Monday, October 31, 2011

Eye Candy: James Guardino (reprise)

James Guardino is very famous for his appearances in the Undergear catalog. He is one of my favorite Eye Candy models of all time; he seems to never take a bad picture, regardless of the angle he is photographed at or what ridiculous undergarment he is modeling.

I was surprised to discover recently that James had only appeared on the blog once before, December 28, 2009.

I am very happy to rectify that situation by presenting these four images of James doing what he does so well: looking good!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Ariocarpus scaphirostris, surviving under the scree

Ariocarpus scaphirostris, extremely rare, occurring only on the Valley of Rayones, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. It is endangered by unscrupulous collectors... and by goats, which damage their habitat. This 2-inch plant is probably at least 8 years old -- minimum flowering age.
I was in the full throes of enthusiasm when I obtained this rather costly little plant. By enthusiasm I mean the old sense of divine inspiration, ecstasy or frenzy. This frenzy -- probably a dopamine buzz -- always grips me in the sales area at cactus and succulent plant shows. To my friends, I apologize if I seem dizzy or distracted. It's because my mind is bathed in an unseen, golden haze.

It's both embarrassing and enthralling to be an enthusiast -- almost any kind of enthusiast, but particularly a plant enthusiast. Embarrassing because it's so personal, so particular, so quaint, so... geeky. Enthralling because the object of our enthusiasm brings such immediate fascination, such transfixing attention, such passion.

As soon as you reveal a passion, you make yourself vulnerable -- this is true with any declaration of love. How much moreso with plants? For one thing, the love is always unrequited. And it's such an obscure, unusual love. It's a little like loving, say, mathematics. (Guilty!) And yet it's much more humble, more homely, almost banal... literally down in the dirt. Face it, you are out on a limb -- a plant limb -- and it feels awkward.
Same plant in full bloom 3 days later. In habitat, only the tips of the leaves (and flower) would be visible above the gypsum shale scree. (And yes, I just enjoy writing gypsum shale scree.)
Like most passions in life, if you have to explain it, no words will suffice; yet to another enthusiast, no words are necessary. The beauty of the forms, the plants' names and stories, the technical details of habitat and how to care for the plants -- these crossbeams interlock to build first a frame and then a fully furnished room in the house of one's life (or at least to take over the backyard... sorry honey!).

Today's plant, Ariocarpus scaphirostris (also spelled scapharostrus for historical reasons) is an obscure beauty -- literally obscure. In nature it spends its entire life hidden underground with only the tips of its tubercles exposed (those thick protuberances). And even its tubercles when dusty blend perfectly into the landscape, looking exactly like the shards of gypsum shale which litter its habitat.

This complete camouflage is demonstrated almost miraculously in -- of all things -- a YouTube video.

Ariocarpus scaphirostris is also obscure because it lives in such a limited area, only Valle de Rayones, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. This rare plant is endangered by collectors and, it turns out, by goats which range the slopes where it lives and damage the landscape. Luckily more and more folks in Mexico (and internationally) are coming to recognize the irreplaceable resource of Nuevo Leon's native plant life, including this almost invisible geophyte (plant living mostly underground).

Ariocarpus scaphirostris is vulnerable, but its outlook is improving modestly as passionate individuals raise its conservation profile in Mexico and the rest of the world. This plant is small, it's slow, it's difficult, and it's hard to come by. Most of the year it looks like twisted green rocks. But I think it's beautiful, and this was its first flower under my care.
Ariocarpus scaphirostris at
Ariocarpus scaphirostris at
Ariocarpus scaphirostris at Living Rocks of Mexico

Kvitova Wins WTA Championship, Clinches #2 Rank

Petra Kvitova put an exclamation point to her 2011 season by winning the WTA Tour Championship final match 7-5 4-6 6-3 against Victoria Azarenka in Istanbul and clinching the year end #2 spot in the WTA Tour rankings.

Kvitova won $1.75 million by winning every match she played against the world's top 8 players who qualified for the year-end championships, becoming the third player to win the title in her debut appearance (after Serena Williams in 2001 and Maria Sharapova in 2004). Last year at this time Kvitova was ranked #34 but that was before she went undefeated 18-0 in indoor match play and won the 2011 Wimbledon title. Kim Clijsters won last year's title over World #1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Azarenka won $775,000 and will end the year at a career high #3 but continues her elusive search for a major breakthrough title, never having reached a major final. She reached the final by defeating 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur and 2011 French Open champion Li Na but losing a dead-rubber 3-set battle with Marion Bartoli (who replaced Sharapova when she withdrew after losing her first two matches).

