Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Week Until Election Day: Why Tuesday?

One week from election day, today's Los Angeles Times has an interesting story on the question "Why do we vote on Tuesdays"? Apparently there's an organization called Why Tuesday, which is a bipartisan grassroots campaign to change election day from the "first Tuesday after the first Monday in November" to a weekend day.

The interesting part of the article is the report of the contest that Why Tuesday is sponsoring to have video of politicians answering the question "Why do we vote on Tuesday?" to the ubiquitous YouTube website.
The first person to post a clip of a particular official onto YouTube or another video-sharing website cashes in.

The bounty hunting is lucrative: For a current U.S. House member, the payoff is $300, while a sitting U.S. senator or governor is worth $500. A vice president, either sitting or not, brings $2,500; President Bush or a predecessor commands $5,000.
What is interesting about the campaign is the education about the history of why Americans vote on Tuesday. It is not in the Constitution, it is an 1845 federal law (3 U.S.C. 1). It can be changed by another vote of Congress. However, since Republicans really don't want more people to vote, it is unlikely such legislation would survive a Presidential veto.

Whitney Looking Good!

Today's Queerty has a link to a People magazine article about Whitney Houston appearing at the 17th Carousel of Hope Ball on Saturday October 28th for Juvenile Diabetes which raised nearly 70 million dollars. Now that's a house party! She was with Clive Davis (who discovered her when he ran Arista Records) and sat at Halle Berry's table.
The most exciting aspect of the article (and event) is this picture:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Judicial Endorsements for November 7 Election

The Los Angeles Times had an editorial containing their judicial endorsements in Wednesday's paper.
California's Court of Appeal is an intermediate court divided into six geographic districts. Justices of the 2nd District hear appeals from trial courts in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. The following justices are on the ballot, have served with distinction and deserve a "yes" vote: Robert M. Mallano, Frances Rothschild, Roger W. Boren, Victoria M. Chavez, Patti S. Kitching, Richard D. Aldrich, Norman L. Epstein, Thomas L. Willhite, Nora M. Manella, Steve Suzukawa, Richard M. Mosk, Sandy R. Kriegler, Arthur Gilbert, Dennis M. Perluss, Fred Woods, Laurie D. Zelon, Candace D. Cooper and Madeleine Flier.

For Los Angeles Superior Court, four offices offer voters a choice. For Office No. 8, Bob Henry, a California deputy attorney general, has broad experience in criminal and civil law. For Office No. 18, Daviann Mitchell is a former police officer who now prosecutes gang crimes as a Los Angeles deputy district attorney. Two other current deputy district attorneys also deserve to be elected: Hayden Zacky for Office No. 102 and David W. Stuart for Office No. 144.

I am disagreeing with some of the Times picks, specifically:
Judicial Office        MadProfessah            L.A. Times
Superior Court, #8 Deborah L. Sanchez Bob Henry
Superior Court, #18 John C. Gutierrez Daviann L. Mitchell
Superior Court, #102 Hayden Zacky Hayden Zacky
Superior Court, #104 Bobbi Tillmon Bobbi Tillmon
Superior Court, #144 Janis Levart Barquist David W. Stuart

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Follow-Up On 'Use It Or Lose It' Campaign

It looks like MadProfessah was on to something when I used my blog this week to publicize MyDD's Use It or Lose It campaign to get Democratic congressmembers running in safe districts to transfer 30% of their cash on hand to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Here are the results with phone numbers to call and thank the Congresspeople for their generous contributions to assist in a Democratic Congressional majority.

Name      Money to DCCC     District     Phone
Howard Berman, $100K, CA-28, (818) 366-4293
Adam Schiff, $160K, CA-29, (626) 583-8581
Hilda Solis, $100K, CA-32, (202) 225-5464
Jane Harman, $50K, CA-36, (310) 328-9125
Grace Napolitano, $80K, CA-38, (202) 225-5256

Woo hoo! That's over 400,000 dollars that we in California got moved to help in the fight to have Nancy Pelosi be the next Speaker of the House.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Black Grey's Anatomy Star Apologizes For Homophobic Remark

Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington issued a statement on Thursday apologizing for the homophobic slurs he hurled at newly out co-star T.R. Knight during an altercation with another co-star, Patrick Dempsey, last week. Here is the text of the statement"
"I sincerely regret my actions and the unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on set. Both are beneath my own personal standards and do not reflect the great personal regard I have for my fellow cast mates and crew, whom I believe to be some of the most talented in the entertainment industry. I have nothing but respect for my coworkers, as people and artists, and have apologized personally to everyone involved."
I think it is very cool that Mr. Washington apologized so quickly and meaningfully for his hurtful remarks. Now, let's hope he puts his actions where his words are and appears at some kind of LGBT event in the near future. We will be watching!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Democratic Black Senate Candidate Criticizes NJ Marriage Ruling

U.S. Representative Harold Ford, Jr., a rising star in the Democratic party and its candidate in the highly contested race for retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's Tennessee U.S. Senate seat has issued the following statement on yesterday's New Jersey marriage decision:
"I do not support the decision today reached by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage, and have voted twice in Congress to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. This November there's a referendum on the Tennessee ballot to ban same-sex marriage - I am voting for it."

This has not gone down well with commenters at DailyKos. Over 1000 commenters have responded to Markos Moulitsas Zuniga's comment "Yeah, I want Ford to win. But I won't cry when he doesn't."

Amen to that!

REVIEW: Quinceanera

I finally got around to seeing the movie Quinceañera at the Regency Fairfax Theaters (corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Boulevard) Tuesday night. For someone who has lives East of downtown Los Angeles for over a decade the movie is a very involving montage of familiar and pseudo-familiar locales in Echo Park and its environs. Just as a well-made soup (like menudo) needs a delicious broth or base to begin with, these locations serve as a backdrop (or base) for the dramatic story which unfolds.

Before Quinceañera there were a number of preview trailers for coming attractions. One of those was for the sacccharine Will Smith Oscar-bait vehicle The Pursuit of Happyness. ("Why is 'happiness' spelled with a 'Y'?" I whispered to my companion. "Shhhhh, don't be such a grammarian. It's Will Smith's Erin Brockovich." Yeah" I replied, "Tyrone Brockovich!") Also shown was the trailer for the film adaptation of Christopher Paolini's best-selling novel Eragon. This was interesting to me because I have read this first book of the Inheritance trilogy (and the second book, Eldest, which is probably an even better read). They are both excellent "young adult" speculative fiction novels on par with the Phillip Pullman His Dark Materials books (See Madprofessah review) and superior to the Harry Potter books. I had just seen the "Now a Major motion picture!" mass-market paperback earlier in the day while shopping and actually viewed the trailer online. It looks like the film makers are being pretty faithful to the vision of the young author (Paolini was 15 when he began writing Eragon). We'll see on December 15th. We'll have to wait until next year to see how the film version of the first His Dark Materials book (The Amber Spyglass)with Nicole Kidman.

Anywho, back to Quinceañera. The movie theater was almost empty, but it was in excellent shape, much more presentable than my favorite second-run movie house in Pasadena, the Regency Academy 6 Theaters (a block away from the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Lake Boulevard). And the price was unbeatable: $3 for every seat. I liked the movie; it is very enjoyable. It's well-written and well acted. Jesse Garcia, who I met and took a picture with at the Task Force Leadership Awards on October 8, is smoldering hot in the movie as a gay cholo member of a large extended Latino family. I didn't know much about the movie except that it was about the ceremony marking the passage to adulthood of a young Latina played by Emily Rios. The ceremony/party gives the movie its orthographically challenging name: Quinceañera. The co-directors (and life partners) Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland do an excellent job of portraying the look and communicating the mood of the Echo Park area. They are less successful at illustrating the milieu, angst and frenzy of teensocial life. There's a certain level of artifice in the teen-only scenes. This is in stark contrast to the portrayal of the gay social settings and the Latino family conversations. These seem dead on.

There are some disturbing aspects of the film. As I thought about it more, the ways in which the Latino body is sexualized and problematized stuck with me. As a gay man, the character of Carlos played by Jesse Garcia is clearly geared to me. He is introduced to the viewer with a close-up shot of his neck with a large "213" tattoo and buzzed head wearing a "wife-beater" tank top. When viewed by the two main gay white characters it leads to immediate scampering to windows and craning of necks for a better view of the "hot cholo in a tank top." The Latino gay male body is viewed as a hot new property to be explored, possessed and then bragged about at a dinner party ("Honey, tell them about Carlos." "He's hot." "Yeah, and eight inches uncut!"), similar to the way that Latino-occupied real estate in Echo Park is explored, possessed and then bragged about at a house party ("You all are so lucky to find this place. So-and-so bought their place and it doubled in value in three years.") Also, the body of the main female character is dealt with problematically, primarily around body image and the stunning (and expensive) Quinceañera dress she wants to wear. There are some other disquieting issues surrounding the female character I don't want to get into in this review, because it involves a pivotal plot point in the film.

