Daily Archive: 09/21/2013

Sep 21 2013

Autumal Equinox 2013

Autumn Fairy photo Autumn_fairy_by_Ironshod_zps80cbcbfe.jpg The sun will pass over the equator for a moment at 4:44 PM EDT on September 22 as it moves to warm the Southern hemisphere and ushers in the first day of Autumn for the North.

For those who practice the earth religions, it is the second harvest, a time for gathering the Summer’s last fruits, giving thanks for the harvest and marking a celebration in gratitude as the soil and plants die away. This year’s Harvest Moon, traditionally the full moon closet to the equinox, fell on September 19.  The moon gets its name from the amount of light it emits, allowing farmers to continue harvesting the summer’s crops through the evening. The Farmer’s Almanac explains why the Harvest Moon is special:

The usual behavior of the Moon is to rise distinctly later each night — an average of about 50 minutes later. [..]

But around the date of the Harvest Moon, the Moon rises at almost the same time for a number of nights in our intermediate northern latitudes. [..]

Because the Moon’s orbit on successive nights is more nearly parallel to the horizon at that time, its relationship to the eastern horizon does not change appreciably, and the Earth does not have to turn as far to bring up the Moon. Thus, for several nights near the full Harvest Moon, the Moon may rise as little as 23 minutes later on successive nights (at about 42 degrees north latitude), and there is an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, a traditional aid to harvest crews. By the time the Moon has reached last quarter, however, the typical 50-minute delay has returned.

One of the myths connected to this celebration/time of year is the myth of Demeter and Persephone.  The Autumn Equinox signals the descent of Persephone back to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades and the Harvest Mother, Demeter’s mourning for her daughter…thus, the explanation of the dying back of plant life.  This myth gave explanation to our ancient ancestors for the changing of the seasons.  The symbolism that is present for us today is the letting go of our youth, child-bearing years and moving closer to the crone/elder part of our lives.  But it is only a preparation, the opening to what needs to be prepared when the Winter inevitably comes.

The Wheel Turns

Sep 21 2013

Random Japan

NPO lobbies to rebuild Edo Castle at the cost of 50 billion yen (US$500 million)

Rachel Tackett

Naotake Odake, former managing director of the Japan Tourist Bureau (JTB) and once director of the Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau, spent years of his professional life traveling to cities across the globe in order to promote Tokyo as a worthwhile tourist destination. In his travels, he noticed a trait shared by all the major cities: they each had a unique and well-recognized landmark embodying the history and culture of the land. According to Odake, a structure of this sort is vital to bolstering a spirit of pride in any given population. Unfortunately for Tokyo, he believes that this sort of historical landmark is something that Japan’s capital city severely lacks. What he has against Asakusa Temple, Tokyo Tower, or Tokyo Skytree, I’m really not sure. But, it is for this reason that Odake has taken the lead as the chairman of a non-profit organization which hopes to rebuild the Edo Castle’s innermost tower. “In order to present Tokyo as a proud tourist city, we need something like Edo Castle,” he says. But will the payoff really outweigh the costs?

Sep 21 2013

Three Things On The Internet

The team of All In with Chris Hayes puts out a daily request on Twitter asking their followers to send them the things they find most interesting on the internet. This is their finds for Thursday September 19.

1. BBC Anchor Simon McCoy actually went on-air with a pile of printer paper, instead of an iPad. To be fair, he probably got a better signal.

2. You could either hit the gym… or watch this Rocky II 30 mile running montage.

3. Someone get this Vladimir Putin doppelganger dog some pants and a horse to awkwardly ride on.

Sep 21 2013

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome 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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Miso, for So Much More Than Just Soup

Miso Peanut Spread photo recipehealthpromo-tmagArticle_zps636765c5.jpg

This week I pulled out my miso and got to work on dishes other than soups. Mind you, I love miso soup; it’s one of my favorite things about eating in a Japanese restaurant. I used to make it a lot at home, too, especially in my early days of being a vegetarian when I was still obsessed with getting enough protein, because it is a good source. But I also love miso glazes on vegetables and on fish and I’ve used this healthy fermented food in salad dressings, dips and spreads.

The paste is made by fermenting grains and/or soybeans with salt and a fungus called kojikin. It is always salty and the light varieties – white (shiro), yellow, and some light brown varieties – are sweet as well. The mildest tasting misos are the white or shiro misos, which are made with rice, barley and a relatively small proportion of soybeans. The more soybeans that are used in miso, the darker and stronger it tastes. I worked with a light miso in this week’s recipes.

~Martha Rose Snulman~

Miso-Glazed Eggplant

Called Nasu dengaku, this is a dish on many Japanese menus.

Roasted Winter Squash With Miso Glaze

Winter squash is another great candidate for glazing with miso.

Miso-Glazed Fish

A miso glaze based on a well-known recipe, but with significantly less sugar.

Miso Dressing

This tangy dressing can also be used as a sauce over grains.

Miso-Peanut Spread

A nutty, sweet and salty spread that can stand in for peanut butter.

Sep 21 2013

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: A Lack of Full Accountability

Having agreed this week to pay $920 million in fines to resolve federal and international investigations into its $6 billion “London Whale” trading loss, JPMorgan Chase has reportedly reached “some closure” in the case and is ready, in the words of its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, to move forward in a process of “simplifying” the bank.