The championship match was one of the best of the year, with Kvitova starting by playing near-flawless, powerful tennis and rushing to a 5-0 lead in the first set, which she then squandered by losing the next 5 games through spraying errors and tough-minded playing by Azarenka. Kvitova was able to stop the errors and held the 11th game and was able to finally win the first set (on her 5th opportunity) 7-5. The second set was mainly not shown by ESPN, but clearly Azarenka stepped up her play and was able to squeeze out the set 6-4 on her first set point by with a backhand line-clipper winner. The first game of the third set was crucial. Kvitova served by went down 15-40, acing two breakpoints but was able to hold serve with some clutch serving and excellent movement. In the second game, Azarenka was ahead but managed to lose her serve and fell back 2-0. She never was in the position to take a lead for the rest of the match.

Wozniacki's fragile hold on the top spot should come to an end during the first quarter of 2012 as either Kvitova or Azarenka prove the superiority of "big babe" tennis.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Politics: Isadore Hall Outraises Both Incumbents in CA-44

Assemblyman Isadore Hall previously came to my attention because he announced he was interested in a run for Congress way back in June even before redistricting was complete which would have entailed him challenging a sitting African-American Congresswoman. Now that redistricting is complete, there is much drama in what is being called the 44th Congressional District because it contains most of U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson's old district but also contains pieces of the former 36th Congressional district which was won by former Los Angeles City councilmember Janice Hahn in a special election this July.

Now  U.S. Rep. Hahn has controversially decided to run in the 44th congressional district, a district specifically designed to be "majority-minority" against U.S. Rep. Laura Richardson and Assemblymember Hall, who are both African-Americans.

However, what is striking that this week came the news that in the last reporting period the state legislator out-raised both of his federal legislator rivals.

The National Journal reports:
Richardson’s been the subject of ethics questions recently: She’s accused of forcing her staff to work for and contribute to her campaign. She’s denied the allegations, but her fundraising dropped off in the third quarter, bringing in only $72,000 with just $116,000 in the bank. Hahn, after her special election, raised $139,000. A third Democrat, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, outraised them both with $158,000.
Very interesting. In the Los Angeles area there are a number of these intra-Democrat incumbent versus incumbent battles, the most amusing being Rep. Brad Sherman versus Rep. Howard Berman (in the new CA-30), who not only have similar sounding names but basically identical voting records.

Kvitova, Stosur, Zvonareva, Azarenka Make WTA Tour Finals

Caroline Wozniacki, #1 player in the world, failed
to make the semifinals of the WTA Tour Championships

The final tournament of the 2011 WTA season is underway in Istanbul, the WTA Tour Championships. Although Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams did not even qualify, and World #2 Maria Sharapova showed up not fully recovered from an ankle injury and withdrew (from a round-robin tournament!) after losing two matches in a row.

The once and future World #1, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark clinkched the year-end #1 spot for the second consecutive year despite never having won a major title, and this year she did not even reach the final of a major.

Despite being #1, Wozniacki was dispatched relatively easily by Petra Kvitova after splitting two hard-fought 3-set matches with Agnieska Radwanska and Vera Zvonareva. The hard-hitting Kvitova came through the round-robin rounds undefeated and Zvonareva squeaked into the last semifinal spot ahead of Wozniacki when Radwanska failed to win a set against Kvitova depite being up 5-1.

In the other half of the draw Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur, Li Na and Maria Sharapova (replaced by Marion Bartoli) fought it out for two spots with Stosur and Azarenka coming through to reach the semifinals.

2011 Wimbledon champ Kvitova will face 2011 US Open champ Stosur in one semifinal while Zvonareva faces Azarenka in the other.

MadProfessah predicts: Kvitova vs Azarenka in the final.

Friday, October 28, 2011

WATCH: Violent Anti-Gay High School Attack Caught On Video

This anti-gay attack happened in Union-Scioto High School in Chilicothe, Ohio, which has no anti-bullying legislation or hate crime law inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bully was apparently suspended for three days. As, Dan Savage says, "what does it take to get expelled?" For more information about who to contact to make sure this crime gets prosecuted by the authorities contact:
Chief Roger Moore 
28 North Paint Street  
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601 
Phone: (740) 773-1191
WonderMan has an update on his blog that charges are expected to be charged soon, but that the bully claims he has "mental problems" and "zoned out."

