Wednesday, April 29, 2015

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: The Protester From Yesterday's Supreme Court Argument

This week for Godless Wednesday I figured I would feature another examples of abusive behavior by the "godfearing." Yesterday, during oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court about whether civil marriage must be available to same-sex couples in every state of the union, the guy pictured above, Rives Miller Grogan, disrupted the proceedings by yelling out "If you support gay marriage then you will burn in hell!" and as he was being hustled out of the room "It's an abomination!"

Lovely, hmmm?

Even more bothersome, in my opinion and others, was Justice Scalia's response, which was "It was rather refreshing, actually." Really? "Refreshing"? In what way, exactly?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

TENNIS TUESDAY: Djokovic Skips Madrid; Kerber On Clay Hot Streak; Isner Turns 30; Mauresmo On Maternity Leave

Kerber On 11-Match Winning Streak On Clay; Keys, Sharapova, Wozniacki In Her Wake
Building on her win on the green clay of Charleston a few weeks by coming back from 1-4 down in the final set to defeat Madison Keys, German Angelique Kerber has been absolutely on fire during the clay season so far. She defeated the reigning French Open champion on Thursday and then continued her winning ways by coming back from 3-5 down in the final against Caroline Wozniacki to ride the hometown crowd support to snatch the Stuttgart title. This is her 5th career title and she had to defeat two Top 5 players to do it, which she did in two 3-set thrillers.

John Isner Turns 30
John Isner had a big birthday on Sunday, turning thirty years old. The Top American has not made as much an impact in the majors as Andy Roddick but in this era of men's tennis it is very possible for 30-somethings to have success on the tour and hoping that continues with Isner in the next few years.

Djokovic Says Enough Is Enough; Gives Someone Else A Chance To Win Something!
After winning the first three Masters series titles of 2015, World #1 Novak Djokovic has decided to withdraw from next week's Madrid Masters. Since he also didn't play last year he is not losing any ranking points. I'm sure the rest of men's field thanks Nole and wishes him a peaceful week!

Mauresmo Is Pregnant And Taking Time Off From Coaching Andy Murray 
Andy Murray has made an important statement for women's equality in sports by naming former WTA #1 Amelie Mauresmo as his coach. Mauresmo, 35,  announced recently that she is expecting her first child in August, and while she is on maternity leave (an issue which has never come up before for the coach of an elite men's player) she will be replaced (temporarily) by Jonas Bjorkman.

Wawrinka Getting Divorced And Nobody's Happy
Stan Wawrinka had previously separated from his wife (ostensibly in order to focus on his tennis) but later reconciled well before he won his first Grand Slam title in Australia last year. Recently he announced that the two are definitely getting divorced and his wife issued a statement of her own clarifying her side of the story. His results have been spotty in 2015, with the former World #3 now down to #9 in the latest rankings.

Serena Officially 3rd Longest Stay At #1 (Behind Steffi and Martina)
Serena Williams has now been World #1 for 114 weeks in a row, which is third all-time, behind Martina Navratilova's 156 weeks (3 solid years!!) and Steffi Graf's 186 weeks and just 1 week ahead of Chris Evert's 113 weeks. Her current streak is exactly twice as long as her longest previous hold on the #1 ranking at 57 weeks. She has been #1 on 6 different occasions in her career. In her current #1 streak only 8 players have beaten her, but bizarrely Alize Cornet has done so three times!

Gaytterdämmerung II: SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments In Obergefell v Hodges

Today is the day that many people have been waiting for. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments about two questions that will decide whether same-sex couples will be able to get married in every state in the nation, and secondly, whether when they are married in a jurisdiction that allows it, will other jurisdictions be forced to recognize those marriages. If it seems like we just recently had a significant case from the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage,we did, but it was two years ago. I was actually in DC at the time so I went by the Court to witness the spectacle of wheat happens before a major case.

In those cases, Proposition 8 ended up being held to remain invalidated (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down (United States v. Windsor).

Today's case was Obergefell v Hodges and you should read the always excellent SCOTUS blog for complete coverage and a plain-english explanation of what happened. Apparently, no one is very sure of what the final decision will be. That really, can be considered something of a win for the heterosexual supremacists because they have spent the last 18 months or so losing literally dozens of cases before federal judges who have been striking down bans on same-sex marriage using the United States Constitution and the reasoning contained in Windsor.

