Daily Archive: 12/22/2012

Dec 22 2012

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow 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 and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

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Healthy Holiday Snacks

Spiced Wok Popped Popcorn

This week’s recipes come in response to requests from readers for ideas for snacks to have around the house during the end-of-the-year holidays: something to replace the candy bowls and cookies that are usually there and easy to nosh on. Commercial snacks that are healthy (or healthier – read the labels closely) are available including vegetable chips and pita crisps, seaweed snacks, nuts, dried fruit and trail mix. But some of these have a lot of salt and they can be pricy.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Spiced Wok-Popped Popcorn

A wok is the perfect pan for making popcorn.

Not-Too-Sweet Wok-Popped Coconut Kettle Corn

A moderately sweet version, because no holiday is complete without the sweet.

Granola

Right after baking, this seems more like a snack than breakfast.

Spiced Roasted Almonds

A little extra spice on these almonds helps minimize the urge to mindlessly snack.

Marinated Olives

Olives seasoned with herbs, garlic and lemon peel make for a delicious snack.

Dec 22 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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New York Times Editorial: The N.R.A. Crawls From Its Hidey Hole

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, would have been better advised to remain wherever he had been hiding after the Newtown, Conn., massacre, rather than appear at a news conference on Friday. No one seriously believed the N.R.A. when it said it would contribute something “meaningful” to the discussion about gun violence. The organization’s very existence is predicated on the nation being torn in half over guns. Still, we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant. [..]

The N.R.A., which devotes itself to destroying compromise on guns, is blameless. So are unscrupulous and unlicensed dealers who sell guns to criminals, and gun makers who bankroll Mr. LaPierre so he can help them peddle ever-more-lethal, ever-more-efficient products, and politicians who kill even modest controls over guns.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Ask a Democrat: On Social Security, Which Side Are You On?

This is a moment of moral clarity. Right now there are only two sides in the Social Security debate: the side that says it’s acceptable to cut benefits — in a way that raises taxes for all income except the highest — and the side that says it isn’t.

It’s time to ask our leaders — and ourselves — a simple question: Which side are you on?

Nancy Pelosi says she can convince most Congressional Democrats to “stick with the President” as he pursues his gratuitous and callous plan to cut Social Security benefits as part of a deficit deal — even though Social Security does not contribute to the deficit.

Excuse me: Stick with the President? What about sticking with our seniors and our veterans? What about sticking with our disabled fellow Americans? What What about sticking with the more than 4,000 children on Social Security who lost a parent in the Iraq War?

Cenk Uygur: Obama Will Ride to the Rescue… for Republicans

The Republicans have put themselves in a holy mess with this Plan B debacle. They now have less than zero leverage. They are a national laughingstock. A majority of the country now thinks they are “too extreme.” They just got walloped in the election. And with the tax cuts set to expire the laws are rigged against them as well.

There is only one person who can rescue the Republican Party now — Barack Obama. And he will. I have been saying for over two years now that President Obama is dying to do the Grand Bargain. He will do it at any cost. In fact, he actively wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. He can’t wait for that pat on the back from the establishment when they finally call him post-partisan, above party politics, and a statesman for screwing over his own voters. This is by far his greatest wish.

I couldn’t believe that people couldn’t believe that President Obama offered to cut Social Security again in this round of negotiations. What are you still surprised at? The man has offered to cut these so-called entitlements every time. When are you going to get it through your head — he wants to cut them!

Gail Collins: Wish You a Gun-Free Christmas

Well, the Mayans were sort of right.

The world didn’t implode when their calendar stopped on Dec. 21. But the National Rifle Association did call for putting guns in every American school in a press conference that had a sort of civilization-hits-a-dead-end feel to it.

And we learned that negotiations on averting a major economic crisis had come to a screeching halt because Speaker John Boehner lost the support of the far-right contingent of his already-pretty-damned-conservative caucus. We have seen the future, and everything involves negotiating with loony people.

Robert Reich: Boehner’s Failure and the GOP’s Disgrace

Remarkably, John Boehner couldn’t get enough House Republicans to vote in favor of his proposal to keep the Bush tax cuts in place on the first million dollars of everyone’s income and apply the old Clinton rates only to dollars over and above a million.

What? Even Grover Norquist blessed Boehner’s proposal, saying it wasn’t really a tax increase. Even Paul Ryan supported it.

What does Boehner’s failure tell us about the modern Republican party?

That it has become a party of hypocrisy masquerading as principled ideology. The GOP talks endlessly about the importance of reducing the budget deficit. But it isn’t even willing to raise revenues from the richest three-tenths of one percent of Americans to help with the task. We’re talking about 400,000 people, for crying out loud.

Rep. Brad Miller: Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Honest Bankers

There was a hit song in the forties (made popular more recently by the Muppets) called “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.” [..]

People who have been involved in pervasive felonious conduct cannot be trusted to report themselves voluntarily, and even when asked directly they have a motive to lie. And regulators should not rely on the institutions to act against their own interests, even when there is less at stake than a possible prison sentence. Regulators rely on financial institutions to grade their own “stress tests,” to propose their own “living wills,” and to conduct “independent foreclosure reviews” with consultants and law firms of their own choosing. A dose of skepticism by regulators is in order where financial institutions have an interest in what they report.

Get it?