Another disturbing part of the film to me is its lack of racial diversity; specifically the absence of Black people. There is exactly one (that I saw) sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus. I believe this is a conscious choice by the film makers, to implicate racial stratrification with gentrification. The white gay social settings are monochromatically white (and entirely male) except for the invited "hot cholo" and one jaded plaything. The latino social settings are also ethnically uniform, although there is some diversity in the "different kinds of Latinos" portrayed.

The film has a surprisingly unsympathetic portrayal of gay and lesbian people, considering the co-directors are both openly gay. The main gay white characters in the film are portrayed as rich, comfortable, ruthless and spoiled. This is partially mitigated by lesbians, who like the gay male characters are also seen as upwardly mobile agents of gentrification, but they are at least conflicted about it, and if I interperet the last scene are ultimately sympathetic.

I would definitely recommend the film, particularly to Los Angeles residents. And I will definitely be going to the Regency Fairfax Theaters again, soon!


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Jersey Marriage Decision available: Not A Win, But Not A Complete Loss Either

It is a pretty long decision. (90 pages) It appears to be close to the Vermont Baker decision, where the Supreme Court states that the Givernement should treat similarly situated same-sex couples equally, but is NOT saying that the civil institution called "marriage" must be opened up immediately (which is what the Massachusetts' Goodridge decision said, with a 6 month delay).

The New Jersey decision (pdf available here) gives the Legislature a similar deadline:

The constitutional relief that we give to plaintiffs cannot
be effectuated immediately or by this Court alone. The
implementation of this constitutional mandate will require the
cooperation of the Legislature. To bring the State into
compliance with Article I, Paragraph 1 so that plaintiffs can
exercise their full constitutional rights, the Legislature must
either amend the marriage statutes or enact an appropriate
statutory structure within 180 days of the date of this

Basically they are saying "you can have all the rights and responsibilities" of marriage, but you have to call it a civil union. But the problem with civil unions is that in the American federal structure there is no way that a "separate but equal" instititution can be created which obviates this discrimination against same-sex couples and their families.

UPDATE: Note that three Justices (including Chief Justice Poritz) wanted marriage equality immediately, but four Justices want to punt to the Legislature, with strict instructions to eliminate discrimination and an admonition that the current New Jersey Domestic Partnership statute doesn't pass legal muster.

NEWSFLASH: New Jersey Marriage decision due today at Noon PDT

Lambda Legal has sent out an email alerting activists that the New Jersey Supreme Court wil be issuing its decision in Lewis v. Harris at 12 noon PDT (3pm EDT) today, Wednesday October 25th, one day before Chief Justice Deboorah T. Poritz is forced to retire at age 70. New Jersey is one of just 5 states which do not have statutes or constitutional amendments restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. It's also does not have a statute restricting New Jersey marriages to residents of that state (unlike Massachusetts). The New York Times has an article on its website today which explains the stakes for the marriage equality movement. Earlier in the week, The Times had a good article explaining the anxiety and speculation going on among New York/New Jersey metropolitan area LGBT activists. One of them is quoted as saying "We have no fingernails left."

Keep those fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Yesterday's Netroots Call To Action Hits Mainstream Newspapers Today

Today's Los Angeles Times has a news article ("Web Activists Have a Plan For Democrats") by Ronald Brownstein, the paper's Washington Outlook columnist, in which he reports on the Netroots call to action I posted about yesterday. Brownstein reports about the comments of the MyDD users who participated in the action, as well as some quotes from Democratic Congressmembers staffers which sounded pretty similar to what I heard when I made my calls to all the Los Angeles area Congressmembers on the list: (Berman, Becerra, Schiff, Solis, Harman and Napolitano).

At Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-31)'s office I talked to a female staffer who said that he had flown thousands of miles and attended dozens of events for democratic congressional candidates all over the country. She also said that there were federal campaign donation laws and that Becerra had maxed out his contributions to many of these candidates. When I remarked that I was talking about a transfer of funds to the DCCC, for which there are no FEC limits she just reiterated her talking points that the Congressman had made significant contributions to many candidates around the country. I gave her my name and number and asked her to call me back with a more specific dollar mount of the Congressman DCCC transfer is known.

At Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-29)'s office I talked to a female staffer who seemed pretty excited about hearing from committed constituents. She asked if I had heard about the campaign from moveon.org. I told her, they are joining mydd.com in endorsing the call for safe Democrats to pitch in to help embattled candidates and stop hoarding their cash on hand. She said that Congressmember Schiff had given over $600,000 to Democratic candidates and although he had $1.4 million on hand as of September 30th he has given some of that to the DCCC and is planning on attending a big fundraiser this Thursday to support some Colorado congressional candidates and is planning on bringing "a big check." When pressed on the amount the Congressman would transfer to the DCCC, the staffer said that they didn't want to be held to any specific number but that the Congressman was making efforts to insure a Democratic House majority is elected in November.

Rep. Howard Berman (CA-28)'s office called me back (!) this afternoon and left a message:
"Hi this message is for [MadProfessah]. This is Bob in Congressmember Berman's campaign office. I got a message from you urging the Congressman to give 171,000 (30% of his campaign money) to the DCCC. I wanted to assure you are preaching to the choir. He is giving 225,000 to the D-Triple-C. He has raised another 185,000 for the D-Triple-C and he's still working. He has also raised and given another 170,000 to races around the country. He is also doing everything he can and giving everything he can to make sure the Democrats take back the Congress."
Looks like great media minds think alike, since the New York Times also has an article on this story in today's edition.

Monday, October 23, 2006

What YOU in California Can Do To Help the Democrats Take Back Congress

Chris Bowers over at MyDD.com has joined with MoveOn.org to issue a Call to Action to the Netroots: Use It Or lose It! As many polls and political pundits indicate that Democrats are poised to win majorities in next month's midterm congressional elections, California Democratic congressmembers are sitting on rather large amounts of cash on hand whch would be better served helping Democrats in Republican leaning districts.

Call safe Democratic Representatives in your state and ask them to give 30% of their campaign funds to Democratic challengers and / or party committees!

Tips for good calls
1. Be Polite
2. Be prepared for pushback
3. Tell them that this is an extraordinary situation because so many Republican seats are in play
4. Tell them that other Democrats have given more than 30%
5. Give them a way to contact you when they decide how much to pledge
6. Call the following Los Angeles area Democrats

Name (district) Opponent Campaign Number DC Office
Howard Berman (CA-28) Token Republican 818-366-4293 202-225-4695
Adam Schiff (CA-29) Token Republican 626-583-8581 202-225-4176
Xavier Becerra (CA-31) No Republican 213-484-8961 202-225-6235
Hilda L. Solis (CA-32) No Republican 310-477-8081 202-225-5464
Jane Harman (CA-36) Token Republican 310-328-9125 202-225-8220
Grace Napolitano (CA-38) Token Republican 562-462-1132 202-225-5256

I have already made my calls. You can do it, too!

If anyone can get a better number for Solis and Napolitano, please post it in the comments. Thousands of people all over the country are making these calls. The staffers I spoke with in Schiff and Becerra's office seemed impressed by the activity.

Federer, Sharapova Continue Consecutive Win Streaks

2006 Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Roger Federer and 2006 U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova won important indoor tournaments over the weekend in Europe. Federer won the ATP Master Series title in Madrid, Spain by defeating Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 7-5, 6-1, 6-0 in 1 hour, 47 minutes. It was the World #1's 10th title of the year, 4th Masters Series shield of the year, record 82 ATP Tour match win of the year and his 19th consecutive match win since losing to Andy Murray in August in Cincinnati.

Sharapova won the Zurich Open by defeating Slovak Daniel Hantuchova 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Sharapova is also on a consecutive match winning streak: 12 in a row (Acura Classic, US Open, Zurich Open). She's currently in a race with Amelie Mauresmo and Justine Henin-Hardenne for the year-end #1 ranking.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Anderson Cooper's Papi?

The always informative (and amusing) Queerty republished this picture from the always snarky (and addictive) Gawker website showing out(?) CNN anchor Anderson Cooper walking with a so-far unidentified young male companion on the streets of New York.

Looks like Anderson and I share an appreciation for Latin (ahem!) culture.

George from Grey's Anatomy Comes Out After Homophobic Remarks On Set

T.R. Knight, the actor who plays the diffident doctor George O'Malley on the hit ABC Thursday night series Grey's Anatomy has officially come out of the closet.
He (or "his people") issued the following statement:
“I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I'd like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I'm gay isn't the most interesting part of me."