If the Court does decide that there is NOT a fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples *and* that states do not have to be forced to recognize marriages from one state that could not be performed in their state, then the Washington Post has a good map and explanation of what the state of play could be.
Only 11 states have enacted marriage equality through "majoritarian democratic" processes so far, so it would mean that there would be battles going on in 39 different states to change the law. This would potentially include California, where Proposition 8 is not the law of the land due to a District Court decision that would no longer be valid if the Supreme Court issues a ruling that changes the legal landscape. You can bet that heterosexual supremacists would start litigating to have Proposition 8 re-instated and LGBT activists would rush to collect signatures to have a 2016 vote on the question.

The 21 states whose marriage laws have been struck down by lower federal courts and where couples have been getting married legally would suddenly have their marriages thrown into limbo (although it is more likely than not those marriages would be deemed valid, but it might take another Supreme Court case to resolve that issue).

Let's hope the Justices do the right thing and realize that there is no harm to opposite-sex couples when same-sex couples are allowed to marry.

Hat/tip to Scotus Blog and Joe.My.God

Monday, April 27, 2015

QUEER QUOTE: Openly Gay Hotelier Who hosted Event For Ted Cruz Apologizes In Wake Of Backlash

The interwebs have been buzzing for the last week with the news that Texas U.S. Senator (and Republican presidential candidate) Ted Cruz attended an event hosted by two prominent openly gay hoteliers in New York City last week and in that setting seemed to tone down his virulently anti-gay rhetoric.

The New York Times broke the story of the event hosted by millionaires Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner and negative reaction from LGBT activists was swift.
Facebook page calling for a boycott of The Out NYC Hotel and other properties owned by Weiderpass and Reisner had almost 7,000 likes Saturday afternoon, and at least two events have already been canceled at their properties. A protest rally is scheduled for Monday evening outside the Out NYC. 
On Saturday morning, the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus abruptly canceled its annual spring fundraiser, scheduled for later in the day at Out NYC. While the chorus did not explicitly cite the controversy or the Cruz meeting, it said it “made the decision because we want to be 100% clear in our support for the LGBTQ community.”
Initially the two released statements clarifying that the event was NOT a fundraiser for Cruz and that they thought that the meeting was important for dialogue. However, today's Queer Quote is from the apology posted by Reisner to Facebook in the last twenty-four hours:
"I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake. I was ignorant, naive and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights. I've spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz' statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry. I sincerely apologize for hurting the gay community and so many of our friends, family, allies, customers and employees. I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement. Again, I am deeply sorry."
They really thought that having a private meeting with a Republican presidential candidate who does not believe in fundamental rights for LGBT people would not be a problem? Or maybe they thought that no one would find out about it? Either way it will be very interesting to see how the GOP candidates for president negotiate their way through the minefield of LGBT equality in the next few days, especially, and all the way up to the 2016 election.

Hat/tip to Wonkette

EYE CANDY: Pietro Boselli

Pietro Boselli is a 27-year-old smoking hot Italian model who also happens to have a Ph.D. in Engineering and a half-million followers on Instagram. He has been called "the perfect male specimen" by Out magazine and dubbed "the hottest maths teacher in the world" by multiple media outlets after one of his student's posting to social media went viral last month.

The 6-foot-1 hunk teaches mathematical modeling at the  University College London and also spends some time modeling when he is not teaching.

Apparently his classes are well-attended. I think you can see why!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Game Of Thrones (S5E02): "The House of Black and White"

Episode of 2 of Season 5 of HBO's Game Of Thrones aired this week and is titled "The House of Black and White." This episode (S5E02) features Arya Stark, the one main character who did not appear at all in last week's (S5E01) "The Wars To Come." Since Arya is one of my favorite characters I am pleased that the show caught up with her story so quickly

I think this episode is really about shades of gray. Arya has basically devoted herself to a life of revenge for the horrible things that have happened to the her family (Lord Eddard Stark beheaded due to the treachery of Joffrey Barratheon; the death of her mother and brother at the Red Wedding). She basically sees all people in "stark" terms as either friend and foe (and most people are foes). Interestingly, Arya's death list has shrunk to just four people  (Cersei Lannister, Walder Frey, The Mountain, and Ser Meryn Trant). Arya has made her way to Braavos in order to join the guild of shape-shifting assassins called The Faceless Men.

Another character who is shown not  appreciating nuance in this episode is Daenerys who decides to execute one her supporters in Mereen after the former slave takes the law into his own hands and executes one of the former slave-owners associated with the Sons of the Harpy group who was awaiting trial for killing one of the Unsullied last week. "The law is the law" says Dany firmly, but when Daario does the deed the assembled audience hisses at their Mhysa and the beginnings of a riot ensues as former slaves and former slave-owners try to kill each other.

