Sunday, November 30, 2014

Killer Cop Darren Wilson Resigns From #Ferguson Police Department

Darren Wilson, the police officer whose fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American man named Michael Brown  in Ferguson, MO in August 2014 has been the subject of protests around the country, has released a public letter of resignation less than a week after a grand jury refused to indict him on any criminal charges relating to his actions that resulted in the death of Brown.
"I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continued employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process."
Wilson's actions and words have raised the profile of racial differences in the country, in particular as they relate to police relations with minority communities.

Hat/tip to Wonder Man

Saturday, November 29, 2014

SATURDAY POLITICS: Duke Mathematicians Show How Heinously NC Republicans Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

This is an interesting study from two Duke mathematicians which demonstrates the truly heinous nature of the partisan gerrymander perpetrated by North Carolina Republicans to gain a majority of the state's Congressional districts despite getting a minority of votes.
During the 2012 elections in North Carolina, Republicans took nine of the state’s 13 U.S. House seats although 51 percent of the two-party vote went to Democratic candidates. 
The gerrymandering that led to these results isn’t unique to North Carolina or any specific party. Both Democrats and Republicans have used it for political advantage over the years. However, new technology makes it possible to draw partisan districts with increasing precision.

They used a statistical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts. The model produced thousands of versions of the redrawn map. All of them were based only on the legal requirements of redistricting, ensuring the districts represented roughly equal numbers of voters and were as geographically compact as possible, without accounting for race or political affiliation.
After re-running the election 100 times, with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election -- four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. 
Feel free to re-read that again. Using ONE HUNDRED simulations of randomly drawn district lines but the same votes cast in the 2012 election NONE of those simulations produced the results of the actual 2012 election results of 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats, while the most likely simulated result was between 7 and 8 Democrats and 6 or 5 Republicans.

This result demonstrates how heinously the Republican legislature gerrymandered North Carolina's congressional districts to thwart the political will of the majority of voters.

Friday, November 28, 2014

WATCH: Teaser Trailer For Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens!

The first trailer for the latest Star Wars film, the seventh in the series, subtitled The Force Awakens, has been released today and already has 10 million views. Directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens  will be released in December 2015.

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Meet 38-Year-Old Leondra Kruger, CA Supreme Court Nominee

Leondra Kruger, 38, is Governor Jerry Brown's nominee for the current vacancy on the California Supreme Court.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the appointment:
Kruger, who is African American, joined the Office of Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and argued 12 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. She left the solicitor general's office last year and became deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel. 
"Watching her at the U.S. Supreme Court was like watching a master who had done it hundreds of times," said Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University. "It was breathtaking." 
Kruger was Brown's third appointment in recent years to the seven-member court. His other appointees are Goodwin Liu, a former UC Berkeley law professor, and Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a Stanford law professor. She will be the court's third Democratic appointee. 
"With Brown's last two appointments and now with Leondra coming on the court, the California Supreme Court is looking like perhaps the most high-powered state supreme court in the country," Katyal said.
Kruger has the impressive credentials of someone whose judicial career may be beginning, not ending with a state Supreme Court appointment:
Kruger served as a law clerk to former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens from 2003 to 2004 and to Judge David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003. She also taught at the University of Chicago for a year. 
She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard and her law degree from Yale University, where she was editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal.
Hopefully Kruger's appointment will be confirmed quickly. If so, she will become the second African American female to serve on the California Supreme Court. The first, Janice Rogers Brown, was named to the D.C. Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush and still serves there now. Leondra Kruger is today's Celebrity Friday because hopefully her name is one that will be heard again in a national context soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Asimov's Foundation Being Adapted For HBO By Christopher Nolan's Brother Jonathan

Isaac Asimov is one of the main reasons why I am a fan of science fiction to this day as well as being an avid reader of genre fiction in general. In the popular media Asimov was known for his popular promotion of science and technology but he was also the author of the landmark, best-selling series Foundation. He was the author of dozens of books and an influence on many authors who came after him.

Jonathan Nolan is best known to me as the (younger) brother of Christopher Nolan, my favorite film director. However, Jonathan has been listed as a co-author on several of Christopher's hit films such Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar. He is probably most well-known for co-creating (with his wife Lisa Joy Nolan) the hit television show Person of Interest on CBS.

I found out today from reading Aidan Moher's wonderful blog that Jonathan is adapting Asimov's Foundation series for HBO. This is incredibly exciting news to me (perhaps even more exciting than the news that my current favorite sci-fi series, James S.A. Corey's The Expanse, is being adapted for SyFy).

