Monday, February 29, 2016

ACTION: Advocate For A U.S. Stamp Honoring Black LGBT Hero Bayard Rustin!

The National LGBTQ Task Force is promoting an action which
encourages people to advocate for a U.S. postage stamp recognizing  Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree Bayard Rustin.

They are encouraging people to write letters to the U.S. Postal Service which advocate for the creation of a stamp that would honor the life and work of this openly gay, African-American civil rights pioneer.

As the Task Force puts it:
Bayard Rustin was the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, who was an openly gay man and an LGBTQ activist. In 2013, Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In awarding the medal, the President said, “For decades, this great leader, often at Dr. King’s side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay.”
Here is a sample text of a letter that you can contribute to the campaign::

(Insert your address)

Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
C/O Stamp Development 
US Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501

To whom it may concern,

I write to commend one of the most significant and yet unsung heroes of the civil rights movement for the honor of a commemorative US postage stamp.

This person is Bayard Rustin, the chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, who was an openly gay man and an LGBTQ activist.

In 2013, Rustin was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In awarding the medal, the President said, "For decades, this
great leader, often at Dr. King's side, was denied his rightful place in history because he was openly gay."

No we have the chance to help right this wrong. With this commemorative stamp, we can give Rustin and his legacy the public
awareness and recognition they deserve. 

It’s time to honor a true hero of the on-going fight for civil rights.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours faithfully,

I'm going to write a letter, are you?

2016 OSCARS: The Winners

Here is the list of winners of the 2016 Oscars. This year I correctly predicted 6 of the top 8 categories correctly. Best Picture for Spotlight took almost everyone by surprise, since no Best Picture had ever occurred with only one other win it (also took home Best Original Screenplay). Mad Max: Fury Road cemented its status as the best film of 2015  with six(!) wins in the technical categories, with The Revenant only managing to win in tree categories when the personality overshadowed the vehicle: Iñárritu for Director (for the second year in a row!), Dicaprio for Best Actor (finally!) and Chivo Lubezki for Cinematography for the third year in a row (Gravity, Birdman, The Revenant).
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian, Brooklyn and Carol were all shut out while other Best Picture nominees Room, The Big Short and Bridge of Spies each won one award.

The only other major shock of the night was the surprise win of Sam Smith's execrable Writing's on the Wall winning the Best Song Oscar over Lady Gaga and Dianne Warren's Till It Happens To You.
  • Best PictureSpotlight
  • Actor in a Lead Role: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Actress in a Lead Role: Brie Larson, Room
  • Directing: Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
  • Original Score: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
  • Original Song: "Writings on the Wall," Spectre, Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Hungary, Son of Saul
  • Live Action Short FilmStutterer, Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
  • Documentary FeatureAmy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
  • Documentary Short SubjectA Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Animated Feature FilmInside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
  • Animated Short FilmBear Story, Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
  • Visual EffectsEx Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
  • Sound MixingMad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  • Sound EditingMad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White
  • Film EditingMad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
  • CinematographyThe Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
  • Makeup and HairstylingMad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  • Production DesignMad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
  • Costume DesignMad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
  • Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Best Adapted ScreenplayThe Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
  • Original ScreenplaySpotlight, Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

EYE CANDY: Steven Beck

Steven Beck is a well-known trainer and model. He has his own website and has social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016 OSCARS: My Final Prediction of the Winners

Below are my predictions for the Top 8 categories for the 88th annual Academy AwardsLast year I correctly predicted 7 of the Top 8 categories. Below I put in red the movie or person I want to win, and in blue the person I think actually will win.
Best Picture
  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight
SHOULD WIN: The Big Short 
WILL WIN: The Revenant

Best Director
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, "The Revenant"
  • Lenny Abrahamson, "Room"
  • Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
  • Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
  • George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
SHOULD WIN: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
WILL WIN: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Best Actress
  • Cate Blanchett, "Carol"
  • Brie Larson, "Room"
  • Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy"
  • Charlotte Rampling, "45 Years"
  • Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn"
SHOULD WIN: Brie LarsonRoom
WILL WIN: Brie Larson, Room