Nice! Though apparently the reason for the oddly timed statement (hello, TR, National Coming Out Day was last week!) was related to this initially bland report about an on-set brawl between stars Isaiah Washington (Dr. Preston Burke) and Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd). The New York Daily News and National Enquirer have the specific (and illuminating!) details of the incident. Apparently, Isaiah Washington used homophobic remarks to describe T.R. Knight ("faggot" and "bitch") and the gallant Patrick Dempsey stood up for his now openly-gay co-star and a pretty violent confrontation ensued:
At that point," said the source, "Isaiah said something mean to T.R. Knight" [i.e. 'I'm not your little faggot like TR'].

"That's when Patrick told Isaiah, 'Pick on somebody your own size.'

"Well, that did it. Isaiah became enraged and grabbed Patrick by the throat and shoved him back a few feet.

"Dr. McDreamy [Dempsey's nickname] almost landed in McDreamland."

When Knight demanded that the pair break it up, the source says, "Isaiah called him a bitch. Isaiah stormed off to his trailer to cool off, while Patrick and T.R. stood there in disbelief.


Friday, October 20, 2006

BookMooching Is Fun

Thanks to Terrance at Republic of T I checked out bookmooch.com a few weeks ago. He had a post on August 15th (a mere 9 days after the service launched!) titled "Mooching Books" which caught my eye.

So far I have mooched 2 books and had 5 books mooched from me. I currently have 4 pending mooch requests: Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson, Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, Rag and Bone by Michael Nava.

  1. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge
  2. A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge


  1. Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
  2. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
  3. Intuition by Allegra MacDonald
  4. The Tipping Point by Malcold Gladwell
  5. The Lne of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

It's actually pretty fun to send complete strangers your unwanted books (it only cost about 2 dollars, usually less to send a book using the U.S. Postal Service media mail rate) in order to have the opportunity to ask other complete strangers to send me their unwanted books.

Just this week, the founder of BookMooch.com, John Buckman sent out an email with some interesting statistics about the site (that's how I discovered the website had only been live since early August).

Check out bookmooch.com and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What Are The Things That Are Always In Your Car?

Mack Reed at LAVoice.org has put up a post promoting the meme originated at Autoblog about The Top 10 Things You Must Have In Your Car
Here is MadProfesah's list:

1. Thomas Guide
2. Very old blue Ryder Rentals moving blanket
3. Change for parking meters
4. Dozens of take-away brochures from restaurants (Baja Fresh, Dulan's Soul Food Restaurant, Yang Chow, etc etc)
5. 3 or 4 gym towels
6. A gallon of water
7. Those foldable, collapsible windshield sunshades

Of course since I'm a college professor there's usually massive amounts of pieces of paper floating around also... with at least a half dozen pens.

What's in your car?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

300 000 000!

The New York Times has an article in today's edition about the population of the United States reaching the milestone of 300 million at 4:46am PDT on October 17, 2006. Their article is about the Census Department's refulsal to put an official declaration on any particular baby born that day as "Number 300, 000,000." This is in contrast to what happened the last time the population hit a 100 million landmark. On November 20, 1967, Robert Woo was declared to be the 200 millionth American. Apparently the 400th million American will make their appearance in 2043, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Meanwhile, the US population clock keeps ticking: Every 8 seconds somebody is born. Every 13 seconds somebody dies. Every 31 seconds there's another immigrant - legal or illegal. It adds up to a net gain of one person every 11 seconds, or about 8,000 every day. It took 39 years to add the most recent 100 million; the next 100 million will take a couple of years less than that.
There a numerous interesting implications to the population increase that the US (unlike its other "First World" contemporaries) is experiencing. One of the most controversial changes is demographic. By 2050 (after the next 125 million) the US population will be less than 50% "non-Hispanic white." This demographic inevitability has produced a near-panic in some quarters and fuels most of the nativist rhetoric which has been bandied about during the immigration reform debate. Probably the most pressing question is the one of how urban areas such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Diego will manage the growth and need for resources.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mad Professah Endorsements For November 7 Election