Apparently, Jonathan has another project for HBO coming out soon also. He co-wrote the pilot for Westworld, a big-budget sci-fi series (about artificial intelligence) to appear on HBO in 2015 starring heavyweights like Sir Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Thandie Newton. Westworld is based on material written by Michael Chrichton, who adapted his own short story in a 1973 film of the same name that he wrote and directed (which bombed).

The Wrap summarized how the Jonathan Nolan Foundation deal happened.
The “Foundation” series was originally comprised of three books — “Foundation,” “Foundation and Empire” and “Second Foundation.” The trilogy won a Hugo Award for “Best All-Time” series in 1966, 15 years before Asimov began adding to the series with sequels “Foundation's Edge” and “Foundation and Earth,” as well as prequels “Prelude to Foundation” and “Forward the Foundation.” 
Sony Pictures acquired “Foundation” in a multi-studio auction back in 2009 and attached Roland Emmerich to direct and produce. Two years later, the studio hired Dante Harper (“Akira”) to adapt the books. When the project failed to materialize, HBO spent big bucks to acquire the property when it became available earlier this summer.
There's no information about how soon Foundation would be ready to go to air but I doubt it would happen in the Obama administration. I imagine it will depend on the script Nolan can produce and it might also depend on the critical and commercial response to Westworld in 2015.

Still, this is very exciting news for geeks like myself who are huge fans of Asimov and the Foundation!

Federal Judges Strike Down Marriage Equality Bans In MISSISSIPPI & ARKANSAS!

After two rulings in federal court, the nationwide map for marriage equality now looks like the figure above. In Mississippi and Arkansas federal judges ruled that state bans on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples are unconstitutional, for different reasons.

Both rulings were put on hold pending appeal. In Mississippi case, the state defendants, Republican Governor Phil Bryant and Republican Attorney General Jim Hood have already filed a notice of appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is already considering appeals bans on marriage equality from Texas and Louisiana. Presumably Arkansas will appeal to the 8th Circuit. All the red states which have legally enforceable bans on marriage equality to date are in either the 5th, 6th or 8th Circuits.

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

POLL: Americans See Michael Brown Shooting Very Differently By Race and Party

Not TOO surprisingly there are stark racial differences in how Americans of different racial backgrounds view the shooting of Michael Brown, a poll by Huffington Post reveals.

As YouGov puts it:
There is a massive racial divide between white and black Americans about whether Darren Wilson should face punishment for killing Michael Brown. While only 22% of whites say that wilson was at fault and should be punished, just under two-thirds (64%) of black Americans want the officer to be punished. 30% of whites, and 11% of blacks, say that the shooting was a tragic accident. 29% of whites say that officer Wilson was fully justified in shooting Brown, something only 4% of black Americans agree with.
Views of the Ferguson incident are not only bifurcated by racial identity but also by party identification:
Democrats were also three times more likely than Republicans to say Wilson was at fault, and to fear that he would be punished too leniently. 
Perhaps the biggest divide, however, was on whether the shooting represented an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern in how black men are treated by the police. While Americans overall were split, 74 percent of black Americans and 57 percent of Democrats, compared with 31 percent of whites and 18 percent of Republicans, saw the shooting as part of a larger pattern.
Despite this being an incident that involves a white cop and  a Black victim I would be interested in seeing data about how other racial groups (especially Latino and Asians) view the Michael Brown situation. Race in America is far more complicated than just Black and white.

TENNIS TUESDAY: Serena WTA's Player of The Year (Again!), ATP Year-End Rankings

The year end rankings of the ATP were released yesterday and there are some interesting stories buried in the Top 10:

  1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) – No. 1 for the third time in four years, finishing in the Top 3 for the eighth straight year
  2. Roger Federer (SUI) – Oldest year-end No. 2 (at 33 years of age), finishing in the Top 10 for the 13th straight year (tying Ivan Lendl).Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors (16) hold the record for most Top 10 finishes
  3. Rafael Nadal (ESP) – A three-time year-end No. 1 and the third left-hander – after Connors (16) and John McEnroe (10) – to finish in the Top 10 for 10 straight years
  4. Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Finished in the Top 10 for the second season in a row at a year-end high of No. 4 after winning his first Grand Slam title (Australian Open), first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters) and first Davis Cup trophy for Switzerland
  5. Kei Nishikori (JPN) – First Asian to finish in the Top 10 and the first player to debut in the year-end Top 5 since Andy Murray in 2008. He was also the first Asian male to reach a Grand Slam final, at the US Open (l. to Cilic), and first Asian player to compete at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (his semi-final match against Djokovic, on 15 November, was watched by 10 million viewers on TV Asahi between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time in Japan)
  6. Andy Murray (GBR) – Seventh consecutive finish in the Top 6
  7. Tomas Berdych (CZE) – Fifth consecutive finish in the Top 10
  8. Milos Raonic (CAN) – First from his country and first player born in the 1990s to finish in the Top 10.
  9. Marin Cilic (CRO) – Made the biggest jump from year-end 2013 ranking of No. 37
  10. David Ferrer (ESP) – Second-oldest Top 10 finisher (at 32 years of age), ending the year in the Top 10 for the fifth year in a row and sixth time overall.
On the WTA side, World #1 Serna Williams has been named Player of the Year for the 6th time in her career and the third consecutive year. She won the honor in 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Only Steffi Graf (8 times) and Martina Navratilova (7 times) have been named Player of the Year more times, and these three are the only ones to have ever won it more than twice. Interestingly, Serena has only ended the Year End Rankings at #1 four times (2002, 2009, 2013 and 2014). It will be interesting to see what 2015 bring for Serena, and her sister Venus Williams, who ended the year at a very respectable #18 in the world.e

Monday, November 24, 2014

EYE CANDY: Haze McCarthy

Haze Mccarthy is best known for his work at the porn site Randy Blue. According to the Man Crush blog, Haze (is that really the name his Momma gave him?) "is 20 years old and from Massachusetts, plays football and works out 4-5 times a week." I haven't been able to find more (or more accurate) information about Haze, but since I saw him at the Gorgeous Sexy Guys blog I am convinced he is Eye Candy worthy.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 DAVIS CUP: Federer Clinches Final for Switzerland By Defeating Gasquet

World #2 Roger Federer was able to recover from his straights sets loss to Gael Monfils on Friday to partner with World #4 Stan Wawrinka on Saturday to win the all-important doubles match in straight sets over Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau. Then on Sunday, Federer clinched his country's first Davis Cup with a straight sets singles win over Gasquet, 6-4 6-2 6-2. Gasquet was substituted for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost to Wawrinka in 4 sets on Friday.

Federer gave props to his countryman Wawrinka and the rest of the Swiss team:
"I'm happy I was able to stay calm and play a good match, and I'm really happy for the guys in the team, everybody worked incredibly hard to get me match ready," Federer said. "Stan has put in so much effort over the years and played an unbelievable weekend that gave me the opportunity today. I'm very much aware of that, this one is for the boys."
The 17-time major champion first competed in the Davis Cup in 1999 so it has taken 15 years to win this prestigious title for the player many people feel is the Greatest Of All Time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

SATURDAY POLITICS: Huizar-Molina Race For Los Angeles CD14 Heats Up

As you may recall, I live in Los Angeles City Council District 14 which is represented by Jose Huizar. Huizar is running for re-election in the March 3, 2015 primary and in this heavily Democratic region, winning that race basically would insure his position on the council until 2019 at least. I say "at least" because there is a movement to move municipal elections that typically happen in odd-numbered years (i.e. not in presidential or gubernatorial election years) and align them with those larger turnout elections. There are arguments both for and against this idea (for: having city and county races in the same year will mean that they will occur in the same time frame when people are thinking about other political races; against: the big money that dominates state and federal races will be used to swamp local concerns in local races).

However, Huizar is facing a strong challenge from Gloria Molina, the outgoing Los Angeles County Supervisor, who has been a political power center on the East Side of Los Angeles for decades, and at age 66 has decided to challenge an incumbent city councilman to get a job she held more than 30 years ago.

With the primary barely more than four months away, the two candidates are jockeying for endorsements and donations. On Thursday, both candidates (in addition to MadProfesssah) attended the endorsement meeting of the East Area Progressive Democrats in Eagle Rock, seeking that new club's endorsement. They were both greeted politely and asked probing questions by the audience, with Huizar getting a little testy when he admitted that the "municipal election schedule realignment" that he supports would end up in increasing the length of his own term in office. Molina announced her opposition to the plan, showing a keen awareness of her audience, because EAPD has come out strongly against the proposed plan to align the city's elections with the state's. In the end, though, neither candidate received the high threshold required for an official endorsement by the club.