Celebrity Friday: Monroe and Moroccan Cannon

Mariah Carey and her husband Nick Cannon released pictures of their now 6-month old twins, Monroe Cannon and Moroccan Cannon this week by creating a website called The twins are adorable and hopefully will grow up not too scarred by having the most ridiculous celebrity baby names in recent history.

Go to to see even more pictures of Nick, Mariah and the twins.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Graphics Depict Gay Marriage Support 2001-2011

The Pew Forum has created these very useful slides depicting the public's change in opinion on marriage equality over the last decade.

Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress.

BOOK REVIEW: The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games trilogy is the highest profile series of young-adult novels after J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. I read the entire series (see my reviews of the last two books: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and saw all the movies (see my reviews for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Part 2 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

It's really not fair to compare the two series. For one thing, Harry Potter consists of seven books which are on average well over 500 pages each and take the main characters from a pre-teen innocence through teen-age angst and into full adulthood.

Here is how the author, Suzanne Collins, describes the Hunger Games:
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place. 
By definition, The Hunger Games is a much more violent series of books than the Harry Potter books. There are deaths in both, but in The Hunger Games it becomes almost routine. Also, the fact that Katniss is 16 years old when the books begin makes the possibility of sex (or at the very least romance) a very real possibility.

The story revolves around the characters, starting with Katniss Everdeen and her little sister Primrose. Katniss has been feeding her family since her medicine woman mother was greatly affected by the death of her husband and Katniss' father. The relationships which animate the main plots in The Hunger Games is the (love?) triangle between Katniss and Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne. Although love triangles have been done to death in all sorts of fiction, Collins comes up with some novel ways of handling the tension, especially since life and death situations become involved.

A Wikipedia article says that the themes of The Hunger Games are "government control, 'big brother,' and personal independence." I'm not sure that I would agree, I would say that a more precise description of  the main themes are "deception, independence and authoritarianism." Basically, authoritarianism includes both the "Big Brother" aspects of the Capitol and the governmental control that it encompasses throughout the 12 impoverished districts of Panem.

The plot of the first book is based around Katniss and Peeta's experience in the Hunger Games, where the rules are kill or be killed. Obviously, at least one of them survives because there are two more books. What happens is that the scope of the books expands, although they still center around the actions of Katniss, the true goal of Collins is to demonstrate not just the change to Katniss, but also to her hometown and her whole country.

Overall, all three books are well-written and Collins skillfully maintains suspense even while the reader is pretty sure any of the characters we care about will not be killed, the body count is high, and not everyone we care about survives to the end of the third book.

Title: The Hunger Games.
Suzanne Collins.
Paperback: 384 pages.
 Scholastic Press.
Date: September 14, 2008.

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


TitleCatching Fire.
Author: Suzanne Collins.

Paperback: 391 pages.
Publisher: Scholastic Press.

Date: September 1, 2009.

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


Title: Mockingjay.
Suzanne Collins.

Paperback: 400 pages.
 Scholastic Press.

Date: August 24, 2010.

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WATCH: Mo'nique Supports Marriage Equality

Denmark Set To Legalize Marriage Equality In 2012

Great news from Northern Europe! The Government of Denmark has announced that it intends to legalize marriage equality in the next year or so.

The government is planning to propose legislation at the beginning of the year, the Copenhagen Postreports. Manu Sareen, the coalition government's church minister, said he hopes to see same-sex marriages legalized in the Church of Denmark by Spring 2012.
Currently, gay couples are allowed to join together through "registered partnerships," a civil union, theCopenhagen Post points out. Denmark was the first country to legalize civil unions in 1989, but the couples still cannot marry in the Church of Denmark.
"I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I'll be standing out there throwing rice," Sareen told Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper.
Danish political parties are reportedly "extremely gay friendly," and many officials took part in the discussion to allow same-sex weddings in the church, an August article in the Copenhagen Postexplains. 
Scotland and England are both considering same-sex legislation for next year, but like other countries, officials there have faced opposition, namely from the Catholic Church, ATV Today reports.
May 2011 article in the Copenhagen Post indicates that about 75 percent of Danes support same-sex marriages through the church. Religious leaders acknowledge the public's support for gay marriage and have expressed that a compromise -- such as a "specific marriage ritual for homosexual couples" -- might be the way to go.
This is very cool but unsurprising news. Then again, the more countries that legalize marriage equality make the progressive change more and more inevitable.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zimbabwe PM Endorses Gay Rights

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe
Surprising news out of Africa about homosexuality. The Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai has reversed himself and taken a position in opposition to President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe on whether LGBT rights should be protected under law.