Best Actor
  • Bryan Cranston, "Trumbo"
  • Matt Damon, "The Martian"
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"
  • Michael Fassbender, "Steve Jobs"
  • Eddie Redmayne, "The Danish Girl"
SHOULD WIN: Leonardo Dicaprio, The Revenant
WILL WIN: Leonardo Dicaprio, The Revenant

Best Supporting Actress
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight"
  • Rooney Mara, "Carol"
  • Rachel McAdams, "Spotlight"
  • Kate Winslet, "Steve Jobs"
  • Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"
SHOULD WIN: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
WILL WIN: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Best Supporting Actor
  • Christian Bale, "The Big Short"
  • Mark Ruffalo, "Spotlight"
  • Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies"
  • Sylvester Stallone, "Creed"
  • Tom Hardy, "The Revenant"
SHOULD WIN: Tom HardyThe Revenant
WILL WIN: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Best Original Screenplay
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton
SHOULD WIN: Ex Machina
WILL WIN: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room
SHOULD WIN: The Martian

Oscar Totals:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (5)
2. The Revenant (4)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Novak Djokovic Will Soon Have The Highest Win-Loss Percentage Of All Time In Tennis

Novak Djokovic is poised to reach another milestone, just days after he notched his 700th ATP win. He is currently tied with Bjorn Borg with the highest win-loss percentage of all time (82.74%). Borg finished his career with 609 wins and 127 losses (due to retiring early) but Djokovic is currently at 700W-146L, his coach Boris Becker coyly pointed out on Instagram today. (Becker himself is #10 on the all0-time list with a 713W-127L record which is 76.91%).

Novak is currently tied with Borg in another important metric (11 career major titles won) but since the current World #1 is 12-0 for 2016 he is almost certainly going to exceed Borg in both win-loss percentage and total majors won very soon.

If Djokovic does make significant progress toward's Federer's total of 17 majors then the discussion of Greatest of al time will most definitely have to include the Serbian.

Monday, February 22, 2016

EYE CANDY: Tyrone and Johnell (reprise)

Johnell Tyrell and Tyrone Wells are a gay Black male couple who have been featured as Eye Candy here before (August 3, 2015). They are both popular on Instagram (Tyrone is @tyronewells and Johnell is @johnell_.)

They take great pictures together and separately. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

2016 NEBULA AWARDS: Nominations Announced!

The nominations for the 2016 Nebula Award have been announced on Saturday. The most important category is Best Novel, and here are the nominees:

  • Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen) 

  • The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK) 

  • Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK) 

  • The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga) 

  • Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey) 

  • Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor) 

  • Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)
This list was predicted two days ago by the Chaos Horizons blog. Of these books, I have read Ancillary Mercy and The Fifth Season (and enjoyed them both). I have also read the first two books of Charles Gannon's Terran Republic trilogy and thought they were okay. However, it is very impressive that all three books in the trilogy have now been nominated for the Nebula award (has that happened before?). The two previous books in the series are Fire with Fire which lost to Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice in 2014 and Trial by Fire which lost to Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation in 2015.

I am looking forward to reading Updraft (which is a debut novel and is also nominated in the Young Adult category) as well as Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard.

Friday, February 19, 2016

QUEER QUOTE: Nike Severs Ties With Manny Pacquiao After Homophobic Remarks

Hmmm! After another homophobic outburst from boxing champion Manny Pacquiao Nike has responded by severing their business relationship with him, calling his marks "abhorrent."

Nike's statement is today's Queer Quote:
We find Manny's Pacquiao's comments abhorrent. Nike strongly oppose discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for rights of the LGBT community. 
We no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.
What did Pacquiao say? Oh he just claimed to be quoting the Bible that gay people are worse than animals:
“It’s common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female?“The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”
Hmmmmm, obviously Pacquiao hasn't seen this video!

Monday, February 15, 2016

EYE CANDY: Jordan Calloway

Jordan Calloway is a 25-year-old African American actor best known for his appearances in Life of a King (2013) starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Drumline: A New Beat (2014). As these pictures, indicate, he's hella phyne!


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Ding Dong Scalia Is Dead! Obama Will Get 3rd SCOTUS Pick!

Wow! There are multiple reports (first broken by the San Antonio Times) that 79-year-old Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving member of the United States Supreme Court (appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986) has been found dead at a ranch in Texas.

This means that President Barack Obama will have a 3rd opportunity to appoint a Justice to the Court. Previously he has appointed Sonia Sotomayor (2009) and Elena Kagan (2010)

The Republicans will almost certainly claim there is not enough time to approve a justice who will be breaking the now 4-4 tie between left-leaning and right-leaning remaining on the Court.

Regardless, the Supreme Court will become a major factor in the 2016 presidential race and that has to increase turnout and help the Democratic nominee.

Friday, February 12, 2016

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Andy Murray's Wife Kim Had A Baby Girl This Week

Andy Murray, just over a week after losing in the finals of the Australian Open for the fifth time, got a consolation award of a sort when his wife Kim had their first child, a baby girl weighing 8 pounds and 10 pounces, in the middle of the night on February 9. Judy Murray, who is now a grandma, tweeted out the picture above of Andy's famous post box (which was painted gold after he won the Gold Medal at the 2012 London Olympics) with pink ribbons.

Congratulations, Andy!

Curiously, now all of the four highest ranked players at the top of men's tennis are fathers. Novak Djokovic is expecting his second child, Murray just had his first. Roger Federer has two sets of twins (ages 2 and 6) while Stan Wawrinka has one child with his ex-wife.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

TENNIS TUESDAY: Kerber Soars To #2; Venus Returns To Indian Wells; Federer Has Knee Surgery

After winning her first major title by surprisingly defeating Serena Williams in 3 tight sets in the 2016 Australian Open women's final on Saturday January 27th, the #7 seed jumped to World #2 in the rankings. The German player became the first woman from her country since Steffi Graf to win a major title, and the first to reach so high in the rankings. Her win also denied Serna her chance to match Graf's career major title haul of 22.

One year after her sister Serena returned to the second largest tennis tournament in America, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, CA, Venus Williams has announced that she will also be ending her unofficial boycott of the tournament. The two had last played the tournament in 2003 when they were scheduled to play each other in a semifinal and Venus withdrew a mere 30-minutes before the scheduled start time and the crowd got ugly (and racist). Anyway, Serena went on to win the tournament but the two vowed to never play their again. Since the William Sisters are from Southern California it has always been troubling for many that they have been a no-show at the tournament that is closest to their hometown. Anyway, that is over, because both Williams Sisters will be in the draw for the 2016 edition of the tournament. I expect I will be attending!

Roger Federer has undergone knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus he suffered the day after his devastating loss to Novak Djokovic in the 2016 Australian Open men's semifinals. He will miss the indoor hard court tournament in Rotterdam and the Dubai Duty Free Open (where he beat Djokovic to win his 84th major ATP title) but he will play Indian Wells.

The Fed Cup quarterfinals were played this weekend and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic kept the defending champs hopes alive with a gutsy doubles win with Barbara Strycova after also winning both of her singles matches against Romanians Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu. The semifinals are now set, with Czech Republic playing Switzerland and France playing the Netherlands. Switzerland took out Germany in a tough 3-2 match where Belinda Bencic was responsible for all 3 points, including defeating Kerber in straight sets. France took out Italy 4-1 and the Netherlands surprisingly dismissed Russia 3-1.

Monday, February 08, 2016

EYE CANDY: Jovan Rumble

I noticed pictures of Jovan Rumble in my Twitter feed. He is on twitter @jovan_rumble and also has  a Facebook page. He is available for stripograms and to entertain at private events, in the Birmingham (England) area. That's about all I know about him but what I see so far clearly qualifies him to be eye candy!

Friday, February 05, 2016

Science Publishes Article Calling For Elimination Of Racial Categories In Genetics Research

In an important article titled "Taking race out of human genetics" published in Science magazine today, a team of researchers argues that "the use of biological concepts of race in human genetic research—so disputed and so mired in confusion—is problematic at best and harmful at worst. It is time for biologists to find a better way."

I have often taught classes which include the idea(s) that the identity characteristics of sex, gender, race, sexual orientation are socially constructed. This does not mean that these categories are not real, but that these characteristics are not innate, fixed, "natural" properties of human beings; instead the idea is that how we perceive and interact with people according to these categories is contested, time-dependent and malleable.

It's exciting to see a paragraph like this in the world's most prestigious scientific journal:
One reason is that phylogenetic and population genetic methods do not support a priori classifications of race, as expected for an interbreeding species like Homo sapiens (11, 18). As a result, racial assumptions are not the biological guide-posts some believe them to be, as commonly defined racial groups are genetically heterogeneous and lack clear-cut genetic boundaries (10, 11). For example, hemoglobinopathies can be misdiagnosed because of the identification of sickle-cell as a “Black” disease and thalassemia as a “Mediterranean” disease (10). Cystic fibrosis is underdiagnosed in populations of African ancestry, because it is thought of as a “White” disease (19). Popular misinterpretations of the use of race in genetics also continue to fuel racist beliefs, so much so that, in 2014, a group of leading human population geneticists publicly refuted claims about the genetic basis of social differences between races (20). Finally, the use of the race concept in genetics, an issue that has vexed natural and social scientists for more than a century, will not be obviated by new technologies. Although the low cost of next-generation sequencing has facilitated efforts to sequence hundreds of thousands of individuals, adding whole-genome sequences does not negate the fact that racial classifications do not make sense in terms of genetics.
Coincidentally enough, I actually m et one of the authors of this article (Professor Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania) when she visited my place of employment this week. On Tuesday February 2, she gave an impressive talk which summarized some of the key ideas in her latest book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century. The audience was enthralled and Prof. Roberts answered questions matter-of-factly and informatively.

 Overall, it is exciting to see the idea that race is NOT a human biological feature getting more attention.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Pres. Obama Invites L.A. Teen With Perfect AP Calc Score To White House Science Fair

Cedrick Argueta, 17, is in the news this week because the Lincoln High School senior was one of barely a dozen students to earn a perfect score on his Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam. This is quite an achievement, since over 300,000 students take the exam every year. Even President Obama noticed and invited Cedrick to the White House Science Fair.

The Los Angeles Times reports about the reaction to Cedrick's achievement:

Cedrick — a quiet, humble student who is quick to thank his teachers and parents for his success — said he'll join the president at the fair “if his offer still holds.”
The White House Science Fair, hosted by the president, features projects, designs and experiments from students across the country and celebrates students who excel in science, technology, engineering and math.
Cedrick's story has made headlines around the world since his score was announced by the Los Angeles Unified School District last week. He is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults — she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes, and Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes.
“I'm speechless,” Lilian Argueta said Sunday. “I can't believe this is happening.”
Lincoln High School Principal Jose Torres said Cedrick's achievement was inspiring.
I love this story! Lincoln High School is roughly 2 miles from my house and as a professor of Mathematics I interact with students who have taken AP Calculus exams before coming to my college. And I have taught the material on this exam to my students many times. That Cedrick got every single point on the exam is quite amazing, and inspiring!

Monday, February 01, 2016

EYE CANDY: Kyle Sellar

Kyle Sellars is a "South African dancer and fitness model" according to gay blog TowleRoad. He is active on Instagram (@pt_kyle94 ), where he posts pictures of himself that definitely qualify him to be considered Eye Candy. From his username, I would gather that he was born in 1994, but I have no way of verifying this speculation.


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