Cersei Lannister is not known for her willingness to see both sides of a situation and she (rightly) interprets a missive from Dorne containing her daughter's unique jewelry as a threat to the life of Myrcella. This fear for her daughter's well-being is well-founded as Ellaria Sand is shown castigating Prince Doran Martell (her deceased lover's brother) for being unwilling to take revenge on their Barratheon hostage guest for the death of Oberyn Martell.

Really the only characters who we know are smart enough to have nuanced views are Varys and Tyrion Lannister, and they have an amusing and interesting dialogue about the futility of trying to make the world a better place.

Two other characters who  we know see things in more details than just black and white are Jon Snow and Stannis Barratheon. They have some good scenes together this week when Stannis offers Jon his heart's desire of becoming a real Stark and the Lord of Winterfell--if Jon just "bends the knee" and pledges fealty to Stannis as the true claimant to the Iron Throne (and forsakes his oath to the Night's Watch). Somewhat surprisingly, Jon doesn't get a chance to accept or decline this offer because instead he gets elected as the 998th Lord Commander with Aemon Targaryen casting the last, deciding vote.

The best parts of the episode were:
  • The return of Drogon, the largest child of the Mother of Dragons
  • The setting for the famous Water Gardens of Dorne (apparently some fancy Spanish castle) looks incredible
  • The banter between Bronn and Jaime Lannister bodes well for their mission to Dorne to try and rescue Myrcella
  • The best lines of the show were of course between Tyrion and Varys: "Are we really going to spend the entire trip to Volantis discussing the futility of everything?" (Varys to Tyrion) and Tyrion's reply "You're right. No point."
  • Another highlight was the fact that Brienne was able to run into the second Stark daughter she swore an oath to Lady Catelyn to defend, a brilliant departure from the books where despite her oath Brienne never runs into either of the Stark girls. In the show, the tragedy is thta both Stark girls reject Brienne's offer of protection.
The parts of the episode I could have done without:
  •  Even though I was happy to see more Arya, the scenes in Braavos did not seem to  make much sense. What did Arya do to get the attention of the Faceless Men? Why did they not let her in to the House of Black and White when she first arrived? Hopefully we will learn more later on because the reasons were not revealed this week.

Grade: 9/10.

Overall: This was definitely a better episode than last week, and brought forward the story of many of the fan favorite characters (like Arya, Drogon, Bronn and Brienne) and set up scenarios which will become even more important later in the season (Dorne,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

SATURDAY POLITICS: Poll Shows Marriage Equality Support Above 60%

A new poll from ABC News/Washington Post indicates that support for marriage equality is at an all-time high just as the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case (Obergefell v. Hodges) that could strike down the remaining state marriage bans next week. There are 37 states that have marriage equality right now, and the latest poll says that 61% of all respondents support marriage equality with only 35% in opposition. More interesting is the fact that intensity of support is with the proponents of marriage equality (40% strongly support marriage equality as opposed to 25% that oppose marriage equality strongly).

The Washington Post analysis of the new poll says:
There are 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, where, through the legislative process or court order, gay couples are allowed to marry. In those place, 64 percent say such unions should be legal. But even in the 13 states where same-sex marriage is not legal, 54 percent say it should be. 
The public’s perspective on whether states may forbid same-sex marriage mirrors overall views on the subject, according to the poll. Sixty-one percent oppose allowing states to prohibit same-sex marriages, and 62 percent support requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
There are some people who say there will be a popular opinion backlash if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality but a recent report from the Williams Institute shows the reverse is true. Opening up marriage to same-sex couples in the past has accelerated the rate at which popular support for marriage equality increases.

The report (Trends in Public Support for Marriage for Sa,e-Sex Couples 2004-2014) concludes:
There are 36 states and the District of Columbia presently with a majority (50% or above) in support of same-sex marriage. And, given trends in public opinion on this issue over the last decade, at least an additional five states will join this group by the start of 2016, with six more states very close to that majority point. 
All states are currently experiencing a trend reflecting increasing popular support for marriage for same-sex couples; the rates of change across states averaged 2.6% over the last ten years. For almost all of the states the rate of change of support has accelerated over the last two years. Since 2012, states have increased support by 6.2% on average. 
Hat/tip to Wonder Man

Friday, April 24, 2015

Both 2014 French Open Champs Lose Clay Matches In Europe

The two best players on clay last year, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, who respectively won the men's and women's 2014 French Open have suffered surprising losses in European red clay tournaments this week.