The BBC reports:
Mr Tsvangirai told BBC's Newsnight programme that there was a "very strong cultural feeling" against homosexuality in Zimbabwe, but he would defend gay rights if he became president.

"It's a very controversial subject in my part of the world. My attitude is that I hope the constitution will come out with freedom of sexual orientation, for as long as it does not interfere with anybody," he told Newsnight's Gavin Esler.
"To me, it's a human right," he said.
Zimbabwe's long-time leader Mr Mugabe - a practising Christian - once said gays were "worse than pigs and dogs", sparking international condemnation.
In March 2010, Mr Tsvangirai said gay rights was not up for discussion in Zimbabwe.
This is excellent news.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Eye Candy: Filipe for MundoMais

There used to be a great Brazilan website called "The Boy" where I first found pictures of 2-time Eye Candy model  Rodrigo Guillherme, for example. Sadly, that site has gone away but the website MundoMais is around and it also has pictures of stunningly beautiful (is that redundant?) Brazilian guys, wearing very little clothing.

The first guy there to catch my eye on MundoMais was Filipe. The nice thing about MundoMais is that they have literally dozens of shots of their models, in various states of undress (for free) and more shots of them unclothed (behind a pay wall).

So, I chose these three pictures to show you what Filipe looks like. His description (transalted from Portuguese by Google) says "He has23 years of age, is the sign of Cancer , loves sports and has lived in Salvador."

And now he is this week's Eye Candy model. If you like what you see, stop by MundoMais and check out Filipe and the other models.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

SUCCULENT SUNDAY: Echinopsis schieliana, upturned birds' nests waving fancy red frocks

When I bought this Lobivia schieliana (syn Echinopsis schieliana), it had no flowers or buds. I got it for the wonderful spines, which turn the rounded (globose) stems of the plant into little inverted birds' nests. It was a homely beauty, a miniature sculpture of meticulously attached pieces of straw spun into whorls. It was in fact a perfect example of a particular cactus aesthetic: curious, ugly-as-beautiful — the implicit danger of spines, tamed by culture... and in this case, by the plant's tendency to use its defensive spines as horny shield rather than stabbing weapons.

And then... out of nowhere... the blooms. Shocking red, raised above the body of the plant on narrow tubes — the better to be seen by their dancing partners... hummingbirds? Much as I want to write about my other strange cacti — exquisite snowy globes or pineapples with spines like bouquets of grass — I can't ignore these flowers any better than the hummingbirds can.

PS One of the... I say THE... references on cactus just arrived in the mail and I'm very excited: The Cactus Family (2001) by Edward F. Anderson. He writes,

Echinopsis schieliana (Backeburg) D. R. Hunt 1987
Lobivia schieliana Backeberg 1957, L. backeburgii subsp. schieliana (Backeburg) G. D. Rowley 1982 Lobivia quiabayensis Rausch 1968, Echinopsis maximiliana subsp. quiabayensis (Rausch) G. D. Rowley 1982 Lobivia leptacantha Rausch 1972

Plants often forming clusters from basal branching. Stems globose to cylindrical, often slender, to 4.5 cm (1.8 in) long and 3.5 cm (1.4 in) in diameter. Ribs about 14. Central spine one, often absent at first, bent downward, light brown, 5–6 mm (0.2 in) long. Radial spines about 14, pectinate to radiating, interlacing, light brown. Flowers bright light red; floral tubes slender. Distribution: Peru and Bolivia.

Monfils Beats Nieminen For 1st 2011 Title

Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images
Frenchman Gael Monfils won his first title of 2011 in Stockholm today by beating Finnish lefty Jarkko Nieminen 7-5 3-6 6-2. Monfils is ranked #10  in the world but has only won 4 career ATP despite playing in 16 ATP Tour finals.

Who's Oppressing Who?

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Feingold Endorses Baldwin For Senate

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has announced that he is endorsing openly gay Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to become the next U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.