The California statewide election is Tuesday, November 7, 2006. Exactly 21 days away. My absentee ballot has arrived and I will be voting for:
Office                                Endorsed Candidate
Governor Phil Angelides
Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi
Attorney General Jerry Brown
Secretary of State Debra Bowen
Controller John Chiang
Treasurer Bill Lockyer
Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner
Board of Equalization, 4th Distrist Judy Chu
Proposition Number (Topic) Position
Proposition 1A (Transportation Funding "Protection") NO
Proposition 1B ($19.9bn Transportation Bond) YES
Proposition 1C ($2.85bn Housing/Shelter Bond) YES
Proposition 1D ($10.4bn K-16 Education Bond) YES
Proposition 1E ($4.1bn Disaster/Flood Bond) YES
Proposition 83 ("Tough on sex offenders" measure) NO
Proposition 84 ($10.5bn Clean Water Bond) YES
Proposition 85 (Parental Notification Measure) NO
Proposition 86 (Cigarette Tax Increase) YES
Proposition 87 (Alternative Energy Program Funded By Oil Tax) YES
Proposition 88 (Fake Education Reform Property Tax Increase) NO
Proposition 89 (Political Campaign Reform/public Financing) YES
Proposition 90 (Overturns U.S. Supreme Court Kelo Decision) NO
There are also some local (Los Angeles city and county) measures to be voted on
Proposition (Topic)                                Position
Measure H ($1bn Low-Cost Housing Bond) YES
Measure J (Technical Fix to 2000 Prop. F) YES
Measure R (City Council Term Limit Extension) YES

In addition, two California Supreme Court justices who may be instrumental in winning the right to marry for same-sex couples in the upcoming case of Woo v Lockyer are up for confirmation of 7-year terms: Joyce L. Kennard and Carol Corrigan. I will be voting to confirm both of them. As usual, there are a slew of other (lower-level) judicial candidates that I have very little information about to make an informed choice about. I will try to have a separate post on judicial candidates by next Tuesday.

Kramnik Wins World Chess Championship Title In Final Tiebreak Match

The long awaited "title unification match" between Bulgarian Veselin Topalov (2803), the highest rated chess player in the world, and Vladimir Kramnik (2743), who some consider the defending World Chess Federation champion, concluded last Friday October 13th with a horrendous blunder by Topalov in the fourth tiebreak rapid match (25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move) giving the undisputed title of World Chess Champion to the Russian. The match was full of drama, with Topalov losing the first two games and Kramnik losing a game by default in Game 5 during a protest following accusations that he was using a computer during his dozens of bathroom breaks during the 5-hour games. The regulation section (40 movies in 2 hours, followed by 20 moves in 1 hour) of the match ended with a bang, with three consecutive decisive games during Games 8, 9 and 10 with two consecutive wins by Topalov followed by a win by Kramnik to tie the match. After 12 games the score was tied 6-6, which led to the rapid tiebreak games, which Kramnik won by winning with the White pieces twice whereas Topalov was held to a draw in the first game.

As a former international chess player as a junior, I still follow the game pretty closely myself.
I was always a big fan of Garry Kasparov, probably the greatest player ever. Topalov is his natural successor, while Kramnik is more in the mold of Kasparov's nemesis, Anatoly Karpov. Unfortunately, it looks like "Karpov" (Kramnik) won this round. However, the prize money of $1 million will be split evenly between the players. Topalov is already calling for a rematch to be held in March 2007.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Gay marriage on ballot in 8 states November 7

The Washington Blade has an informative summary of the rash of ballot measures on same-sex marriage and civil unions up for a vote in various states this November.
Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman and foreclose the possibility of civil unions.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman. Also, a separate referendum would extend many rights to domestic partners.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman and foreclose the possibility of civil unions.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman and foreclose the possibility of civil unions.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman and foreclose the possibility of civil unions.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman, foreclose the possibility of civil unions and endanger existing legal protections for unmarried couples.

Amendment would limit marriage to unions of one man and one woman, foreclose the possibility of civil unions and endanger existing legal protections for unmarried couples.

The only ones where we have a chance of not losing is Wisconsin (Question 1) and Arizona (Proposition 107). The Advocate seems to think that Virgina will be close. Mad Professah doubts this very much. The most interesting battleground is Colorado, where there are two competing measures (Amendment 43 and Referendum I) on the ballot. Amendment 43 is a one sentence constitutional amendment identical to California's Proposition 22 which was passed as an initiative statute 61-39 in 2000. It declares that "only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in [Colorado]." However, Referendum I asks voter to approve the Legislature's actions of extablishing the "Colorado Domestic Partner Benefits and Responsibility Act" which is practically identical to California's AB 205, a comprehensive domestic partnership act, which was enacted in 2003. Currently, both Colorado ballot measures are ahead in the polls, with the Referendum at 58% and the Amendment at 52%!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Viola is 7 years old today

Violapalooza continues in San Francisco. I'll try and drive back down to LA tomorrow and post pictures of the festivities then, since I forgot my digital camera transfer cord, although I brought the laptop and camera with me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Leenah Friday!