Sharapova, lost in Stuttgart to Angelique Kerber where she was the defending champion and had a 13-match winning streak. Nadal lost in Barcelona, a tournament he has won 8 times previously. He lost to Fabio Fognini on clay for the second time this year.  (The Italian hottie beat Nadal earlier this year in Brazil.)

Both matches were relatively close, with Nadal losing 6-4, 7-6(6) despite being up a break three(!) times in the second set. Sharapova lost 2-6 7-5 6-1 against Kerber playing inspired defense in front of a partisan crowd of her compatriots.

Patrik-Ian Polk's Adaptation Of Black Gay Classic Blackbird Opening TODAY

I'm very excited to report that Patrik-Ian Polk's Blackbird is finally getting a cinematic release today more than a year after its premiere at the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles last year (which I attended). It was #10 on my Best Films of 2014 list.

Blackbird will be opening in these theaters in  Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York City today:

  • Atlanta AMC Phipps Plaza AMC Southlake Pavilion 
  • Los Angeles AMC Town Center 8 TCL Chinese Theatre Los Angeles Cinemark 18 
  • Washington DC City Cinemas Angelika Pop UP DC ArcLight Bethesda 
  • New York City AMC Village AMC Empire 25
  • San Francisco AMC Metreon
NPR's popular Morning Edition ran a story about the film today, discussing it's association with Black billionaire Robert Johnson (the funder of Black Entertainment Television) and his new "Black Netflix" online service called Urban Movie Channel. 

I'm just excited that this very good film, with central Black gay characters based on a seminal Black gay novel (Larry Duplechan's Blackbird) is finally getting out to the masses.  I've seen it twice and I may see it again! I strongly encourage you to check it out this weekend!

Here's the trailer:

Hat/tip to Waddie G!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Haters Propose Initiative To Regulate Where Gender Non-Conforming People Can Pee

Now that heterosexual supremacists and religious fundamentalists have realized they have lost the culture war completely on the question of marriage equality they are moving on to other issues, like "religious freedom" and protecting people who believe they have a constitutional right to deny services and public accommodations to other people due to their "sincerely held beliefs" about marriage. Oh and proposing ballot measures to require executions of homosexuals.

One of these issues the homophobic conservative right is pivoting to is about gender-nonconforming people and bathrooms. You think LGBT people are interested in the genitals of other people? We are nowhere as interested as the Pacific Justice Institute, which is so obsessed with the issue they want to have a multi-million dollar ballot campaign in the heat of a presidential campaign to discuss the politics and biology of sex and gender. What could go wrong, right?

They have filed the "Personal Privacy Protection Act" with the California Attorney General which would amend the California code to include the language:
 Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person shall use facilities in accordance with their biological sex in all government buildings. 
So, yes, basically they want to make sure that only people with the "right" plumbing get to pee in the right places. Why do they care? Because they want to demonize people they do not like as predators.
This issue of gender-neutral bathrooms enrages (and befuddles) me because isn't it everyone's experience at home that all bathrooms can be used by all people of any gender? Why shouldn't that be the case in public? Why shouldn't ALL bathrooms be private? The idea of "group" bathrooms (i.e. urinals) is the atavistic notion that should be abolished, not the idea that people who and gender-nonconforming or transgender have to get the permission of the state to determine which bathroom to use in a public bathroom. That is insanity. They are convinced that sex is a binary despite all evidence to the contrary that not only is SEX not binary, neither is GENDER. However, they want to put into state law a definition of biological sex that reads:
 Biological sex means the biological condition of being male or female as determined at or near the time of birth or through medical examination or as modified by Health & Safety Code § 103425. 
But what happens if someone's sex is indeterminate (intersexuals) or someone's sex NOW is different from what their sex was determined to be "at or near the time of birth"? I guess no public bathroom for you, if the PPPA is passed by California voters.

One of the proponents of the measure named Kevin Snider is quoted in the Los Angeles Times claims that people who don't believe in the "biological reality of two sexes" are "science deniers." I would definitely put myself in the camp of many people who think there may be atleast five sexes! I think Mr. Snider needs to read up on the latest scientific research on the nature of sex and gender:
Sex can be much more complicated than it at first seems. According to the simple scenario, the presence or absence of a Y chromosome is what counts: with it, you are male, and without it, you are female. But doctors have long known that some people straddle the boundary — their sex chromosomes say one thing, but their gonads (ovaries or testes) or sexual anatomy say another. Parents of children with these kinds of conditions — known as intersex conditions, or differences or disorders of sex development (DSDs) — often face difficult decisions about whether to bring up their child as a boy or a girl. Some researchers now say that as many as 1 person in 100 has some form of DSD.
But, sure, let's have a conversation about which side is denying science and data. Spoiler alert, it is not going to be the group which thinks that sexual orientation can be changed by "therapy."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