Feingold has long been an advocate for strong Wall Street reform and cleaning up corporations -- he opposed the Dodd-Frank legislation because it didn't go far enough and called on Democrats to stop taking corporate contributions.
The only other non-incumbent endorsement Feingold has made in 2012 is his backing of Elizabeth Warren, who is running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. In his email endorsement of Warren, Feingold also stressed that she "stood up against the Wall Street wish list of a bankruptcy bill" and would "keep fighting for middle class families on Capitol Hill."
"Tammy is a true progressive champion, one of the strongest fighters for working families our state has ever produced and a hero to those of us who believe in breaking barriers and eliminating injustice in our society," adds Feingold, who also asks supporters to contribute to the Baldwin campaign. "I was proud to call her a colleague as we fought together in Washington for Wisconsin families -- and I’ll be proud to call her my Senator."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Another Promise Kept: Obama Ends Iraq War

Celebrity Friday: Zachary Quinto Comes Out

Zachary Quinto played Spock in J.J. Abrams' re-boot of Star Trk
Zachary Quinto, 34, is an actor best known for playing the hero/villain on the once wildly popular television series Heroes and inhabiting the role of Spock in J.J. Abrams re-boot of Star Trek (see my A- review).

But this week he makes news by revealing his long-rumored sexual orientation. Zach is gay!
Last year, the Times, in profiling him forAngels, noted that “the blogosphere is rife with speculation about his sexuality” but that “he prefers not to feed the rumor mill with either substantiation or dismissal.” That has changed. A little while later in our conversation, speaking of the cultural bipolarity that can see gay marriage legalized in New York in the same year that yet another gay teenager, Jamey Rodemeyer, was bullied and killed himself, Quinto says, “And again, as a gay man I look at that and say there’s a hopelessness that surrounds it, but as a human being I look at it and say ‘Why? Where’s this disparity coming from, and why can’t we as a culture and society dig deeper to examine that?’ We’re terrified of facing ourselves.”
Hmmm, I hope this doesn't impact his career negatively. (I doubt it will.) I'm also curious about his Star Trek co-star (who played the other pivotal role of James T. Kirk), Chris Pine, and has gone on to co-star in films with big stars like Denzel Washington in Unstoppable. Pine still has no "personal information" in his Wikipedia page, while Quinto's contains the fact that he is now out as a gay man.

Why The Occupy Wall Street Movement Is Growing

CEO steals $3,000,000,000 and gets sentenced to 40-months. (Black) homeless guy steals $100 (and turns himself in) and gets sentenced to 15 years. (Hat/tip to RaganFox)

And you wonder why people are marching in the streets??

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Analysis of Herman Cain' 9-9-9 Scheme

Hat/tip to Andrew Sullivan

FOOD REVIEW: Golden State Cafe (Los Angeles, CA)

One of the candidates for best burger in Los Angeles is the burger at the Golden State Cafe in the Beverly/Fairfax section of Los Angeles. I wasn't really intending to do a review of the place, I just stopped by to satisfy a craving for a burger after winning a tennis match. It had been on my list of places to try for quite awhile due to some suggestions on Yelp.

Golden State Cafe did not disappoint. "The Burger" ($11) is excellent. It comes with glazed applewood smoked bacon, Fascilini Farms cheddar, arugula, aioli, ketchup and is made with Harris Ranch beef. I had mine cook medium-rare and it was perfect: definitely cooked, but with some pink at the center and quite juicy.

The fries that com with these "high end" burgers are usually something of an after thought it seems. The fries at Golden State Cafe that come with the burger are good, but not exceptional (unlike the fries at Juicy Burger, which overwhelm the burger, or the amazing fries at Blue Dog Beer Tavern).

Interestingly, Golden State Cafe also serves specials that do not involve burgers as well. I think I would go back (if I was in the area) to check out the other things on their menu.

Location: 426 N. Fairfax Ave Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Contact: 323-782-8331.
Visit: August 10, 2011.

FOOD: A-. 

OVERALL: A- (3.583/4.0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WATCH: Cory Booker Supports Marriage Equality

Names Of Referendum 71 Signers Released

Finally! After losing a Supreme Court decision Doe v. Reed last year, the heterosexual supremacists who forced the voters of Washington State to vote on whether that state's comprehensive domestic partnership law should go into effect have lost their battle to keep secret the names of the voters who signed the petitions to get the measure on the ballot.

A federal judge ordered the state of Washington to release the names on Monday, and the Secretary of State released a DVD with 138, 000 names of petitioners to the press.