Huizar has built a substantial lead in fundraising. In fact, he is approaching the record amount raised by any City Councilman in the history of Los Angeles, according to Downtown News columnist Jon Regardie:
This puts Huizar on a record-breaking path. I pored through the Ethics Commission’s online fundraising information, which has data on every city council election going back 11 years. In that time, the only person to raise more money during the primary was Antonio Villaraigosa, who scooped up $773,000 in 2003 when he beat incumbent Nick Pacheco. Of course, AnVil used that seat as a springboard to the mayor’s office two years later.  
Huizar is $38,000 short of the record, but still has more than four months until voters head to the polls in March. Curious fact: The next highest tally in a council primary was recorded by now-Mayor Eric Garcetti, who raised $683,000 for a win against Gary Slossberg in 2009. No, I don’t know who Gary Slossberg is either.
It's curious tat the two people to have raised more money than Huizar went on to become Mayor. Is that Huizar's ultimate plan? He is only 46-years-old now and the current Mayor will be termed out in 2021. Some people think the only reason Molina is running for City Council is to make a future bid for Mayor of Los Angeles more palatable. Maybe the people who are giving money to Huizar don't want to see that happen?

Anyway, I'm sure there will be twists and turns in this race as the March 3 date gets closer and closer.

Friday, November 21, 2014

2014 DAVIS CUP: Final Tied 1-1 Wawrinka d. Tsonga, Monfils d. Federer, Doubles Decision Looms

The final tie of the 2014 Davis Cup is even at 1-all after the first day since Gael Monfils dispatched Roger Federer in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 6-3, following Stan Wawrinka's 4-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier in the day. Monfils had previously lost to Federer 8 of their 10 meetings but he famously squandered two match points in their 2014 US Open quarterfinal after also dominating the Swiss great from the back of the court for more than two sets. If Monfils had won that match, is it possible he could have won the US Open instead of Marin Cilic?

Monfils' (somewhat)  surprising win does not bode well for Switzerland's chances of wining the Cup, because France is expected to have a decided advantage in the doubles tie ad then would only have to win one match on Sunday to deny Roger Federer his chance to complete his career-long goal of adding his name to the cup.

Unless perhaps Federer and Wawrinka team up to play doubles? Then only one of them would have to win on Sunday in order to claim the cup. Federer's play on Friday hopefully reflected only a lack of practice and not any more lingering effects of the back injury which caused him to withdraw from the final of the 21014 ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday. And asking the 33-year-old great to play three consecutive days (one singles, one doubles and then another singles match) may be a bit too much to ask. Then again this is Davis Cup and it is unlikely that Federer and Wawrinka will have as good a chance to bring historic tennis glory to their country by winning the Davis Cup.

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Chris Hemsworth Named People's "Sexiest Man Alive"

Chris Hemsworth has been named People's Sexiest Man Alive for 2014. The 31-year-old 6-foot-4 hunk from Australia is best known for playing Thor in Marvel studios Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and The Avengers (2012). Hemsworth is married and the father of 3.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Now There Are 35! South Carolina Joins Marriage Equality States!

The Supreme Court today denied South Carolina's request for a stay on the implementation of a federal judge's ruling in Condon v. Wilson declaring the Palmetto State's ban on marriage equality unconstitutional.

As Freedom to Marry notes, today's actions means that 35 states in total, including all states in the 4th, 9th and 10th Circuits are currently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. There are pending hearings in federal court the 5th Circuit (very conservative) and the 6th Circuit recently ruled against marriage equality, with all of the plaintiffs in those four states (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee) now petitioning the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of that decision. The  Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in the appeal of  a state court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis


Gone Girl is one of the best films of the year. To date it has grossed nearly $150 million domestically (and even more than that internationally). Critically, the film is hovering very near the 90% level on (88% from critics and 90% from the audience). That it is from David Fincher, one of America's most distinctive directors (Fight Club, The Social Network), is another reason to see it.

Gone Girl is based on the blockbuster best-selling mystery novel published in 2012 written by Gillian Flynn with the same title. "What a dark comedy!" one of my friends exclaimed as the credits rolled and scattered applause was heard around the theater (at the Arclight Cinemas in Pasadena) when we saw the film in on its opening weekend.

Gone Girl is multiple movies rolled into one. It is a dark comedy; it is also a whodunnit, a battle of the sexes, a biting critique of the "if it bleeds, it leads" media culture, a meditation on the nature of the modern American marriage and star-centered vehicle for Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Affleck and Pike play Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple whose version of the American dream has gone bust when both of them get fired from their publishing industry jobs in New York City and end up moving to Nick's hick hometown in Missouri to take care of Nick's ailing mom but end up stuck there permanently.  This upsets his wife, who grew up as the pampered only daughter of two psychiatrists who wrote a series of successful novels about Amazing Amy, the perfect child.