TENNIS TUESDAY: Fed Cup Final Set; Djokovic Amasses Huge Lead For #1

Fed Cup Final Set Between Czech Republic and Russia
Czech Republic with Petra Kvitova was able to easily dismiss France while Russia was able to get past Germany despite the absence of World #2 Maria Sharapova by winning the doubles rubber. The Fed Cup final will be held between Russia and Czech Republic in November in Russia. This will be the fourth year in the last five the Czech team has been in the final (they lost in the semifinals in 2013 to Italy).

United States Fails To Make World Group Despite Serena Playing 3 Matches
Serena Williams made a rare appearance in Fed Cup this weekend against Italy on clay and despite winning both her single matches (against Sara Errani and Camila Giorgi) the USA failed to secure a victory. Serena teamed up with Ali Riske in the deciding doubles rubber but the Americans could not withstand the pressure from Flavia Pennetta and Errani and lost the tie 2-3. Venus Williams and Madison Keys did not participate in the tie for unspecified reasons.

Djokovic On 17-Match Winning Streak
World #1 Novak Djokovic is on a 17-match winning streak (35-2 for 2015) which has provided him with three consecutive ATP Masters series titles: Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo. This is the first time anyone has won the first three Masters tournaments of the year and this result has the Serbian with a staggering lead over World #2 Roger Federer.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 HUGOS: The Three-Body Problem Joins Best Novel List After Withdrawal

The drama around the 2015 Hugo awards continues to build, with mainstream media starting to pay more attention to the fracas. I myself have decided to buy a $40 supporting membership so that I can vote on the awards this year, something I would have never done if the machinations of the execrable Vox Day and others who are either willfully or witlessly pursuing similarly questionable goals of freeping the Hugo awards had not been brought to my attention by John Scalzi and others. Happily, this means that I will be able to participate in the process of nominating for the 2016 Hugo Awards as well. Anything I can do to stand with people like Scalzi, Martin and Connie Willis against people who think they need to "take back" something because those people think that we should "go back to the good old days" is something I am happy to contribute to.

Anyway, there are some silver linings to be had and one of them is that the great book The Three-Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu (translated into English by Ken Liu) has been added to the list of nominees for Best Novel for the 2015 Hugo Awards with the withdrawal by Markos Kloos of his book from that category thanks to its inclusion on the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies slate and his aversion to being associated with them.

So, the final list of nominees for Best Novel are now:

  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
  • The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
The winner will be announced on August 22. I would be fine with any of these winning, except for Kevin Anderson, who is responsible for the horrors that are the recent "XXX of Dune" books he coauthors with Brian Herbert.

EYE CANDY: Alan Taurus (reprise)

Alan Taurus has appeared as Eye Candy once before (February 23, 2015). I didn't have much information about him then and I still don't. However, it is still very clear  that he is phyne enough to be Eye Candy.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 MONTE CARLO: Djokovic Wins 3rd Masters Title of 2015; Now 17-0!

World #1 Novak Djokovic continued his unbeaten streak in 2015 to 17 matches with a surprisingly tough 3-set match over Tomas Berdych 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the finals of the 2015 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament. It was Djokovic's 3rd Masters series title of 2015 the first time anyone has won the first three prestigious titles to start the year, and comes just weeks after Djokovic became the first man to pull off the Indian Wells-Miami double for the 3rd time.

With his win, Djokovic  now has 23 ATP Masters 1000 titles, tying him for #2 on the all-time list, just 4 titles behind Rafael Nadal, who has 6 more Grand Slam titles than he does. Djokovic now has a record lead of 5,460 points over the #2 player, 17-time major champion Roger Federer. 

In 2011, Djokovic amassed a 41-match winning streak and won 5 Masters series titles and 3 Grand Slam tournaments. Could we be seeing a reprise of this performance in 2015?

Game Of Thrones (S5E01): "The Wars To Come"

Episode of 1 of Season 5 of HBO's Game Of Thrones aired this week. Episode S5E01 is titled "The Wars To Come" and has the heavy burden of setting the tone for the entire season as well as re-acclimating the audience to the complicated story of the multiple character drama.