The 138,000 people who signed petitions to force a vote on a 2009 domestic partnership law are unlikely to face harassment if their names are disclosed a judge said Friday while ordering the release of signatures.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle said the petitioners who advocated for privacy provided only a few experiences of indecent statements and other uncomfortable conversations. Also, there was only speculation that those incidents were connected to the issue, he said.
Disclosure would become the exception, rather than the rule, if just a few instances of harassment were used as the standard for preventing the release of names, Settle said.
And the heterosexual supremacists lost the referendum campaign in 2009 as well. Washington voters approved the referendum (upheld Washington's comprehensive domestic partnership law) and it has been in effect since November 2009.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vermont: Marriage Equality Activist Appointed To Supreme Court

Beth Robinson, 46, was co-counsel in the landmark Baker case
which led to Vermont civil unions
Democratic Governor Pete Shumlin has appointed celebrated openly lesbian lawyer Beth Robinson to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Keen News Service reports:

“It’s a huge privilege and honor for me,” said Shumlin, in a press conference, “to be able to announce I’ve selected Beth Robinson to serve on the Vermont Supreme Court.”
“Beth has extraordinary integrity,” said Shumlin. “She is one of the most decent, fair, hard-working and bright people in this great state…. There is no one I know in Vermont who is more able to carry out justice for Vermonters, to be fair and clear, and promote the greatness of this state than Beth Robinson.”
Robinson has been serving as Shumlin’s chief legal counsel since he took office in January. Prior to that, she was a lawyer in private practice.
Though she keeps a relatively low profile when it comes to publicity, Robinson has played a key role in the litigation and organization surrounding the historic achievement of the nation’s first civil unions law in Vermont in 2000, and the legislature’s passage of marriage equality nine years later.
This is incredible news! It is astonishing how the number of openly LGBT people on state supreme courts is increasing from the less-than-a-handful from a few years ago to more than a half-dozen now.

Murray Wins Shanghai Title; Becomes World #3

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
Andy Murray continued his post-US Open 15-match winning streak by defeating David Ferrer 7-5 6-4 to defend his Shanghai Masters title and surge past Roger Federer to #3 in the ATP Tour rankings. Federer falls to #4, the lowest he has been in the rankings since he first won his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2003.

Murray has won the last three tournament he has entered and now has 21 ATP Tour titles in his career including 8 Masters series titles, the most by any active player who has yet to win a Grand Slam, and more than several former players who did win a slam (Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Marat Safin to name a few).

The other big news in Shanghai was Rafael Nadal's shocking loss in the 3rd round which cemented Novak Djokovic's hold on the World #1 spot through the end of the year despite the Serbian not having played a tour match since winning the 2011 US Open.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Eye Candy: Ulisses Williams (reprise)

Natural bodybuilder Ulisses Williams has been one of the most popular Eye Candy models on for years. So I decided that he should probably make a second appearance depicting his incredibly ripped physique and dark chocolate skin.

I can see why "y'all" like him, I do as well!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Succulent Sunday follow-up: Mammillaria hernandezii blooming

Revisiting Mammillaria hernandezii in October, this time in bloom

On a recent Succulent Sunday we saw Mammillaria hernandezii. I wrote about its relatively large, purple-pink flowers, but since a picture is worth at least as many words as I wrote, here's a follow-up. This was the first flower; if you look closely you can see the conical buds for more flowers to come. Also see how the smaller head has grown much larger in 3 months.

The same plant(s) from back in July. Besides the bloom, notice how much smaller the second head was.

Lithops spp: stolid prima donnas, down-to-earth yet delicate

Lithops sp, tentatively L marmorata, on 2nd day of bloom.
The largest body here is under 2 inches at its widest.
When you walk down the aisle of a plant show or even a nursery department in a big-box store, certain succulents reach out and knock you over. They barely look like plants. In fact, sometimes it's hard to believe they're even alive. Lithops are tiny but they fall into this drop-dead category.

With a name from the Greek for stone and eye or face, Lithops or "Living Stones" are small plants native to the dry Western Cape region of Southern Africa. They are in the same family (Aizoiaceae) as ice plants, also originally from Southern Africa and spread the world over by human travel and other transport.

