Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Utah AG Files Emergency Stay Request With SCOTUS; Next Action 1/3/14

As expected the state of Utah, as represented by the brand new Attorney General Sean Reyes, has filed an emergency stay request with Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor to halt the issuance of
marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the Beehive state. You can read the 26-page filing here.

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed reports:
The filing, an application to stay judgment pending appeal, was filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who can decide the motion on her own or refer it to the entire court to decide. 
The lawyers for Utah first argue that the Supreme Court would be likely to accept the case, Kitchen v. Herbert, on appeal should it — currently on appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals — later be appealed to them. 
Then, the lawyers argue that they are likely to succeed on appeal and that the Dec. 20 ruling for U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby will be overturned.
It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court agrees to stay the district court ruling during the appellate process. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court has already issued an incredibly fast schedule for hearing the appeal whereby briefing will be completed by February 25, 2014 barely 2 months after the initial district court ruling in December 20. (In contrast, the 9th U.S. Circuit took nearly 18 months to issue its appeal of the district court's ruling striking down Proposition 8.)

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

WATCH: 2013's Top Hits Mashed Together in "Pop Danthology"

Hat/tip to NPR

Monday, December 30, 2013

Partisanship in State Legislatures At All-Time High

The Washington Post has a fascinating story in the Sunday paper which documents the increased partisanship at the state legislative level. In 37 states a single party completely controls the levers of power: 23 states are controlled by Republicans and 14 are controlled by Democrats (12 states have split control and Nebraska has a nonpartisan unicameral).
The values that underpin these governing strategies reflect contrasting political visions, and the differences can be seen in stark terms in the states. In a red state such as Texas, government exists mostly to get out of the way of the private sector while holding to traditional social values. In blue states such as California and Maryland, government takes more from taxpayers, particularly the wealthy, to spend on domestic priorities while advancing a cultural agenda that reflects the country’s growing diversity. 
Control in the states today is more closely aligned with voting patterns in presidential elections than in the days when conservative Democrats dominated state and local elections in the South and moderate Republicans held greater sway in the North. 
Karl Kurtz, a political scientist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, noted in an article published this year that Republicans control both houses of the legislatures in 22 of the 24 states carried by Mitt Romney in 2012 and that Democrats hold majorities in 18 of the 26 states won by Obama. 
The eight Obama states that have full or partial Republican control are or recently have been presidential battlegrounds. These are Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
It's an interesting article. It will be very easy to take stock of the partisanship tally at the end of the 2014 midterm elections.

WATCH: Compilation of 2013 in Movies

Hat/tip to Awards Daily

ABC's Robin Roberts Comes Out Via Facebook

Robin Roberts, the ABC television personality who famously interviewed President Barack Obama last year when he finally endorsed marriage equality, has come out herself as in a longtime relationship with a woman, in a public Facebook post.
Flashback 12/29/12....Hard to believe this was 1 year ago today..when I reached a critical milestone of 100 days post transplant...and KJ was finally allowed to come back home.

Reading this comforts me and I hope the same for you: "If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present."

At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude.

I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health.

I am grateful for my sister, Sally-Ann, for being my donor and giving me the gift of life.

I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.

I am grateful for the many prayers and well wishes for my recovery. I return every one of them to you 100 fold.

On this last Sunday of 2013 I encourage you to reflect on what you are grateful for too.

Wishing you a Healthy and Happy New Year.

Peace, love, and blessings to all..XO
Gawker reported at the time that Roberts hesitated to do the Obama interview because she might be outed as a lesbian. Joe.My.God reports that Roberts girlfriend's name is Amber Laign, a massage therapist. The two have been together for around ten years.

Congratulations on coming out, Robin. Better late than never, I guess! I wonder who will be the biggest celebrity to come out in 2014? To jog your memory, here's an interesting list of the Top 50 coming out stories of 2013 from TowleRoad.

Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress

EYE CANDY: Jacob Sumana

Jacob Sumana is a 23-year-old fitness model from Copenhagen, Denmark. He has active Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages, along with  a comprehensive website, jacobsumana.com.
According to his Model Mayhem page, he is 6'2" tall and weighs 230 pounds.