The episode began with the series very first flashback scene, ever. It featured a young Cersei Lannister getting her fortune told by a witch, who rightly tells her "everyone wants to know their future, until they know their future." Cersei is told that she will not marry the Prince she is currently betrothed to but that she will be Queen, but only until a younger prettier woman comes along and that she will have three children who will have "gold as their crowns and gold as their shrouds." The key point to note here is that beginning with Cersei, the showrunners are emphasizing how she is central to many of the events that happen in Season 5, as the death of her father Lord Tywin Lannister (the richest and most powerful man in Westeros) at the end of Season 4 causes a power vacuum, that Cersei despite her flailing attempts, is unable to fill.

The episode begins with a shot of Tywin's body lying in state in the Great Sept of Baelor and then we get a dizzying series of interactions of Cersei at Tywin's funeral (her uncle Kevan Lannister, her distant cousin/boy toy Lancel Lannister, her betrothed Loras Tyrell, and er brother Jaime Lannister).
One thing the episode does very well is catch us up on the story for almost all the many characters we are following. There are appearances by Tyrion and Varys in Pentos, Daenerys and Daario (and her two captive dragons) in Mereen, Brienne and Pod, Sansa and Littlefinger and Jon Snow and Mance Ryder and Stannis and Melissandre at the wall. The only "main" characters we don't see in the first episode are the other Stark children: Arya and Bran (and Rickon, of course).

The best parts of the episode were:

  • The sheer grandeur of the Great Sept of Baelor and the impressive scale of the Harpy Statue in Mereen were pretty awesome to see.
  • They finally named the two smaller dragons, Rhaegar and Viserion, as well as showing that even these two are a handful to deal with.
  • The best lines of the show were both about Daenerys: "A dragon queen without dragons is not a queen"(Daario Naharis, to Dany)  and "Who said anything about 'him'?" (Varys to Tyrion)
  • Loved the fact that Jon did the right thing by putting Mance out of his misery while he was being burned alive by The Red Lady but did he really need to make it so obvious that he was the one who fired the shot?
  • I'm not really complaining per se about the show's willingness to depict same-sex nooky as part of its commitment to sexposition but it would be nice if they rounded out the depiction of Ser Loras as more than just Margaery's gay brother.
The parts of the episode I could have done without:
  • Did we really need female frontal nudity in the brothel scene before the anonymous Unsullied guy got his throat cut?
  • Did we really need to know the details of how Tyrion's poop was dealt with while he was stuck in a box for the duration of a long ship voyage across the Narrow Sea?

Grade: 8/10.

Overall: A decent start to an intriguing season of my favorite show on television.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Djokovic-Nadal XLIII: Nole Wins Easily To Reach Monte Carlo Final Against Berdych

As I predicted yesterday, Novak Djokovic dispatched the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament 6-3 6-3. Unfortunately, Gael Monfils great run in Monte Carlo ended listlessly in a straights-sets loss to Tomas Berdych.

Djokovic has an 18-2  head-to-head record and will almost certainly win his 3rd consecutive masters series title of the year and his 23rd career title, matching Roger Federer total.

MadProfessah's Prediction: Djokovic.

Friday, April 17, 2015

2015 MONTE CARLO: Semifinals feature Djokovic-Nadal XLIII, Monfils-Berdych

The 2015 ATP Monte Carlo Masters semifinals are set and they feature the usual suspects: World #1 Novak Djokovic, going for his 3rd consecutive Masters series title this year, and World #4 Rafael Nadal. The two will be meeting for a record 43rd time, with Nadal sporting a (tenuous?) 23-19 lead in the head-to-head. Djokovic stopped Nadal's streak of yearly title wins at Monte Carlo at 8 in 2013. The two last met when Nadal beat Djokovic in 4 sets in the final of the 2014 French Open. Last year Stan Wawrinka beat Roger Federer in 3 sets to win his only Masters Series title, this year both Swiss stars fell in the 3rd round.

The other semifinalists are Gael Monfils who dispatched both Federer (for the second consecutive time on clay!) and Grigor Dimitrov this week and Tomas Berdych, who advanced when Milos Raonic retired with a foot injury.

MadProfessah's pick: Djokovic-Monfils final!

QUEER QUOTE: IBM Send Gov. Jindal Letter Opposing Louisiana Proposed RFRA Law

IBM has long been one of the LGBT-friendliest companies to work for, and they are putting their money where their mouth is by sending a letter to Governor Bobby Jindal and the top officials in the legislature opposing Louisiana's plan to enact an even more discriminatory RFRA then the anti-LGBT legislation Indiana and Arkansas had attempted to enact earlier this year.