Unlike their ice plant cousins, cultivated for centuries and easy to care for, Lithops are widely known only since the 1950s (with the collecting and cataloging work of Desmond and Naureen Cole). Not only did they emerge from obscurity recently — they also have a reputation for being somewhat difficult for amateur cacti and succulents growers. (I have killed quite a few of them, and the Lithops flowers pictured are some of my first.) Lithops are adapted to a dry existence, and if watered too much or at the wrong time they can succumb quickly to that omnipresent nemesis of succulent fanciers: rot.

PhotobucketLithops care is less of a puzzle once you learn a basic lesson about about their special needs in winter: briefly, don't feed or water them. They are not truly dormant, but they are busy with a small, vital, inner task: growing a new leaf pair in the center of the plant. As the new pair (or pairs) grow, they absorb the nutrients from the previous year's pair. The outer pair shrivels and the inner pair (or pairs) emerges from the seam between the two dying leaves. If you water them during this period, you risk rotting the plant or preventing the outer leaves from being absorbed. Even if the plant survives, this can lead to a misshapen and unnatural look, living blobs instead of neat roundish tiles.

Mid-October, the time of this post, is prime time for Lithops flowers. They like to make hay while the sun still shines.


Lithops gallery 

Cole, Desmond; Cole, Naureen (2005). Lithops—Flowering Stones. Cactus & Co. 368 pages (20.7 × 29.5 cm), 644 col. + 5 b/w photos, 3 col. + 85 b/w drawings, 7 maps, 98 habitat photos. ISBN-10 88-900511-7-5. ISBN-13 978-88-900511-7-3

Hammer, Steven (2010). Lithops: Treasures of the Veld. 2nd Edition. BCCS. Softbound; 156 pages; 238 photos. ISBN-10: 0902099922. ISBN-13: 978-0902099920.

Shimada, Yasuhiko (2001). The Genus Lithops. Dobun Shoin. 240 pages (19 × 26.5 cm), 437 col. photos, 1 b/w map. ISBN-10 4-8103-4066-X.

Obama Well Ahead Of Rivals In 2012 Money Race

It should also be noted that these amounts shown here raised by the 2012 presidential candidates do not include the nearly $28 million more President Obama raised that went directly to the Democratic National Committee. None of the money raised by the Republican candidates is going to the Republican National Committee. In the previous quarter, President Obama raised a record $86 million ($47 for his own campaign and $38 million for the DNC).

Joe.My.God posted the numbers shown above before the Bachmann and Gingrich campaigns had filed their reports.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Maryland Poll Shows Close Split On Marriage Equality

A recent poll of Marylanders shows that they are closely split on whether marriage equality should be the law of the Free State.

The Washington Post reports on the new poll:

The Gonzales poll found 48 percent of Marylanders who vote regularly favor a law allowing same-sex marriages, while 49 percent of that population are against allowing same-sex marriages.
There is a notable difference based on race. Fifty-one percent of white voters approve, compared to 41 percent of African-American voters. Meanwhile, 46 percent of white voters disapprove, compared to 59 percent of African Americans.
The opinion of voters could become particularly relevant if a same-sex marriage bill passes this session.
Opponents have vowed to take advantage of a provision in the state Constitution that allows citizens to petition just-passed laws to the ballot. With enough signatures, same-sex marriage would be subject to a statewide vote in November 2012.
This poll just goes to show tat just enacting a marriage equality law in Maryland will be less than half the battle, making sure that there is popular support for the measure, and that it goes into effect before a ballot battle is even more important. As things stand now, the good guys would lose the marriage equality battle at the ballot box in Maryland.

Nadal Loses in Shanghai; Djokovic Clinches #1

Novak Djokovic has clinched the year-end #1 spot for the first time thanks to World #2 Rafael Nadal's shocking loss at the Shanghai Masters in the third round to Florian Mayer. Djokovic has been ranked #1 since July 4, 2011.

The ATP reports:

The 24-year-old Belgrade native is the first Serbian man to finish No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973). It also marks a record eighth straight year a European is the No. 1 player on the ATP World Tour. For seven years from 1985-91, Europeans finished No. 1.
Djokovic is the first player other than Roger Federer (2004-07, ‘09) or Rafael Nadal (2008, ’10) to finish No. 1 since American Andy Roddick in 2003.
En route to a 64-3 match record, he has captured a record five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in a season, in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and Montreal. He has also compiled a 20-2 mark vs. Top 10 opponents, defeating rivals Nadal six times and Federer four times so far in 2011.
Djokovic becomes the 16th person in the history of the ATP rankings to end the year at #1.


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