The movie opens on the occasion of Nick and Amy's fifth wedding anniversary, with Amy having apparently disappeared and Nick looking uncomfortable and secretive when questioned by the police about his wife's friends, her activities and their marriage.

When Amy doesn't appear after a few days, the police (and Amy's parents) get more suspicious of Nick's behavior and even the audience, who wants to give Affleck's character the benefit of the doubt starts to turn on him.

The film's effectiveness depends on the numerous twists and turns that Flynn has expertly included in the screenplay she adapted from the excellent source material of her own novel. Fincher's direction is exceptional, because even at well over two hours, the movie is thrillingly paced and very suspenseful.

The only question remaining now is whether (or how) Hollywood's award-industrial complex will be able to embrace and reward Gone Girl despite its genre roots come end-of-year awards.

Title: Gone Girl.
Director: David Fincher.
Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language.
Release Date: October 3, 2014.
Viewing Date: October 5, 2014.

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

Overall Grade: A- (3.66/4.0).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

And Now There Are 34! Montana Joins The Marriage Equality Majority

Wow! Montana today joined the rest of the Ninth U.S. Circuit when a federal judge issued a ruling striking down the Treasure state's ban on same-sex marriage. One key excerpt from the ruling in Rolando v. Fox is:
The Court hereby DECLARES that Montana’s laws that ban same-sex marriage, including Article XIII, section 7 of the Montana Constitution, and Montana Code Annotated section 40-1-103 and section 40-1-401, violate Plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court PERMANENTLY ENJOINS the State of Montana and its officers, employees, agents, and political subdivisions from enforcing Article XIII, section 7 of the Montana Constitution, Montana Code Annotated section 40-1-103 and section 40-1-401, and any other laws or regulations, to the extent that they prohibit otherwise qualified same-sex couples from marrying in Montana, and to the extent that they do not recognize same-sex marriages validly contracted outside Montana. This injunction shall take effect immediately.
That makes it pretty clear that same-sex couples can get married in Big Sky Country now! (There is no stay on the order.) The Democratic Governor of Montana Steve Bullock praised the decision while the Republican Attorney General (named defendant) Tim Fox announced that he would appeal the decision (presumably to the Ninth Circuit, which has already ruled that marriage equality is required under federal law, and then to the Supreme Court, which has previously refused to issue stays on the effect of marriage equality rulings from the 9th Circuit.

Another key quote from the ruling is:
Montana’s laws that ban same-sex marriage impose a “disfavored legal status” on same-sex couples. The time has come for Montana to follow all the other states within the Ninth Circuit and recognize that laws that ban same-sex marriage violate the constitutional right of same-sex couples to equal protection of the laws. Today Montana becomes the thirty-fourth state to permit same-sex marriage.
And so it goes...

Hat/tip to Equality Case Files.

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Mississippi Heritage Amendment Proposed To Declare Christianity "Principal Religion"

Whoa! Mississippi may be considering a state constitutional amendment in 2016 that would, among other things, declare "Christianity" the "principal" religion of the state, and insert the words "Holy Bible" into the founding document of the Magnolia State. The Magnolia State Heritage Amendment reads, in part:
The State of Mississippi hereby acknowledges the fact of her identity as a principally Christian and quintessentially Southern state, in terms of the majority of her population, character, culture, history, and heritage, from 1817 to the present; accordingly, the Holy Bible is acknowledged as a foremost source of her founding principles, inspiration, and virtues; and, accordingly, prayer is acknowledged as a respected, meaningful, and valuable custom of her citizens. The acknowledgments hereby secured shall not be construed to transgress either the national or the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
In case you think  I am making this up, here is the official summary of the amendment from the Mississippi Secretary of State's office:
Initiative #46 would amend the Constitution to restrict or define Mississippi’s heritage in the following areas: religion, official language, state flag, nickname, song, motto and state university mascots. Further, the initiative would prevent the consolidation of Alcorn State University, Delta State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi University for Women, and Mississippi Valley State University, designate the month of April “Confederate Heritage Month,” and reinstate Mississippi’s Constitutional boundaries.
I guess Mississippi does not have the legal requirement that ballot measures restrict themselves to dealing with one topic! Oh, and it also insists that the state government can not offer government services in any other language than English. Is "y'all" English? I guess well find out if the measure qualifies for the ballot and voters get to see the measure in November 2016.