I have no idea why blogger is rotating this image 90 degrees clockwise, but anyway here's your Leenah Friday!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Travelling to Bay Area

I'm going up to San Francisco for a very special little girl's 7th birthday party on Saturday. Light blogging until Sunday...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

National Coming Out Day is Today

October 11 is Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday, and is also more popularly known as "National Coming Out Day" in the United States. Greg Hernandez at Out in Hollywood put together a photo gallery of out heroes which I encourage people to check out. His list includes...
Amelie Mauresmo, Peter Paige, Sam Harris, Thomas Roberts, Charlie David, John Barrowman, Chad Allen, Billie Jean King, Kate Clinton, Wilson Cruz,Alan Cummings, Cynthia Nixon, Ellen DeGeneres, Rupert Everett, Robert Gant, George Takei, KD Lang, Ian McKellen, Alec Mapa, Jim Verraros, Cast of Queer Eye, Reichen and Lance Bass, Elton John, Leslie Jordan, Martina Navratilova, Rex Lee, Rosie O'Donnell, Sarah Paulson and Cherry Jones, Jason Stuart, Marcellas Reynolds, Billy Bean and Bruce Vilanch.

Happy National Coming Out Day everyone!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pictures from Leadership Awards, Spirit of Hope Awards

Task Force Deputy Director Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman, Mad Professah Jesse Garcia (l), star of Quinceanera with Mad Professah
Bruce Vilanch hosted the Los Angeles Leadership Awards with his typical panache and humor Being Alive Los Angeles' 14th Annual Spirit of Hope awards, featuring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

UPDATE: Mad Professah was the last person at the podium of Sunday's Los Angeles Leadership Awards, in charge of doing "The pitch" to ask the assembled audience members to dig deep and give even more money to The Task Force.

Mad Professah help raise an extra THIRTY SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS for the Task Force.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mad Professah in Event Overload

There are three important fundraising events today, the NGLTF Los Angeles Leadership Awards, the Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing Garden Party and Being Alive Los Angeles' Spirit of Hope Awards.

Sadly, Mad Professah will only be able to attend the first and third of these...Full report later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Commentary on California Appellate Decision on Marriage

Yesterday, an intermediate appellate court by a vote of 2-1 overturned a lower court decision which had previously declared California's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Oddly, the main thrust of the majority's argument was that the question of whether same-sex couples be allowed access to civil marriage should be decided by the Legislature. Of course, when the Governor vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act he said that the same question "should be decided by the courts, not legislators."

Two of the states branches of government are treating the marital hopes and dreams of same-sex couples like a hot potato. It’s unfortunate that most judges do not seem to be able to make the relatively simple intellectual connection between the opposite-sex restriction in marriage and the impact it has on same-sex couples and their families. The rationale that judges can not “redefine” the definition of marriage because “throughout time” same-sex couples have not been able to marry is circular logic. In the 1970s there were some attempts at same sex marriage and in those rulings judges would say things like “The state need not recognize this [marriage licence application], because what defendants have proposed is not a marriage.” This is basically jurisprudence by dictionary!

One would have thought that by 2006 judges would be educated and disciplined enough to realize that the issues are too important to be decided with simplistic and anachronistic reasoning.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Leenah Friday (video!)

After spending two weeks in Argentina using my digital camera extensively I have learned how to use it to record video. So, since today is Leenah Friday™ I thought I would give you all something special. Video of Leenah!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


C John Scalzi's Old Man's War was nominated for a 2006 Hugo Award for Best Novel with winners to be announced at the 2006 LACon IV science fiction convention. I have been spending my summer trying to read the 2006 nominees since I was alerted to the full list by Kevin Drum in March. So far I have read Robert Charles Wilson's Spin (loved it!), Charles Stross' Accelerando (hated it--couldn't finish it--almost unreadable) and now Old Man's War. Kevin hated Learning the World, by Ken MacLeod, but I may give it a chance. I also have no interest in reading A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin.

The winner was announced on August 27, 2006 in Los Angeles and Spin was the winner for Best Novel! John Scalzi received a special award (not considered a Hugo) called the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer sponsored by Dell Magazines.

Scalzi's work will remind you one of the great Grandmaster of Science Fiction: the oft-imitated Robert A. Heinlein.