I hope we will be seeing more of him (literally!) in the next year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

QUEER QUOTE: Albuquerque Journal Says Leave Marriage Equality Alone

As you may recall, the New Mexico Supreme Court clarified on December 19th that under New Mexico's constitution same-sex couples must be allowed to marry like their opposite-sex counterparts. The court's ruling in Griego v. Oliver claimed that not doing so was not sex discrimination, but it was a violation of the fundamental right to marry and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The news was somewhat overshadowed by a federal judge striking down Utah's ban on same-sex couples being allowed to marry the very next day but New Mexico becoming the 17th state to have marriage equality is significant.

Soon after the decision went into effect there came rumblings that Republican legislators wanted to overturn the decision by amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

Today's Queer Quote is Albuquerque's largest newspaper telling the state's politicians to leave marriage equality alone since the issue has been resolved by the courts:
If legalizing same-sex marriage had been put to New Mexico voters as a constitutional amendment – a route favored by Gov. Susana Martinez, who opposes such unions – it most likely would have passed. And that would have been the best route. A vote of the people circumvents the argument about the role of “activist judges.”
But courts decide controversies that come before them and that’s what they did in this case. The state high court’s ruling, affirming rulings by trial judges in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, balances the interests of gay people who want to marry and the religious interests of those who oppose it. That makes sense in predominantly Catholic New Mexico. Meanwhile, voters who think district judges and Supreme Court justices overstepped the role the courts should play can register their displeasure in the next judicial retention elections. That also is their right.
But when it comes to the Legislature, opponents who have vowed to continue the fight by seeking an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman should start the new year by letting it go.
Their only chance of success is the unlikely scenario of a constitutional amendment clearing the Legislature, winning voter approval and surviving a legal challenge. Gay marriage opponents who continue this fight will succeed only in fanning the flames of hostility and resentment. And then what happens with all the same-sex marriages on the books?
The state Supreme Court has concluded that all people, no matter their sexual orientation, should be treated equally under the law when it comes to the right to marry. It’s time to recognize that and move on.

Roger Federer Releases 2014 ATP Tour Schedule

Roger Federer has released his 2014 schedule. Hopefully I will be able to see Roger in person (up close!) sometime in 2014 like I was able to do in 2013. I am thinking of perhaps visiting the Cincinnati and/or Toronto tournaments. I will almost certainly be at the Indian Wells tournament again in 2014.
30. December 2013 - 05. January 2014
Australian Open
13. - 26. January
24. February - 02. March
Indian Wells
03. - 16. March
17. - 30. March
05. - 11. May
12. - 18. May
Roland Garros
26. May - 08. June
09. - 15. June
23. June - 06. July
04. - 10. August
11. - 17. August
US Open
25. August - 07. September
06. - 12. October
18. - 26. October
27. October - 02. November
Hat/tip to Sports Illustrated 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ender's Game Movie Unlikely To Make Profit

The movie adaptation of Ender's Game, based on the book by notorious homophobic science-fiction author Orson Scott Card has basically completed its box-office run with a gross of just over $60 million domestically ($85 million worldwide) and it appears as if it will not make back its production budget of $110 million.

Ender's Game is a classic of science fiction, one of the rare books to win both top prizes in the genre, the Nebula and the Hugo. For that reason, I was interested in seeing the film, but ended up not doing so, primarily because the reviews indicated it simply was not good, not because of the gay geek-led boycott intended to punish Card for his virulent homophobia. However, many reports indicated that Card would not make any movie regardless of how successful it was. So in my view the boycott was ill-advised.

However, Card is making money on the sale of the book, which has been at the top of the New York Times paperback list.
If you want to punish Card, don't buy the book. However, at least the failure of the film makes it clear that there will not be any sequels, for which Card might have been able to negotiate more profit participation and also sell more books.

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

Friday, December 27, 2013

Obama Signs Defense Bill Repealing Military Sodomy Prohibition

Good news! Even though "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (the federal law banning open homosexuality in the U.S. armed forces) was repealed more than three years ago, the military still prohibited sodomy between servicemembers in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law earlier this week and it contained multiple gay-related provisions, the most prominent being a repeal of the military's sodomy law.
In 2011, Democratic legislators tried to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but the effort was defeated after conservative groups accused them of trying to legalize sexual abuse of animals. This time around, Senate Democrats, including Colorado Senator Mark Udall, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire offered a proposal that would alter the language so as to keep bans on “forcible sodomy” and “bestiality” while decriminalizing consensual sexual activity between gays and lesbians. 

