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


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