes slightly upsetting news that the Supreme Court of Spain has agreed to hear a challenge questioning the constitutionality of the law which opened up marriage to same-sex couples in that country earlier this summer.

Polling Contradictions in California

Respected political columnist and blogger Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee has a summary of the various polls which have been released about the Governor's Ballot Propositions on the Tuesday November 8 special election. The basic notion is that the "new-fangled" polling operations SurveyUSA and Hoover Institute at Stanford University (both of which use automated or computer-based methods of contacting and interacting with voters) have some of the Propositions ahead, while the the Public Policy Institute of California and the Los Angeles Times and the Field Poll all show none of the Governor's propositions with majority support.
As Dan points out, not all of these polls can be accurate, so someone (besides the Governor) will have egg on their face on Wednesday November 9, the day after the election. To make sure of this, please remember to VOTE ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER 8, and NIX ON THE FIRST SIX (No on Props 73, 74, 75, 76, 77 and 78) and Yes on the 79 and 80.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

ALASKA: Governor Proposes Amendment To Overturn Court Decision

Well, that was fast! I posted on Sunday about a decision by the Alaska Supreme Court which preserves domestic partner benefits for same-sex domestic partners of public employees. Now comes word that the Governor of the state, Frank Murkowski (former U.S. Senator and father of current U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski) is proposing a state constitutional amendment to overturn that recent court ruling. You may recall that in the case of ACLU v. Alaska the Alaska Supreme Court said that the "[state's] spousal limitations violated the Alaska Constitution equal protection clause." (bold emphasis mine.) This is how Republican's react when constitutional violations are pointed out by a court: try to amend the constitution. Of course, the other strategy is to appoint judges who won't recognize the constitutional violation in the first place.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Arnold's Propositions Heading For Defeat!

The new Field poll is out and one week before the election all of Schwarzenegger's ballot initiatives are headed for defeat.

# (Proposition)



74 (Teacher Tenure)



75 (Union Dues)



76 (Budget Cap)



77 (Redistricting)



This news comes coupled with word from today's Los Angeles Times that the Governor's campaign staff is counting on (and hoping for) a low turnout next week from Democrats.

Black Tennis Report for October 2005

Black Tennis Report for October 2005

Serena Williams announced her 2005 season was over, in a controversial press release which has been excoriated in some areas.

Venus Williams was still in the hunt to qualify for the WTA Tour Championships in Los Angeles. Bill Cosby suggested that the City of Compton should invite the Williams sisters to attend a parade in their honor in their hometown.

James Blake continued his amazing end-of-season form by winning the Stockholm Open 6-1, 7-6(8) over Paradorn Srichapan on Sunday October 16. He has now won 2 of the last 3 tournaments he has played in (losing a 5-setter to Andre Agassi at the US Open quarterfinals).

Angela Haynes lost in the quarterfinals of the $50, 000 San Francisco Tennis Classic just a few days after burying her brother Dontia Haynes. He died in San Diego in a motorcycle accident on Friday September 23rd. He had played tennis at San Diego State University and was often Angela's hitting partner. The SDSU Athletics Department has set up a fund to remember Dontia and support the Haynes family in the wake of their devastating loss. The address is: Dontia Haynes Family Support Fund, San Diego State Athletics,
c/o Carol Propstra, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 91942-4313

Monday, October 31, 2005

Scary Day Indeed: Bush Names (Sc)Alito To Replace O'Connor

President Bush has decided to completely cave-in to his right-wing, evangelical base and has chosen Judge Samuel Alito to be his new Supreme Court nominee. Alito has been the "wet dream" choice of Christian conservatives for years. He was appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey 15 years ago at the age of 40 by President George H.W. Bush. He is brilliant, Catholic and extremely conservative, a "Scalia-lite." This has earned him the nickname Scalito.

Amusing (and scary) that Bush would pick Halloween to name such a nominee in the wake of Rosa Parks death.

Venus Unlikely To Qualify for WTA Championships

Nadia Petrova (finally) won her first WTA Tour title on Sunday, the Generali Ladies Tournament in Linz, Austria by handily beating the crafty veteran left-hander Patty Schnyder 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Schnyder promptly withdrew from this week's Advanta Championships in Philadelphia, the penultimate tour event of the year. Venus Williams had earlier withdrawn which means that she is unlikely to qualify for the tour-ending WTA championships in Los Angeles starting Tuesday November 8. As I mentioned earlier, the much hyped "race to Los Angeles" turned out to be not much of a race when Venus didn't compete for the 8th and final slot and has now been passed by both Schnyder (#7) and Petrova (#8) and may even slip to #10 if Dementieva wins two matches in Philadelphia. Interestingly, Serena is at #11. These are the calendar year performance rankings, not the official past-12-month rankings. Lindsay is currently at the top of both, although Kim Clijsters has the best shot to end the year #1 if she gets to the final in L.A. and Sharapova doesn't repeat as WTA Tour Champion. I still think it's very likely that one of the top 8 who has qualified for Los Angeles but who has not played recently due to injury (i.e. Justine Henin-Hardenne) may withdraw, allowing the #9 person to enter the draw, but at this point that is likely to be Elena Dementieva and not the 2005 Wimbledon Champion and Los Angeles native Venus Ebony Starr Williams.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Arnold Slow On Filling Supreme Court Vacancy

Carol Corrigan Vance Raye

Former California State Supreme Court justice Janice Rogers Brown (and certified whacko) has issued her first ruling from her new perch on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and President Bush has nominated two people to the U.S. Supreme Court in the four and a half months there has been a vacancy on the 7-member California Supreme Court. Reportedly, the President is set to nominate either Alito or Luttig on Monday but the Governator still hasn't picked his State Supreme Court nominee. Arnold did make some state appellate court nominations on Friday and has apparently narrowed his choice down to two candidates: Vance Raye and Carol Corrigan. Raye is basically a clone (and crony) of Janice Rogers Brown whom many legal commenters (including the Attorney General of the State of California) have problems with. On the plus side, he did vote earlier this year to uphold California's Domestic Partner Benefits Law. Carol Corrigan is more moderate but apparently is so tough that she caused a grown man to faint in an oral argument two weeks ago! Gee, whom do you think Arnold will pick?


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