The new proposal met little resistance, even in the Republican-controlled House, and even among legislators who just three years ago opposed allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
This is excellent news for LGBT people in the military and another victory in the kulturkampf for the champions of equality. Now there is nowhere in society where gay sex is criminalized, although it is still stigmatized socially.

Interestingly, the other gay-related provisions address another stigma: the criminalization of HIV-positive people.

The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson reports:
Additionally, under Section 572, the legislation directs the Pentagon to submit a report to Congress no later than 180 days after the bill is signed into law on personnel policies regarding service members with HIV or Hepatitis B.  The bill directs the Pentagon to include a description of the policies as well as related retention, deployment and disciplinary actions as well as an assessment of whether these policies are evidence-based and medically accurate.
According to the LGBT military group SPART*A, service members become non-deployable once they’re discovered to have HIV; can’t commission as an officer or warrant officer; can’t fly aircraft or work in any jobs requiring a flight physical; are restricted to stateside duty assignments (with the exception of the Navy); and are not eligible for special schools such as Ranger, Special Forces or other special ops jobs.
Thompson said the provision is welcome because it will examine whether the military’s current HIV policy is appropriate or outdated.
“This review is welcome and overdue because many of our laws, policies, and regulations regarding HIV were written at a time when we knew far less about the routes and risks of HIV transmission, and prior to the development of effective HIV treatment,” [ACLU Legislative Representative Ian] Thompson said.
Legislative action dealing with the stigmatization of HIV and HIV-positive people is something that I think will be more common in the near future. Since the "AIDS panic" days of the 1980s and early 1990s there are some horrendous and draconian laws on the books around the country.

I'm glad to see there is some positive movement towards decriminalizing HIV, since it has a disparate impact on gay men.

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Federers Expecting 3rd Child In 2014

The Roger Federer and his wife Mirka have announced (via Twitter) that they are expecting a 3rd child sometime in 2014. Their twin girls, Charlene Riva and Myla Rose were born July 23, 2009.
Congratulations, Roger and Mirka!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Serena Williams Named AP Female Athlete of the Year (for 3rd time)

Serena Williams was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for her amazing 2013 season where she won her 16th and 17th major titles (2013 French Open, 2013 U.S. Open), 9 other WTA tour titles and lost only four times (compared to 78 wins).

It was the 3rd time that Serena won the AP award, following excellent seasons in 2009 and 2002 (both of which were years she also ended the season ranked #1.

According to the WTA, Serena also set two important all-time records in 2013: becoming the oldest #1 ranked player and the single-season prize money total of $12,385,572.

The only question now is will Serena be able to repeat her success in 2014? I would not be surprised if she wins another 2 majors in 2014, and possibly more.

FILM REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Other Half and I kicked off our annual end-of-year moviegoing season with Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is the second film in the trilogy of movies which are a film adaptation of The Hobbit, the young-adult book that is a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. Last year we saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which generally was viewed by most as unnecessarily long. Many fans of the books and the movies are scandalized that Jackson is turning one (frankly, not very long) book into three relatively long movies.

We saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena, not in 3-D or HFR but just regular 2-D.

The interesting difference between The Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings movies is that the former is based around dwarves as the main characters. This is useful because hobbits and dwarves are supposed to be about the same (short) height and so there are much fewer odd height juxtapositions in these films. However, there are some characters from the first series of films that also appear in the second: Legolas (Orlando Bloom), Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and, Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), VERY briefly.

The key character in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is of course, Smaug, the dragon. Amusingly, Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch (of Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness fame) while Martin Freeman (who plays Watson to Cumberbatch's Sherlock) plays Bilbo Baggins, the sole hobbit member of the dwarf expedition to reclaim their treasure stolen by Smaug.

The second edition in the The Hobbit trilogy is significantly better than the first. The action is sharper and the story more focused. Another positive addition to the film is the character of Tauriel played by Evangeline Lilly, a fierce elf that we meet in Mirkwood, the dark, enchanted forest our heroes have to get through in order to reach the Lonely Mountain.

Once they do finally get to the Mountain and encounter Smaug the action does tend to drag on a little and then the film suddenly ends without the quest having been resolved. For that, we will have to wait until next year's The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

TitleThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Director: Peter Jackson.
Running Time: 2 hours, 41 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.
Release Date: December 13, 2013.
Viewing Date: December 20, 2013.

Writing: A.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A+.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: A (4.0/4.0).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

10th Circuit Refuses To Stop Utah Marriage Equality!