Monday, November 17, 2014

EYE CANDY: Rafael Leonidas (reprise)

Rafael Leonidas appeared as Eye Candy for the first time here more than four years ago (August 2, 2010). From the pictures, you can clearly see why he is making a repeat showing! These new pictures were brought to my attention by the Gorgeous Sexy Guys blog. Rafael is now 29 years old (according to his Model Mayhem profile), weighs 205 pounds and is 6-foot-1. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 ATP YEC: Djokovic Wins 3rd Consecutive World Tour Finals Title

A sad end to the 2014 ATP World Tour Finals in London. Roger Federer announced that he has withdrawn from the tournament with a back injury and will be unable to take the court to face Novak Djokovic in the last ATP final of the year. Apparently Stan Wawrinka took more out of Federer than we though in their hard-fought match despite losing after blowing 4 match points. Federer made the announcement on court:
"Unfortunately, I'm not match fit to play the match tonight. Clearly I wish it wasn't so. I tried all year to be ready for the [Barclays] ATP World Tour Finals, and I didn't want it to end this way. I tried everything I could last night, also today – painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end – but I just can't compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand."
With Federer's default Djokovic wins his 3rd consecutive year-end championship and 4th in his career (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014). It's his 7th title of 2014 and it means that he narrows his head-to-head rivalry with Federer to 18-19. He ends with a 62-8 while Federer ended the year with most match wins on tour (72-11). Federer also becomes the oldest player to end the year ranked #2.

The back injury is especially ominous for Federer because it was a back injury which hampered his play and led to his sub-par performances for most of 2013. Hopefully, this injury is not too major, but the fact that it forced him to withdraw from a match for only the 4th time in more than 1200 professional matches demonstrates how rare an event it is. Federer and Wawrinka are trying to win the Davis Cup for Switzerland in France this weekend so a quick recovery of Federer's back and a mending of fences between the two compatriots after a testy semifinal is imperative.

2014 ATP YEC: Federer-Djokovic XXXVII In Championship Match

Roger Federer saved an astonishing 4 match points in his semifinal match with countryman Stan Wawrinka, winning 3-6 7-5 7-6(6) to reach the ATP World Tour Final championship match where (as I predicted) he will face Novak Djokovic. Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori in three sets 6-1 3-6 6-0.

Federer leads Djokovic 19-17 in their career head-to-head and has won 3 of their 5 matches played in 2014. However, Djokovic beat Federer in the 2012 ATP World Tour finals in two very close sets. The World #1 ranking for 2014 is not at stake in this match because Djokovic has already sealed the year-end ranking.

MadProfessah's prediction: Djokovic in 3 sets.

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 ATP YEC: Djokovic Clinches 2014 Year End Ranking; Faces Kei In SF, Federer-Wawrinka

The race for the 2014 Year-End #1 ranking is over. By winning his match relatively easily against Tomas Berdych 6-2 6-2 today and qualifying for the ATP World Tour Year-End Championships semifinals by winning all 3 of his round-robin matches, Novak Djokovic achieved his goal of reaching the #1 spot for the 3rd time in 4 years (2011, 2012 and 2014). World #2 Roger Federer can not overtake Djokovic in the rankings even if he beats him in the year-end championship match. Federer also emerged from his round-robin group undefeated, after demolishing Andy Murray 6-0 6-1. The fact that the race for #1 came down to almost the very end of the season is a testament to Federer's great play all year long, even if he did not win a major. He will end the year at World #2 after ending last year at #6.

The semifinals will be a reprise of the 2014 US Open semifinal with Kei Nishikori versus Djokovic and Swiss countrymen Stan Wawrinka and Federer will face off in the other (a reprise of the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals). I would be very surprised if we did not see a reprise of the 2014 Wimbledon final and the 2012 Year-End Championship  match between Federer and Djokovic, both of which were won by the younger player.

This means that the #1 ranking has been held by either Federer (5), Nadal (3) or Djokovic (3) for 11 consecutive years, from 2004 through 2014.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SCOTUS Denies Kansas Request For Stay On Marriage Equality Ruling

The Supreme Court denied a last-ditch effort by Kansas to prevent marriage equality from coming to the Sunflower State on Wednesday. As you can see from the order, only Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia would have granted the stay. There had been some question whether the Suporeme Court would continue allowing same-sex couples to get married in states after the 6th Circuit broke the string of appellate court rulings in favor of marriage equality last week, making it likely that the court will have to issue a ruling with national impact sooner rather than later.