Old Man's War has a killer set-up and an engaging hook. The set up is that the Colonial Defense Forces of Earth are using genetically re-engineered seventy-five year olds to fight battles for human-colonizable planets with other alien species. The hook is that the story is told from a first person perspective. Both these aspects are encapsulated in the novel's first paragraph: "I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife's grave. Then I joined the army."

One of the (obvious) defects of this story-telling device is that since the protagonist of the story is also in the center of all the action it becomes increasingly untenable for the reader to suspend disbelief in the plot. However, if one does suspend disbelief and just go along with the ride, Scalzi is able to sweep one away with the fast pace and carefree nature of his prose.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Governator Tries To Have It Both Ways

The Governator has finally vetoed or signed all of the 1,172 bills passed by the California legislature in its latest session. Mad Professah is particularly interested in the LGBT- and HIV-related legislation which went through the Governor's desk this session. Over the weekend the Los Angeles Times had a very useful list of the Governator's actions on prominent bills. Also, Equality California has a summary of the fourteen bills the organization has sponsored in the 2005-2006 legislative session (10 have been enacted, 4 were vetoed by the Governor).

AB 606 - Safe Place to Learn Act (vetoed by Schwarzenegger)
SB 1437 - Bias-Free Curriculum Act (vetoed by Schwarzenegger 9/6/2006)
SB 1827 - State Income Tax Equity Act of 2006
AB 2800 - Civil Rights Housing Act of 2006
AB 2920 - Older Californians Equality and Protection Act
SB 1441 - Nondiscrimination in State Programs and Activities
AB 2051 - Equality in Prevention and Services for Domestic Abuse Act
AB 1160 - Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act
AB 1207 - Code of Fair Campaign Practices
AB 849 - Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (vetoed by Schwarzenegger on 9/6/2005)
AB 866 - Code of Fair Campaign Practices (vetoed by Schwarzenegger
AB 1160 - Elimination of "Panic" Strategy in Criminal Trials (2 year bill)
AB 1400 - Civil Rights Act of 2005
SB 973 - Domestic Partner Pension Death Benefit Legislation
AB 1586 - Insurance Non-Discrimination Act You might notice there are actually fifteen bills listed. This is because Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed Fair Campaign Practices Act in 2005 "by mistake" and signed it into law in 2006.

It is actually a pretty impressive list of accomplishment for Equality California and the LGBT community. However there are at least two reasons Mad Professah can think of why it would be detrimental to the rights of the LGBT community if Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't lose the California gubernatorial election to Phil Angelides on November 7. First, one of the bills that Schwarzenegger vetoed was the historic AB 849, the first time a state legislature had passed a bill authorizing same sex marriage in the United States. This would have ended marriage discrimination in the largest state in the United States and had a dramatic impact on the rights of LGBT citizens not just in California but the rest of the country and possibly the world, IF a Democratic Governor had been in place and signed the bill into law.

Secondly, Schwarzenegger's actions on other issues that either disproportionately impact LGBT people or significant populations that the LGBT community is allied with. For example, on HIV/AIDS policy the Governor inexplicably vetoed AB 1677 (Koretz) which would have allowed non-profit organizations to distribute condoms and HIV awareness/education materials in California correctional facilities. This has a direct impact on the HIV rate among prisoners, who happen to be predominantly African American and Latino. And clearly any impact on the general HIV infection rate is of interest to the wider LGBT community. In addition to the AB 1677 veto, there are numerous other problematic actions taken by the Governor in his 261 other gubernatorial "smackdowns." He vetoed bills to allow school children to hear about the contributions of LGBT individuals (SB 1437), to allow California to enter a pact to override the Electoral College (AB 2948), to raise the minimum wage and index the increase to the inflation rate (AB 2536) and to increase penalties on employers who paid employees differently based on their sex or gender (AB 2555).

Plus, hello! He is a Republican. He campaigned for George W Bush in Ohio, which decided the final result of the 2004 election. That alone should make any self-respecting Democrat forget any bizarre impulse they might have to vote for the steroid-enhanced, former action movie star candidate for Governor.

The only way for him to get elected to a full four-year term (ending in January 2011!) is for him to attempt to have it both ways: he has to convince Republican voters that he shares their fiscally conservative values while not scaring Democratic voters that he doesn't share their concern for disenfranchised groups.

Don't believe the hype!

Souvenirs from Argentina Trip

Here is a picture of most of the stuff we picked up on the trip to Argentina and Uruguay over the last two weeks. I have uploaded more pictures from the trip to the Fotki website.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I'm baaack...

Just arrived back home after 21 hours travelling door to door from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles. More blogging later!


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