Louisiana's bill is called the "Marriage and Conscience Act" and what IBM has to say about it is today's Queer Quote:
April 15, 2015 
The Honorable Bobby Jindal Governor, State of Louisiana PO Box 94004 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804-9004  
Dear Governor Jindal, 
I am writing to express IBM's strong opposition to H.B. 707, the Marriage and Conscience Act.  We are deeply concerned by reports that you intend to support this legislation.  
IBM has made significant investments in Louisiana including most recently a technology services delivery center in Baton Rouge, creating new jobs for Louisiana workers.  We located the center in Baton Rouge because we believe Louisiana has great talent and would continue to be a rich source of such talent.  However a bill that legally protects discrimination based on same-sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company’s values.  IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law.  
Our perspective is grounded in IBM's 104-year history and our deep legacy of diversity and inclusion - a legacy to which we remain strongly committed today.  IBM is opposed to discrimination against anyone on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or other protected categories.    
We urge you to work with the Legislature to ensure this legislation is not discriminatory. 
Thank you for considering our views.  
James M. Driesse Senior State Executive  

CC: The Hon. John A. Alario, Jr President, Louisiana State Senate State Capitol Building PO Box 94183 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804 
The Hon. Charles E. Checkley Speaker, Louisiana House of Representatives State Capitol Building PO Box 94062 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70804

Hat/tip to Joe Jervis

Thursday, April 16, 2015

WATCH: Trailer #2 For Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

The second trailer for the new Star Wars movie dropped today and it already has well over 10 million views!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Tennessee State House Passes Bill To Make Bible The State Book

Just in time for Godless Wednesday! Despite the Attorney General of the state saying clearly that the act would be struck down for violating the Tennessee  and United States constitutions, the State Assembly has decided to pass a bill declaring that the Bible is the "state book."

The Holy Bible is the official book of Tennessee in the view of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Despite questions of constitutionality, lawmakers beat back an attempt to make Andrew Jackson's Bible the official book and voted 55-38 in favor of Rep. Jerry Sexton's original bill.
Do these people even care that some people think "The Bible" is just an old book of Jewish fairy tales.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

TENNIS TUESDAY: Frances Tiafoe Goes Pro, Kerber Beats Keys; Mirza Becomes Doubles #1

Frances Tiafoe Turns Pro
17-year-old African-American phenomenon Frances Tiafoe announced last week that he is turning pro and signed with Jay-Z's sports management agency. Tiafoe has been making headlines as the potential future of American's men's tennis for his outstanding junior results. He lost his ATP tour debut in Washington, D.C. last summer and is currently ranked #520 in the world.

Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber Compete In A Second Classic Final                                      Last summer Madison Keys won her first WTA title by outlasting Angelique Kerber on grass at Eastbourne. This weekend they had a reprise of that showdown on clay in the final of the Family Circle Cup but this time Kerber came back from down 1-4 in the final set to win 6-2 4-6 7-5.                                                                                                   
Sania Mirza Becomes First Indian Woman To Be Ranked #1 (In  Doubles)                                     Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are on a roll, having won both the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments. These results combined with the surprising decision by the former World #1 doubles team of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci to stop playing together is that Mirza is now the #1 ranked doubles player in the world.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hillary Clinton Launches Presidential Campaign Led By Openly Gay Robby Mook

Robert (Robby) Mook is the head of Hillary Clinton's
2016 Presidential Campaign
Hillary Rodham Clinton announced tha she is running for President in 2016 on Sunday, but she made some further news by confirming that her campaign manager would be Robby Mook. Mook, 35, is openly gay and a longtime Democratic operative who worked on Hillary's 2008 campaign. Mook also led the campaign of longtime Clintonite Terry Macauliffe for his second (and successful) run for the Governorship of Virginia in 2013.
Hillary Clinton took note of Mook's work on the McAuliffe campaign. She wants desperately to avoid the mistakes of her last race and run a low-drama campaign. Knowing this, advisers and former aides say, it's not surprising she chose Mook. "He's cut from a very different cloth from the bold, brash campaign managers that we hear about so often," says pollster Geoff Garin, who worked with Mook on McAuliffe's 2013 run. "He does not seek out the spotlight and in fact does everything he can to avoid it." 
Mook is widely known as Robby, not Robert, and at 35, he's still boyish—handsome and clean-shaven with close-cropped brown hair. His usual uniform consists of chinos and bland dress shirts rolled up to the elbows. He couldn't be more different from, say, James Carville, the loudmouth Ragin' Cajun who advised Bill Clinton's first presidential bid and now makes a living as a consultant and TV commentator. Mook rarely appears in news stories or on TV. He did not respond to repeated interview requests. He has no Facebook page. He has a Twitter account but never tweets and has forgotten the password. 
Mook, who will be the first openly gay manager of a major presidential campaign, is largely unknown beyond the insular world of Democratic staffers but well liked within it. In addition to the email listserv, his loyal following—the Mook Mafia—plans yearly reunions, during which they return to a state where they once operated for a weekend of bar-hopping mixed with volunteering for a local campaign.
It will be interesting to see if having an openly LGBT person at the head of a Presidential campaign will make a difference policy-wise to how Hillary's campaign is run and the positions she takes.