Dec 22 2012

On This Day In History December 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 22 is the 356th day of the year (357th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are nine days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1808, Ludwig von Beethoven’s 5th Symphony makes its world premier in Vienna.

Also premiering that day at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna were Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, and the Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68-the “Pastoral Symphony.” But it was the Fifth Symphony that, despite its shaky premiere, would eventually be recognized as Beethoven’s greatest achievement to that point in his career. Writing in 1810, the critic E.T.A. Hoffman praised Beethoven for having outstripped the great Haydn and Mozart with a piece that “opens the realm of the colossal and immeasurable to us…evokes terror, fright, horror, and pain, and awakens that endless longing that is the essence of Romanticism.”

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That assessment would stand the test of time, and the Fifth Symphony would quickly become a centerpiece of the classical repertoire for orchestras around the world. But beyond its revolutionary qualities as a serious composition, the Fifth Symphony has also proven to be a work with enormous pop-cultural staying power, thanks primarily to its powerful four-note opening motif-three short Gs followed by a long E-flat. Used in World War II-era Britain to open broadcasts of the BBC because it mimicked the Morse-code “V” for “Victory,” and used in the disco-era United States by Walter Murphy as the basis for his unlikely #1 pop hit “A Fifth Of Beethoven,” the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony have become a kind of instantly recognizable musical shorthand since they were first heard by the public on this day in 1808.

Dec 22 2012

D-Day Has Left the Room

David Dayen, aka d-day, proprietor of FDL’s News Desk, has decided to take his keyboard and depart the blogosphere after eight years. There is no way to fill the gap he will leave. Damn, David, who is going to explain the next financial debacle or Washington’s latest manufactured crisis with your clarity?

A few days before his last post at the News Desk, David talked with Sam Seder on Majority Report to give us an insight to his reason for leaving blogging.

The privilege has been all ours, David. Thanks and best wishes.  

Dec 22 2012

Popular Culture 20121221: Christmas Songs

I apologize for not being around much lately, but I have been busy doing Christmas baking and sorting out some personal issues.  Monday I shipped off two boxes of goodies, one to the former Mrs. Translator for her and the two sons that will be able to spend time with her for the holidays, and the other to Eldest Son and his bride who are unable to come home for Christmas.

Contents included Black Walnut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Hickory Nut/Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Apricot Bread, Black Walnut/White “Chocolate” Chip Toll House Cookies, and of course Lizzies, a family Christmas tradition.  I got word from both of them that they each got their goodies in good condition on Wednesday.  Hat tip to the USPS for providing excellent service and a very good price with Priority Mail.

There are some really good seasonal songs playing these days, and I shall share some of them with you tonight.  Most of them are from my childhood, and many of them are from Goodyear’s Great Songs of Christmas, Volume 5 from 1965, so I would have been eight at the time.  I rooted around through my vinyl and alas no longer have the record.  Others are from different sources.

Dec 22 2012

End of the World Menu- Part Two

The second menu from Epicurious.com is the End of the World Disaster.  Depending on how much and how fast you drink and whether or not you hydrate before bed and have to go to work tomorrow it could turn out to be just that as it features three drinks that I’ll arrange in order of destructive magnitude- the Tropical Storm, the Hurricane, and the Earthquake.  There’s also a drink inspired soup/appetizer Bloody Mary with Shrimp and Pickled Vegetables, Fire and Spice Nuts (to encourage more drinking), Iceberg with Bacon and Blue Cheese, Beef and Snow Peas, and Volcano Surprise.

Tropical Storm

(8 servings)

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup white rum
  • 3/4 cup high-proof dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons Campari
  • Orange wedges
  • Maraschino cherries

Mix ingredients in a pitcher. Cover and chill for 4-12 hours. Divide among ice-filled glasses. Garnish with orange wedges and maraschino cherries.

Hurricane

(Serves 1)

  • 1 ounce light rum
  • 1 ounce dark rum
  • 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, or to taste
  • Ice cubes

Mix all ingredients except ice in shaker. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add ice cubes, shake well, and strain mixture into a cocktail glass.

Passion fruit syrup can be hard to find, juice might be a little easier (you would need to use more or make a separate step out of reducing it).  In a pinch you can substitute Grenadine.

Earthquake

(Serves 1)

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce Pernod
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Bloody Mary Soup Shots with Shrimp and Pickled Vegetables

(Serves 8)

  • 32 peeled deveined cooked medium shrimp
  • Pickled vegetables (such as carrots, celery, green beans, or olives)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in juice
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vodka (or, you know, whatever)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt

Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon lemon juice in large bowl. Thread 1 shrimp and 1 vegetable on toothpick. Repeat with remaining shrimp and vegetables. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place tomatoes with juice, green onions, 1/2 cup broth, Worcestershire sauce, vodka, horseradish, celery salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. If mixture is too thick, thin with additional broth by tablespoonfuls. Season Bloody Mary mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to pitcher, cover and chill.

This tomato-Worcestershire-vodka soup gets served in shot glasses for fun. Garnish each with shrimp-vegetable skewer. Serve remaining Bloody Mary mixture and shrimp-vegetable skewers alongside.

Skewers and soup can be made 1 day ahead. Look for the pickled veggies near the jarred vegetables in the supermarket.

Now that you’re thoroughly smashed, some food below the fold.