Well, well! The other shoe has dropped and now (for the 3rd time!) the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Utah's request for a stay of last Friday's order declaring the Beehive's Amendment 3 banning same-sex marriage illegal.

This means that same-sex marriages will be allowed to occur while the appeal is considered by the 10th Circuit, which could take 12-18 months. It is likely that Utah will appeal the request for a stay to Justice Sona Sotomayor  who would likely forward the matter to the full Supreme Court.

US State Dept Releases Statement on Uganda Anti-Gay Measure

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release                                                                                       December 24, 2013


U.S. Concern with Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Legislation

We are deeply concerned by the Ugandan Parliament’s passage of anti-homosexuality legislation.  As Americans, we believe that people everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality – and that no one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or whom they love.  We join those in Uganda and around the world who appeal for respect for the human rights of LGBT persons and of all persons.
# # #

QUEER QUOTE: Queen Elizabeth Pardons Alan Turing

Great news! Openly gay genius Alan Turing, widely regarded as the Father of Computer Science, World War II hero for breaking the German's code, one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century, has had his conviction of 'gross indecency' (for having sex with another man in 1952) pardoned by the Queen of England.

Queen Elizabeth said:
"[We are] graciously pleased to extend Our Grace and Mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and to grant him Our Free Pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions."
It's about time!

Best Women's Tennis Matches of 2013

Here are my picks for the "best" (or most memorable) tennis matches played by women in 2013. These are basically the matches that had the most impact on me while they were occurring, feature some of the best play or the most amazing shots, had the biggest impact on the rest of the tennis season or are matches that I would most likely to watch again in the future. 

I have previously compiled lists of the Best Women's Tennis Matches for 2005200620072009 and 2010, and 2011, skipping last yearI have also compiled lists of the Best Men's Tennis Matches for 2012201120102009 and 2006. These lists can all be accessed at my MadProfessah.com under the Tennis tab which also contains my coverage of the four major tournaments.

1.  S. Williams USA d. V. Azarenka BLR, 7-5 6-7(1) 6-1, U.S. Open final, New York City.
Exactly one year after they met in the finals of the US Open the two top players in the world faced off again. In the 2012 final, Azarenka had led 5-3 in the deciding 3rd set and looked like she was going to become the first person since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to lose the first set of the US Open final and win the title. It was also the first time since 1995 that the women's final was extended to three sets. Amazingly, for the second year in a row the women's championship match was three sets long although during the match itself it didn't seem like that was going to happen. After all, Serena had dominated the tour to that point, only losing four matches all year, but two of those were to Azarenka, on hard courts no less. This made the match-up between these two on this important stage a matter of great interest and import.

The first set was a difficult, nervy affair with extremely windy conditions that negatively impacted play. Serena was able to sneak out the first set with a surprising break in the 11th game and served out the set. Serena was up 4-1 and 5-3 in the second set when, amazingly, Azarenka was able to come back and force a tiebreak, which she won easily as a distressed Serena sprayed the ball and made repeated errors in the face of the Belarussian's powerful defense. Most people expected a hard-fought third set reminiscent of the 2012 final but instead Azarenka was only able to manage one service hold and was routed relatively quickly. This time when Serena was up 4-1 she maintained her focus and earned the insurance break but was also able to hold her own nerve and serve out the match to claim her 17th major title. It was the longest women's final (165 minutes) in 34 years, even though for the last 25 minutes or so the result was not really in doubt.

2.  V. Azarenka BLR d. N. Li CHN, 4-6 6-4 6-3, Australian Open final, Melbourne.
This was one of the strangest championship matches in recent history. It featured not one but two freak occurrences when Li Na injured herself by twisting her ankle (twice!). Li, who after the match said she could not remember if she had ever fallen to the court in a competitive match fell to the court twice during this, match, her 3rd career major final. For most of the match the Chinese player was the better player but the the defending champion's steadiness and mental toughness saw her through to the finish line. Without a doubt it was one of the most dramatic matches of the year and most memorable, even if the quality of play was not always at its best. There were definitely moments, particularly in the first set, where the tennis was simply sublime.

3.  S. Lisicki GER d. S. Williams USA, 6-2 1-6 6-4, Wimbledon 4th Round, London.
Serena Williams is a 5-time Wimbledon champion and has appeared in the final 8 times since 2002. She and her sister Venus are clearly the best grass court players of their generation. However, Sabine "Boom Boom" Lisicki loves the grass court major and has always played her best tennis at SW19. With a huge serve and heavy forehand, she is a formidable opponent on this surface which rewards power. In fact, by winning this match Lisicki achieved the curious result of having defeated four consecutive reigning French Open champions in her last four appearances at Wimbledon: defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009,  Li Na in 2011Maria Sharapova in 2012 and  Serena Williams in 2013(Lisicki did not play Wimbledon in 2010.) This was a curious match because Serena had won 34 matches in a row at this point and had looked very sharp during the tournament. After easily winning the first set and looking awful in the second set, Serena was up 3-0 in the final set (only one break) but clearly got surprisingly tight when it mattered, playing fearfully instead of fearlessly. Lisicki never lost her belief that she could win the match, and eventually, that's exactly what she did.

4.  V. Azarenka BLR d. S. Williams USA, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(6), Western & Southern Open final, Cincinnati.
This match was played on August 19, the last day in 2013 that Serena lost despite playing a record 82 matches on tour this year, her most ever. This final was an important clash between the two best hard court players on the tour and was thought to be a key indicator of who would win the final major of the year in New York City. Serena started strong and easily won the first set, but then Vika showed why she has won the last two Australian Opens, easily winning the second set. Azarenka demonstrated her ability to match Serena's power with her own mobility and defense. The third set was a closely fought affair ending in Serena's only deciding set tiebreak she played all year long. Despite falling behind early 2-4 in the tiebreak Serena was able to go up 5-4 but then inexplicably played tentatively to lose the next three points and the match. It was this result which led many to believe that if the two met again at the US Open the result would be exciting and perhaps surprising.

5.  S. Williams USA d. N. Li CHN, 2-6 6-3 6-0, WTA Year End Championships final, Istanbul.
At the end of the longest tennis season of her career somehow Serena Williams was able to pull out one more win despite nursing an injury sustained in her 6-4 2-6 6-4 win over Jelena Jankovic the day before. For the first 45 minutes of this match Li Na was clearly the better player on the court, with the important exception of the serve. Despite winning the first set, Li Na was only serving at under 40% and as the match went on, Serena's groundstrokes became more accurate. The second set included multiple changes in momentum as Serena won 3 consecutive games, then lost 3 in a row but then she ended the match by winning 9 games in a row. She ended the season with an amazing 78-4 record, 11 titles and over $12 million in prize money.

6.  S. Williams USA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 4-6 6-3 6-0, Sony Open Tennis final, Miami.
Sharapova was playing some of her best tennis and was riding high after demolishing her least favorite person on tour (Jelena Jankovic) 6-2 6-1 the day before and having won the Indian Wells title by dismissing Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 6-2. However, ever since she lost twice to Sharapova in 2004, Serena has made it a mission never to lose to the world's most highly-paid female athlete ever again, racking up a string of ten consecutive wins in a row. Regardless, Sharapova simply outplayed Serena for a full set and a half, moving better than I have ever seen her move on a tennis court, winning points with her defensive skills. Serena was clearly not playing her best but after falling behind a set and a break, she just started smacking the ball and simply willed herself to refuse to miss. Sharapova became nervous and lost confidence; the result was that Sharapova lost the last ten games of the match and her best chance to end the streak of defeats to Serena. Their head-to-head is now 2-14 and I would not be that surprised if Sharapova never wins another match against Serena, although all streaks come to an end at some point.

7.  S. Williams USA d. S. Errani ITA, 6-0 6-1, Roland Garros semifinal, Paris.
Some would say that such a lopsided result should not be on the list of best matches of the year but I would argue that any major semifinal where Serena has 40 winners compared to 12 unforced errors in a 46 minute win over a World Top 5 player is notable. I'm pretty sure that Sara Errani will not forget it and I'm sure that it was a clear message was sent to both Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal that if they weren't careful the same thing could happen to them. Either in the final or in some other match in the future.

8.  S. Lisicki GER d. A. Radwanska POL, 6-4 2-6 9-7, Wimbledon semifinal, London.
This match is pretty much on the list because of the epic third set. It lasted well over an hour and was a mini-match in of itself. Amazingly, Lisicki started off down 0-3 in the set but somehow managed to battle back to even the score. One of the compelling aspects of the match was the contrasting styles of the powerful serve and groundstrokes of the German versus the wily shotmaking of the popular Pole. Radwanska must have realized this was her best chance to win that elusive major title, since she was undefeated against her potential championship opponent (7-0 against  Marion Bartoli and 2-0 against Kirsten Flipkens). All she had to do was figure out a way to get past Boom Boom on Centre Court. Unfortunately for Aggie, the German considers that court one of the places she is most comfortable and has facilitated her peak performances. After all, she had come back from 0-3 down in the third set to beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon so surely she could repeat that feat against Agnieska Radwanska. And so she did, and then, devastatingly was unable to perform at all against Bartoli in the championship match.