EYE CANDY: Keith Carlos

Keith Carlos is a well-known model popular on Instagram and Twitter. He was the first male winner of America's Next Top Model and a former NFL player. He is 27-years ld and 6-feet tall and 199 pounds.

And as you can see is hella phyne!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Andy Murray & Kim Sears Got Married In Scotland Today!

World #3 Andy Murray and Kim Sears got married in Dunblane, Scotland today! They are both twenty-seven years old and have been seeing each other for eight years or so. Murray wore  a traditional tartan kilt.

Friday, April 10, 2015

WATCH: San Bernardino Cops Caught On Video Brutalizing Suspect

Hat/tip to The Daily Beast

Celebrity Friday: The Straight Guy Who Will Argue Gay Marriage Before The Supreme Court

Chris Geidner has an interesting profile of Doug Hallward-Driemeier, the straight Canadian lawyer who on Tuesday April 28 will argue before the United States Supreme Court that states should not be allowed to ban recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples from another state.
While he said that the recognition question presents “a distinctive harm” to his clients because it amounts to Tennessee “destroy[ing], as a legal matter, families and marriages that have already been created,” he also said he does not expect the court to reach different answers on the two issues because “the arguments that the states have made are the same on both” questions.
“One of the things that I hope the justices appreciate is that this is not an issue that only affects — we are very clear in our brief that this is not about ‘gay marriage’ … it’s not a different kind of marriage, it’s about marriage and about allowing people who love each other to join in that institution,” he said. “It’s about my family members, my friends, my children. It affects me as it affects others.”
More than that, Doug Hallward-Dreiemeier knows that — while there are no cameras in the courtroom — the audio set to be released that day will be listened to by same-sex couples across the country, looking for signs about whether they will be able to marry or have their marriage recognized elsewhere once a decision comes down.
“It is a huge, huge honor,” he said, “and I sense the hopes and aspirations of so many people that are at stake here. That’s something I carry with me. And I’m just going to do everything I can.”
Hat/tip to Buzzfeed 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Madison, WI Bans Discrimination Against "Non-religious"

Madison, Wisconsin is a well-known bastion of progressive ideas (sorta like a midwest version of Berkeley) so it is pretty surprising that it took so long for someone to think of the idea that maybe it might be a good idea to explicitly protect atheists from discrimination.

Recently, the Madison City Council passed an ordinance doing just that:
In what is believed to be a first in the United States, the Common Council of Madison, Wis., has voted to amend the city's equal opportunities ordinance "to add nonreligion as a protected class."[...]The new legislation inserts the words "or nonreligion" after "religion" in several sections of the city of Madison's legal code.
For example, here's how the city lists its protected class:
"Protected class membership means a group of natural persons, or a natural person, who may be categorized because of their ability to satisfy the definition of one or more of the following groups or classes: sex, race, religion or nonreligion, color, national origin or ancestry, citizenship status, age, handicap/disability, marital status, source of income, arrest record or conviction record, less than honorable discharge, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic identity, political beliefs, familial status, student, domestic partner, or receipt of rental assistance."
Surely that's a typo that "gender identity" appears twice? (I suspect one of those is "gender expression.") What does seem surprising is that this would be the first ordinance of its kind. Especially considering that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is based in Madison!

Monday, April 06, 2015

The First Family Official Easter Photo

The first family released a new picture in conjunction with Easter 2015. The full family is (left to right) Malia, Michelle, Barack, Sasha and the dogs in front are Bo and Sunny. Damn, will Barack's hair be full on grey by the time he leaves in 2017? That is a ROUGH job!

Hat/tip to Wonder Man

EYE CANDY: Antonio Stephen

Antonio Stephen is a fitness model of Caribbean descent (Trinidad and Tobago). He has an Instagram account as well as Facebook. He came to my attention via the Man Crush blog.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin