Jul 25 2016

Pondering the Pundits (One)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Andrea Doria begins to sink after a collision in the North Atlantic; An Air France Concorde crashes outside Paris; First ‘test-tube’ baby born; Golfer Ben Hogan dies; ‘A Chorus Line’ opens on Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In examining the CIA’s past and present use of the U.S. media, the Committee finds two reasons for concern. The first is the potential, inherent in covert media operations, for manipulating or incidentally misleading the American public.

The second is the damage to the credibility and independence of a free press which may be caused by covert relationships with the U.S. journalists and media organizations.

Frank Church

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Jul 24 2016

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart Takes Over Stephen Colbert’s Desk

There are no other political commentators and satirists like Jon Stewart and real Stephen Colbert, not the restrained host of the”Late Show.” Jon Stewart returns to add his view on the RNC nomination of real estate huckster Donald trump for president.

Don’t stay away, Jon. We really need you now.

Jul 24 2016

More about God and why He’s a bad idea.

I told you so.

Look, I’m a flat out Atheist and I never try to hide it. I also never shove it in people’s faces in part because, frankly, it makes me a member of the most despised minority in the United States.

Yup, folks would rather vote for and live in a neighborhood with a Muslim/Jew/Catholic/Black/Brown/Asian/Hispanic/LBGT/Satanist than they would an Atheist (I realize all those qualities are seldom found in a single individual).

In social interaction I often elide my Atheism with Buddhism which some people consider a religion but is really more a personal philosophy of ethical action. In fact you’ll find that most people who are actual Atheists are more concerned about living an ethical life than many who profess a religion are interested in conforming to its precepts.

In many ways this is because Atheists don’t believe in an “after-life”. Dead is dead. A permanent state of unconsciousness from which you never recover. You’ll be pushing up daisies unless they nail you to the perch and in any case you won’t care because you are a past parrot, no matter how beautiful the plumage.

Because of this we try to make the best of the one life we have and instead of being greedy narcissists the vast majority work to make this world a better place. I won’t claim altruism, it’s better for us too.

On the other hand (and seriously, I don’t mean to denigrate your profound personal belief) those who believe in heavenly rewards for faithful service and good works are a little more… mercenary. I expect nothing except my enemies (of whom I have more than a few) poking me with a stick to make sure I’m really dead.

Then there is the question of forgiveness. A God of “Justice” will forgive a life of sin provided your dying breath contains sincere repentance? If I believed that I’d be the biggest asshole the world has ever seen and I’d sincerely repent that I was dead.

Bingo. Pearly Gate City. Hand me my Harp.

And that introduces one of my biggest disputes with what most consider religion. Without some invisible force passing judgement on you, the assumption is that you are free to act with abandon and without constraint.

The Invisible Thief

Many attribute this tale to Socrates, as do I. I certainly don’t claim originality.

So suppose you were an invisible thief and no barrier could stop you. Your thefts make you incredibly rich and powerful to the extent that you can invisibly murder your King, marry his widow, and become King yourself. No one can prove it. No judgemental God will punish it. No paranoid fantasies of someone doing the same to you.

What is the down side?

Well, it is this- you become the kind of person who would do these things and while no one can definitely say you did them everybody knows (because you can’t hide your true personality) that you might have and reacts to you with-


Hello Devil. Welcome to Hell.

Another Big Deal

I also don’t try to hide the fact that I’ve been an Atheist since I was about 12, even from my church choir where I was active until I was 14 or 15 (I was raised a Methodist like W and Hillary and anyone who claims it’s not a fundamentalist religion is deluding themselves with the social equality message that comes from evangelising Black African Slaves in the early 19th Century). I went to Sunday School too until I graduated to the class that met in the Bowling Alley. My teachers hated me but that was typical of most of my teachers.

At that age my primary question was why, if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and beneficent Evil exists?

Now a fully informed and aware Christian (or Muslim or Mormon) would contend it is a test of faith to separate those worthy of eternal life in the presence of God from the riff-raff (He didn’t like me! He NEVER liked me!). What I got was primarily, “Hummena Hummena, how about that Sermon on the Mount and those Loafs and Fishes.”

Well, what is faith?

It’s a belief in something that can not be proven rationally (or as Spock would say- logically, since it’s not internally consistent and contradicts itself) or empirically (a fancy word for Science!) so you just have to take my word for it.

Another thing about Atheists is that we tend to know a little more about religion than actual adherents since most of us have been on a spiritual search (not the same thing as belief in God at all) to justify our instinctive cynicism. My particular crisis was that I could not reconcile Omniscient and Omnipotent with Free Will and Personal Accountability. Deterministic Calvinist Pre-Destination seemed the inevitable outcome and I was and am not willing to accept that. My disbelief was of course reinforced as I gained a deeper knowledge of the history behind the church (that includes all of them, Scientology to Hindu).


Of the religions I studied the one that most attracted me was Judaism (well, after Buddhism) because it wasn’t so much a religion as a tribe. If you are born to a Jewish mother, you’re a Jew. Now a lot of Jews I know don’t practice Judaism, some are Agnostic or Atheist, some are simply non-observant except for Holidays and family milestones, others do unconventional things like Wicca. They’re still Jewish. They can’t help it anymore than I can help being Methodist (in my case it’s 8 years of brainwashing).

And within Judaism you have a wide range of practice from Hasidim to Ultra-Orthodox to Orthodox to Conservative to Reform (pretty much the Unitarian Universalism of Judaism, the refuge of those who want to say they have a religion if anyone asks).

Now as I say I don’t make much pretense. When I’ve been sick they’ve sent the Chaplin in and the first thing I do after they introduce themselves is explain, in a gentle way, that I think it’s all a load of hooey. I do it gently because, of course, they actually believe this stuff and they have a tough job dealing with people who are basically dying (which I am too stubborn and unrepentant to do). After that I invite them to have a chat and we talk about Sports or the Weather. I never argue if they want to make a pitch, I take it and shake their hand when they’re ready to move on. Likewise when I’m forced by ceremony to attend a service I sit and stand when everybody else does. I don’t sing much, but I don’t play games on my Cell either. And I also get why people associate themselves with a church. Less so now but back in the day it was your social life. Not much else to do.

But I’m not running for office. Poll after poll shows that U.S. citizens would rather vote for a baby sacrificing Satanist (or a Muslim, to some people they’re about the same) than an Athiest which is why stories like this are so hurtful-

New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him
by Sam Biddle, The Intercept
July 22 2016, 12:38 p.m.

Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.

To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit

It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

The email was sent to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. It’s unclear who the “someone” in this message could be — though a member of the press seems like a safe bet.

Marshall emails to say “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.” We have asked him who that surrogate could possibly be.

And although Sanders is not mentioned by name, he was the only Jewish candidate from either party — an apparent weakness that Marshall believed the party could exploit in favor of Hillary Clinton.

It is also unclear why the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t supposed to favor one Democratic candidate over another until they receive a nomination, would have attempted to subvert the Sanders campaign on the grounds that “he is an atheist.”

A reply to Marshall’s email from DNC CEO Amy Dacey read only “AMEN.”

Well, it’s really not about anti-Semitism, it’s about anti-Atheism which it seems pretty clear that some people in positions of power at the Democratic National Committee think they can exploit to damage a candidate, a fellow Democrat.

While I’ve seen some coverage of this story that suggests the potential damage would have been marginal (1 or 2%) and Bernie would simply have repeated that he was Jewish and his religious practices were nobody’s damn business but his (indeed might have turned the story around by claiming anti-Semitism, but he’s probably too principled for that), it’s disturbing that in 2016 higher ups at the DNC think it’s AOk to discriminate against Irish or Italian Catholics as long as they happen to be Atheists (“Let them into the Club? Of course not. They’re not our sort.” And if you think this didn’t happen a lot to Catholics you’re far more ignorant of history than I expect.).

And it’s not a religion, it’s a pretty reality based theory that there is no God and never was.

Sorry if that offends you.

Jul 24 2016

The Breakfast Club (Black And White)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

A key ruling during the Watergate scandal; Nixon and Khrushchev hold a ‘kitchen debate’ during the Cold War; Brigham Young and Mormon followers arrive in present-day Utah; Apollo 11’s crew returns home.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The test for whether or not you can hold a job should not be the arrangement of your chromosomes.

Bella Abzug

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Jul 24 2016

Pondering the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Pondering the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

On Sunday mornings we present a preview of the guests on the morning talk shows so you can choose which ones to watch or some do something more worth your time on a Sunday morning.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook; and Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

The roundtable guests are: Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK); and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MI).

Face the Nation: Host John Dickerson’s guest is President Barack Obama.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on this week’s “MTP” are: GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

The panel guests are: Former RNC chair Michael Steele; MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell and Chris Matthews.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: Mr. Tapper’s guests are: Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook; and Donald Trump, Jr.

His panel guests are: Neera Tanden, president of Center for American Progress; Democratic strategist Van Jones; Republican strategist Andre Bauer; pollster Kelly Ann Conway.

Jul 24 2016

Formula One 2016: Hungaroring

Silverstone ended in a bit of controversy. Rosberg was penalized for improper radio transmissions and gave up a place to 3rd. Personally I think the rule is idiotic since they’ve only been using radios since, well… ever and before that it was pit lane chalk boards so what’s the difference? Also it’s not like you can’t work a bit of verbal code to convey important details like, “Your brakes are going off, don’t drive so fast.”

Like so many bad rules it’s both useless and somewhat dangerous.

So Rosberg is now a mere point ahead of Hamilton in the Driver’s Championsip which makes the news that he’s signed a new 2 year contract with Mercedes interesting because it ensures that he and Hamilton who don’t like each other even a little bit will continue their intra-team rivalry until at least 2018.

Qualifying in Hungary was a cock up with rain and accidents cutting huge chunks of time out of the sessions. At the end of Q3 Hamilton had a crash happen right in front of him and the local yellow spoiled his last lap. It was cleared by the time Rosberg went by so he sits on Pole. Likelyhood of rain today is 50% and if it happens it should benefit Hamilton who drives well in the wet. McLaren/Honda got both their cars in the top 8 which marks a vast improvement for their program. Sauber has picked up a new sponsor which will ease their financial problems next year. Renault has been a big disappointment and so has Ferrari, Force India a pleasant surprise. Williams keep looking about 1 piece short of being a contender and Red Bull and Toro Rosso a cesspit of personnel changes and whining despite the fact that Red Bull is 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship right now.

All of which is somewhat important because this is the last race before the annual August break and while I’d be cheating like hell to improve, teams by custom and action don’t do jack.

I’ve mentioned the rain situation, if it does they’ll have as many Wets and Inters as they need, otherwise we have SuperSofts, Softs, and Mediums. The Hungaroring is known for its fast corners and elevation changes which normally play to Hamilton’s strengths. Most of it has been recently repaved (and of course rained on) so the surface is a bit slick even under the best conditions. Rosberg will desperately want a win and as we’ve seen in the past that can lead him to make rash decisions.

Jul 23 2016

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It!!!

Perhaps you’re unconvinced that we live in the End Times and civilization is going to collapse like a House of Cards into a Zombie led Mad Max/Hunger Games Apocalypse despite the best efforts of the Justice League AND the Avengers (c’mon, of course the Justice League is first, Stan Lee never met a good idea he didn’t steal).

Well screw your Global Warming/Imperial Overeach/Neolib Global Economic Depression/Race War fantasies, I have for you the Seventh Seal, the final sign that Judgement Day is nigh. Are you enRaptured yet?

New Yorker becomes first to catch all U.S. Pokemon
By Kate Irby, McClatchy
July 22, 2016 3:31 PM

Nick Johnson said he’s worked 50 hours per week, walked eight miles per day and lost eight pounds.

It sounds like part of a new fitness craze, but it’s really Pokemon Go. And Johnson’s work paid off — the New Yorker is reportedly the first person to catch all the U.S. Pokemon in the smartphone game.

Johnson posted his picture proof to Reddit on Thursday, and many Redditors immediately accused him of cheating or otherwise lying about the accomplishment. The game has been available in the U.S. since July 6, meaning Johnson took about two weeks to accomplish the feat.

But Matt Weinberger, a reporter for Business Insider, said Johnson was a personal friend and he could confirm the picture’s legitimacy.

“Speaking personally, I’ve gotten enough late-night Facebook messages boasting of a new Pokemon capture to vouch for his dedication and thoroughness,” Weinberger wrote.

Frankly, those five brief paragraphs encapsulate exactly why I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Oh, you only think that was Homer Simpson. In fact it was Marilyn Fryser (yes, that Joan Collins) in Empire of the Ants from 1977.

Hey! Don’t shoot! We’re peaceful! Honest to God, alright? — Dan Stokely

More about God and why he’s a bad idea tomorrow.

Jul 23 2016

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Make Vibrant Mezze the Whole Meal

Mashed Eggplant With Capers, Scallions and Parsley photo Mashed Eggplant_zpsz6ouxsfw.jpg

A bowl of olives, a burnished slice of roasted feta cheese, a smoky eggplant dip, perhaps some lemony stuffed grape leaves or a plate of creamy hummus: These are all mezze, tapas-like appetizers that are served at room temperature, meant to accompany drinks and conversation.

Summer is the perfect time to adopt this custom, which is enjoyed throughout the eastern Mediterranean. And even though a vibrant round of mezze can precede a larger feast or main course, an entire informal meal of mezze, served indoors or out, is a brilliant solution for summertime dining.

~ David Tanis ~

Mashed Eggplant With Capers, Scallions and Parsley

Summer is the perfect time to adopt the Mediterranean custom of serving savory little room temperature dishes for casual nibbling, referred to as mezze throughout the Middle East. {..} This lemony Turkish-style eggplant dip fits the bill beautifully, spread on baguette toasts or crisp pita bread.

Cucumbers With Feta, Mint and Sumac

Garden-grown summer cucumbers are ideal for this easy salad, but even hothouse cucumbers are vastly improved with this zesty treatment.

Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes With Red Pepper Dressing

In this salad, thinly sliced zucchini is very briefly blanched, then paired with other summery ingredients and served at room temperature.

Health News

Pennsylvanians Urged to Heed Safety Recommendations During Dangerous Heat Wave

Health officials investigate E. coli outbreak; 12 sickened by same strain

Lorex Recalls Video Baby Monitors

Zika found in common house mosquitoes in Brazil

Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer – at least

Ringing in the ears plagues nearly one in 10 U.S. adults

Jul 23 2016

Alone In The Kitchen With An Old Frenchman

Recently French chef Jacques Pépin turned 80 and retired. Over the years, he educated viewers of Public Television on how to cook and, something that no other cooking show host has done, techniques in the kitchen with wisdom, humor and a smattering of French lessons. As Gilad Edelman wrote in a Slate article, this man will teach you how to cook

Game Day Pressure

For an unusual crispy snack to keep friends munching, Jacques makes Crunchy Kale. Then, forget long hours over the stove, Jacques shows us how to make chili without fuss in a pressure cooker for a game day favorite, Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese. For dessert, Pears Bonne Femme are easy and decadent. To add an eclectic note and bit of extravagance, Jacques makes potato pancakes, known as Criques. Served with sustainable Californian caviar, these tasty morsels are both delicious and environmentally friendly!

Chili con Carne with Lettuce and Cheese (pdf)

Minute Recipe: Cheese Balls with Pignoli Nuts


I love cheese and always buy more than I consume. Through the years, I have worked out a number of recipes to use leftover cheese, so I don’t have to feel guilty about it spoiling. This appetizer is best done with soft cheeses, like fontina, Camembert, blue, St. Albray, or Reblochon. Pear and dried cranberries lend a little sweetness and the toasted pignoli nuts add richness and texture—a perfect combination.

Jul 23 2016

The Breakfast Club (Summer In The City)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Race rioting hits Detroit; Former President Ulysses S. Grant dies; Britain’s Prince Andrew marries ‘Fergie’; Vanessa Williams gives up Miss America crown; Golfer Tiger Woods wins career grand slam.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us, as the confidence of their help.


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