9.  S. Stephens USA d. S. Williams, 3-6 7-5 6-4, Australian Open quarterfinal, Melbourne.
Since there were only four times all year that Serena lost, each occasion was notable in of itself, but this match between two Americans was also significant because it indicated that the 19-year-old Sloane Stephens was a force to reckon with. The match was very close and filled with drama, primarily because Serena was hobbled with a serious injury sustained in a hard-fought doubles loss to the top-ranked Italian duo of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. Serena fought desperately to win the match while not playing her best tennis, but Sloane was able to hold her nerve and pull out the victory. It's clear that Sloane is going to be the future of American women's tennis, and she ended at #12 in the world for 2013. Almost certainly she will take up residence in the Top 10 for most of 2014, perhaps while being coached by Roger Federer's former coach Paul Annacone.

10. C. Suarez Navarro ESP d. A. Kerber GER, 4-6 6-3 7-6(3), U.S. Open 4th Round, New York City.
This match is on the list because it was the most thrilling women's match I was able to see in person this year. The match took place in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Sunday September 7 and I was in the fourth row with a great view of the action. I had never been a fan of Carla Suarez-Navarro but was impressed with her one-handed backhand. Angelique Kerber also impressed me with her movement and defensive skills. In this match, it was clear that the Spanish clay-court specialist was the aggressor against the hard-hitting lefty. This must have been due to the game plan of her coach, Conchita Martinez, because this was not Suarez Navarro's usual playing style.
The feeling in the stadium was electric, as momentum shifted numerous times, and it seemed fitting that the result should come down to a third set tiebreak.

M. Bartoli FRA d. S. Lisicki GER, 6-1 6-4, Wimbledon final, London.
S. Williams USA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 6-4 6-4, Roland Garros final, Paris.
M. Sharapova RUS d. J. Jankovic SRB, 0-6 6-4 6-3, Roland Garros quarterfinal, Paris.
V. Azarenka BLR d. S. Williams USA, 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3, Qatar Total Open, Doha.
S. Williams USA d. C. Suarez Navarro ESP, 6-0 6-0, U.S. Open quarterfinal, New York City.
U. Radwanska POL d. V. Williams USA, 7-6(5) 6-7(4) 6-4, French Open 1st Round, Paris.
S. Williams USA d. S. Kuznetsova RUS, 6-1 3-6 6-3, Roland Garros quarterfinal, Paris.
V. Azarenka BLR d. A. Ivanovic SRB, 4-6 6-3 6-4, U.S. Open 4th Round, New York City.
C. Wozniacki DEN d. S. Kuznetsova RUS, 6-2 2-6 7-5, Australia Open 4th Round, Melbourne.
S. Williams USA d. P. Kvitova, 3-6 6-3 7-5, Qatar Total Open quarterfinal, Doha.
P. Kvitova CZE d. A. Kerber, 6-2 0-6 6-3, Pan Pacific Open final, Tokyo.
A. Kerber GER d. A. Ivanovic SRB, 7-6(6) 6-4, Generali Ladies Open final, Linz.
P. Kvitova CZE d. V. Williams USA, 3-6 6-3 7-6(2), Pan Pacific Open semifinal, Tokyo.
M. Bartoli FRA d. O. Gorgotsova BLR, 7-6(8) 4-6 7-5, French Open 1st Round, Paris.
V. Duval USA d. S. Stosur AUS, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, US Open 1st Round, New York City.
J. Zheng CHN d. V. Williams USA, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5), US Open 2nd Round, New York City.
K. Kanepi EST d. A. Kerber GER, 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3, Wimbledon 2nd Round, London.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Utah Gay Marriages Continue As District Court Denies Request For Stay

The federal judge who ruled Friday that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional has denied the state's request for a stay on his decision. Marriages will continue in the state until a higher court issues a stay. Now that the state has officially lost at the District Court level it is expected to ask the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay. The 10th Circuit has denied the state's request twice before (but those denials were primarily procedural in nature, since the state was asking out of order.)

EYE CANDY: Joshua Trusty

Joshua Trusty is a 26-year-old model (who also goes by the name Josh Trusty). Trusty is 5'11" and 160 pounds, according to Model Mayhem. According to his Facebook page, he is interested in men, making him one of the rare Eye Candy models to be openly gay.

He lives and works in Washington, D.C. He appeared as a swim suit model for one of the District's LGBT magazines, Metro Weekly back in 2012.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

10th U.S. Appellate Court Denies Utah's Stay Of Marriage Ruling

Important news out of Utah on Sunday. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the State of Utah's request for an emergency stay of the U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby's ruling on Friday which struck down Utah's laws banning same-sex marriage.

This means that it is likely that marriages will continue in Utah until the lower court rules on the the emergency stay request before it which is scheduled before the Court at 9:00am on Monday. However, until Judge Shelby issues a decision on that stay request (or Utah appeals the 10th Circuit denial to the Supreme Court) same-sex marriages will most likely continue.

Buzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports:
Judges Jerome Holmes and Robert Bacharach, in an order signed by court clerk Elisabeth Shumaker for the court, held that the because the state’s request “does not meet the requirements of the Federal or local appellate rules governing a request for a stay,” the court was denying the motion.
“Defendants-Appellants acknowledge that they have not addressed, let alone satisfied, the factors that must be established to be entitled to a stay pending appeal,” the court held. The factors include a showing by the party asking for a stay that they are likely to succeed on appeal, that they would suffer “irreparable injury” if they do not get a stay, that other parties would not injure other parties, and an assessment of where the “public interest” lies.
The judges wrote that the state could refile a similar motion at a later point so long as it complied with the court’s rules. Holmes was appointed to the appellate court by President George W. Bush; Bacharach was appointed by President Obama.
Utah had requested a stay before Judge Shelby and the 10th Circuit and so the denial means that they will have to argue their motion in front of the same judge who has so far ruled against them on the merits of the case. You can read the text of the important orders and decisions in the case here.

Hat/tip to Chris Geidner

New $3M Prizes For Mathematics Announced!

Interesting news! There is going to be a new $3 million-dollar prize for advances in Mathematics, similar to the high-profile Breakthrough prizes that have been announced in Life Sciences and the Fundamental Physics prize. The funds for these prizes are coming from technology billionaires who are trying to raise the social status of people who work in the area of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Starting next year, the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics, as it will be called, will join the Fundamental Physics Prize, which Mr. Milner established in 2012, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which he set up a year ago in partnership with Sergey Brin of Google, Mr. Zuckerberg and Jack Ma, a Chinese entrepreneur, and their families. Each winner or winning team gets $3 million, making the awards the richest in science (this year’s Nobel Prize winners, for example, are each winning or sharing $1.2 million). 
All the prizewinners are eligible to win again, but in the meantime they will help judge future contests. For the new math award, Mr. Milner and Mr. Zuckerberg, in consultation with experts, will choose the first winners. Mr. Milner declined to say how many mathematicians would be chosen, but there could be quite a number of windfalls in store: for the physics price, there were nine inaugural winners.
This sounds like a good idea to me but not everyone agrees. Professor Peter Woit of Columbia University is one such critic:
Even if the Milner-Zuckerberg prize does end up focused on the best mathematics research, I still think the whole concept is problematic. The US today is increasingly dominated by a grotesque winner-take-all culture that values wealth and celebrity above all else. While mathematics research, like the rest of academia, has been affected as a star system has become increasingly part of the picture, this field has been somewhat immune to celebrity culture. While people typically think that what mathematicians do is perfectly respectable, they don’t understand much about it and aren’t especially interested. Milner and Zuckerberg want to change this by turning mathematicians into celebrities, but I don’t see any reason to believe this is going to lead to better mathematics.
Woit's main issue with the prize is that he thinks the money could have a better use if directed somewhere else. That may be true, but although I support and defend his right to express his beliefs, it really seems like another example of someone external to a process making an observation about someone's decision to approach a problem in a particular way and critiquing it because what is being done doesn't align with how the critic sees the world or their goals. 

To me, the critic should promote their vision, unless they can make a compelling case for the idea that the activity they are critiquiing will actually have a deleterious impact on some universal good.

I don't think Woit's criticism does that. What do you think, do you think the $3 million Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics will do more harm than good?


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