Hat/tip to Chris Geidner

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Federal Judge Declares Secular Humanism A Religion

This is interesting news that seems perfect for Godless Wednesday. Think Progress reports that a federal judge has ruled that secular humanism must be considered a religion, and that its adherents must be granted the same special rights that the state offers to religious people.
On Thursday, October 30, Senior District Judge Ancer Haggerty issued a ruling on American Humanist Association v. United States, a case that was brought by the American Humanist Association (AHA) and Jason Holden, a federal prisoner. Holden pushed for the lawsuit because he wanted Humanism — which the AHA defines as “an ethical and life-affirming philosophy free of belief in any gods and other supernatural forces” — recognized as a religion so that his prison would allow for the creation of a Humanist study group. Haggerty sided with the plaintiffs in his decision, citing existing legal precedent and arguing that denying Humanists the same rights as groups such as Christianity would be highly suspect under the Establishment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which declares that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” 
“The court finds that Secular Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes,” the ruling read.

This is an excellent deelopment. Although I do not support the privileged position religion is granted in our society, if that is the situation we have to deal with right now then I support other belief systems like Pastafarianism, secular humanism or even agnosticism be treated like religion as well, if it means that their adherents will receive the same special treatment other religions like Christianity currently receive.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TENNIS TUESDAY: Czechs Win Fed Cup; Serena-Woz Friendship, Federer Still In Hunt For 2014 #1 Rank

Czech Win Fed Cup (Again)
The Czech Republic dominated Germany to win the 2014 Fed Cup title; it is the country's 3rd win in four years (2014, 2012 and 2011). Anchored by 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the 2014 Wimbledon champion scored wins over Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic. Combined with Lucie Safarova's win over Kerber, this gave the Czech team a unassailable lead over Germany.

Serena-Wozniacki Friendship Puzzles Observers
Despite playing against each other in two recent high profile matches (2014 US Open final and the Year-End Championships semifinals) World #1 Serena Williams and former World #1 Caroline Wozniacki continue to be best friends and unafraid of showing the world they can be friendly off the court and fierce competitors off it.

Federer Likely To Reach Year End Championships Semifinals, Year End #1 (Theoretically) Possible
Roger Federer has won his first two matches at the ATP World Tour Finals in London by defeating Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori in straight sets. However since Nishikori and Murray have both won and lost one match each, it is theoretically possible that if Federer loses against Murray and Nishikori beats Raonic that they could qualify. But all Federer has to do is win a set against Murray and he will definitely qualify. Since Nishikori beat Murray it would be more likely that Nishikori could qualify before Murray along with Federer. If Raonic beats Nishikori then Federer and Murray will automatically qualify regardless of the result of their match. Federr could end the year #1 if he wins the Year--End Championships by remaining undefeated *and* wins multiple live rubbers in the Davis Cup final the following week.

Monday, November 10, 2014

EYE CANDY: Rob Evans (black/white)

Rob Evans has appeared as Eye Candy twice before (May 16, 2011 and September 15, 2014). He is back for his 3rd appearance, this time all his pictures are in black and white.

Friday, November 07, 2014

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: The Title Of The Next Star Wars Film is The Force Awakens

The title for the next Star Wars movie, which is technically  Episode VII in the 9-episode epic started in 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is called Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is being directed by JJ Abrams and will be released on December 18, 2015 by Disney.

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis

Thursday, November 06, 2014

6th U.S. Circuit Rules AGAINST Marriage Equality, Upholding Bans In KY, MI, OH and TN

Well! In a somewhat surprising move, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has reversed multiple lower court rulings in favor of marriage equality and issued a 2-1 decision upholding the rights of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to enforce laws that restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

The 2-1 decision is contrary to decisions in the 9th, 10th, 4th and 7th Circuits which all favored marriage equality and which the Supreme Court declined to review last month, effectively granting marriage equality to go into effect in 30-plus states. Today's decision means that it is much more likely now that the United States Supreme Court will have to step in and give  a final resolution of the marriage equality question once and for all, probably by June 2015.

The two judges appointed by President Gerge W. Bush voted to uphold the marriage bans using the argument that judges should not be deciding such a question which could (and should) be sresolved by the Democratic process while the judge appointed by President Clinton voiced a fierce dissent to such an idea:
If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams. 
Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for “proceeding with caution” (otherwise known as the “wait and see” approach), I dissent.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the U.S. Supreme Court responds to today's actions by the 6th Circuit. Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Court would not feel inclined to get involved unless and until a Circuit split developed, and that is exactly what happened today.

Same-Sex Couples Getting Married In Missouri After Court Ruling

Missouri joined the ranks of marriage equality states today when a state judge struck down the Show Me state's ban on same-sex couples being issued marriage licenses and no stay was issued on the effect of the decision.

The Attorney General of Missouri issued this statement in response to the decision in State of Missouri v. Jennifer Florida:
We have appealed the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court. The constitutional challenge to Missouri's historically recognized right to define marriage must be presented to and resolved by the state's highest court. Following decisions in Idaho and Alaska, the United States Supreme Court has refused to grant stays on identical facts. We will not seek a stay of this court’s order when the United States Supreme Court has ruled none should be granted.
Hopefully the state Supreme Court will issue a speedy ruling on the issue. Missouri is in the 8th circuit, which is one of the few federal appellate circuits which has not ruled on the question of whether state bans on marriage equality violate the federal constitution. The current case is in the state system but presumably there are parallel legal avenues ongoing in the federal system.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sheila Kuehl Elected1st Openly LGBT Member of LA County Board Of Supervisors!!

Sheila Kuehl made LGBT history again last night as the first openly LGBT person elected to the California legislature (way back in 1994) became the first openly LGBT person elected to the powerful 5-person Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Kuehl, 73, won a tight race against fellow Democrat Bobby Shriver to make history and cement a Democratic (and progressive) majority on the legislative and executive body which serves the 10 million residents of Los Angeles County, roughly the population of Ohio.
The current vote tally has Kuehl ahead 52.78% to 47.22%, 12,029 votes out of less than a quarter-million cast. This is a shockingly low voter turnout in the 3rd Supervisorial District which has about 2 million residents. There are still absentee ballots and provisional ballots to be tallied but Shriver has conceded the race and it is unlikely the result would change.

MadProfessah endorsed Kuehl very early and her win was an incredible bright spot in an otherwise very rough evening of electoral results for Democrats and progressives around the country.

Congrats, Sheila!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

MadProfessah Endorsements for California November 4, 2014 General Election

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for!  Here are MadProfessah's positions on how I will be voting in the November 4 2014 California General Election, compared with endorsements from other organizations like the Los Angeles Times,  California Democratic PartyEast Area Progressive Democrats and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. For more information about judicial candidates, check out the LA County Bar Association.

Statewide Measures         MadProf   LA TIMES CA DEMS
Prop. 1 (Water Bond)       Yes       Yes      Yes
Prop. 2 (State Budget)     Yes       Yes      Yes
Prop. 45 (Health Ins.)     Yes       No       Yes
Prop. 46 (MD malpractice)  Yes       No       NEUTRAL
Prop. 47 (Sentence Reform) Yes       Yes      Yes
Prop. 48 (Indian Casinos)  Yes       Yes      Yes

Statewide Races          MadProf  LA TIMES  CA DEMS
Governor                 Brown*   Brown*     Brown*
Lieutenant Governor      Newsom*  Newsom*    Newsom*
Attorney General         Harris*  Harris*    Harris*
Secretary of State       Padilla  Peterson   Padilla
Treasurer                Chiang   Chiang     Chiang
Controller               Yee      Swearingen Yee
Insurance Commissioner   Jones*   Jones*     Jones*   
Supt. of Public Inst.    Torlakson* Tuck     Torlakson*
Bd. of Equalization, #1  NONE       ---      Parker    
Bd. of Equalization, #2  NONE       ---      Ma
Bd. of Equalization, #3  NONE       ---      Horton*
Bd. of Equalization, #4  NONE       ---      NONE
CA Sup. Court (Cuellar)  YES        YES      YES

CA Sup. Court (Liu)      YES        YES      YES
CA Sup. Court (Werdegar) YES        YES      YES

LA County Races          MadProf   LA TIMES   LA DEMS
Assessor                 Prang     Morris     Prang
Sheriff                  McDonnell McDonnell  NOT TANAKA
Supervisor, District 1   Solis     Solis      Solis
Supervisor, District 3   Kuehl     Kuehl      Kuehl
Measure P (Parks)        YES       NO         YES
Judicial Races            MadProf  LA TIMES  CA DEMS
Ct of Appeal (Rothschild) Yes      Yes       Yes 
Ct of Appeal (Johnson)    ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Hoffstadt)  ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Edmon)      Yes      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Collins)    Yes      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Manella)    Yes      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Turner)     ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Yegan)      ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Perluss)    ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Rubin)      ---      Yes       Yes
Ct of Appeal (Flier)      Yes      Yes       Yes
Superior Court, Office 61 Lewis    Lewis     Lewis  
Superior Court, Office 87 Stein    Stein     Stein


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