While JPMorgan may feel some closure, there is scant closure for the American public, which deserves accountability for bank recklessness that continues to endanger the economy and which understands that without accountability true financial reform is impossible.

Charles M. Blow: Kamikaze Congress

Delay and defund. And default.

That is the House Republicans’ brilliant plan in their last-ditch effort to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a plan that threatens to grind the government to a halt and wreak havoc on the economy.

If they can’t take over Washington, they’ll shut it down. It’s their way or no way. All or nothing.

This is what has become of a party hijacked by zealots.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: It’s Time for Some Straight Talk About the GOP Budget

When it comes to the economy, the White House is talking tough to the Republicans … about the debt ceiling. It’s true that the threat to shut down the government by refusing to honor its debt obligations is downright un-American. The Administration’s right to call them out for that. But there’s a larger question: Who’s going to give the American people some straight talk about the GOP’s economic ideas?

Forget the debt ceiling for a moment, if you can. Forget the GOP’s attempt to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act. Who is going to explain to the American people how profoundly misguided, and even immoral, the Republicans’ entire economic agenda has become?

Willie Nelson: It’s Time to Stand Up With Family Farmers

Every year, come harvest season, we gather for the annual Farm Aid concert. Artists, farmers, activists and eaters, we come together to recognize the crucial importance of family farmers. We take account of how far we’ve come and we renew our spirits for the fights ahead.

We stand with family farmers.

This strength is what’s grown the Good Food Movement. Today, we’re at our strongest. More people than ever are seeking out family farm food. Businesses sourcing from family farmers are searching for new farmers because demand exceeds supply. Entrepreneurs are making new connections between eaters and farmers. Community organizations and passionate volunteers are bringing good food to neighborhoods that need it most. Together, all of these people are building communities centered on a family farm economy. They’re linking eaters with farmers, building relationships and nourishing bodies and souls. Their actions are transforming food and agriculture, from the ground up.

But even still, a handful of corporations dominate our food system.

Ralph Nader: Five Years Later: Wall Street Is Still At It

It has been five years since the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. The aftermath is well known: the Too Big To Fail bailouts, the Too Big To Jail avoidance of guilt by culpable executives, the loss of millions of jobs, the loss of hard-earned life savings, and severe damage to the world economy. One would hope that, five years later, our country would be on the road to economic recovery. Yet many of the worse excesses of Wall Street remain. Regulators make many of the same mistakes they made in the past and the same warning signs are routinely overlooked. Wall Street and the big banks are even bigger, richer and more powerful than they were in 2008 when U.S. taxpayers bailed them out of their self-inflicted crisis. Little of substance has changed — Wall Street remains largely unshackled, fueled by the same old unrelenting greed and weak government oversight. And Wall Street’s continued reckless risk-taking with other peoples money has been setting off alarm bells — see Gretchen Morgenson’s recent column in the New York Times on the disturbingly vulnerable “repo market.”

Les Leopold: How Wall Street Devoured the Recovery

We are entering a disastrous new era in which all the economic gains go to the top one percent, according to data from economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty. They report that “Top 1% incomes grew by 31.4% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.4% from 2009 to 2012. Hence, the top 1% captured 95% of the income gains in the first three years of the recovery…. In sum, top 1% incomes are close to full recovery while bottom 99% incomes have hardly started to recover.” (In 2012, $394,000 is the cutoff to make it into the top 1 percent.)

The odds are that we in the bottom 99 percent will never recover. That’s because our nation has evolved into something entirely new: a billionaire bailout society. When I first used that phrase in 2009 at a presentation in Los Angeles I could feel the audience squirm. Surely I was exaggerating. Surely, I was just using a rhetorical flourish to stress income inequality. Surely cooler heads would prevail rather than my hot one. Oh, do I wish it were so.

Sep 21 2013

Deja Vu

It’s The Mind-

I can’t believe I voted for this guy.

Guilty! UN Report on Syria Does Not Say What John Kerry Says It Said

By: Peter Van Buren, Firedog Lake

Friday September 20, 2013 5:52 pm

The UN released its report on chemical weapons use in Syria. You can read it here. It’s not that long, just some forty pages including legal appendices. John Kerry says it confirms that the Assad regime fired the gas rockets. Unfortunately, that is not what the actual report says. In a court, Kerry’s case might be seen as circumstantial at best, certainly not enough for a jury to return a guilty verdict in a murder trial.



The problem is that the report does not confirm anything other than chemical weapons were used. I can’t give you a quote because the report simply does not say- anywhere- that the Syria Army, or the rebels, or anyone by name- used the weapons. But don’t believe me. Unlike Kerry, I provide links, so check the full text of the report. If you don’t care to read it all, skip to page five, “Conclusions.” It just isn’t there. No one is named as the culprit.



Who shot the gas rockets? Could they have been fired by rogue military elements not acting under Assad’s orders? Could the Syrian army have lost control of some rockets which were picked up by the rebels (Vladimir Putin has made that very claim, that the rebels themselves fired the gas rockets in an attempt to draw the United States into the conflict)? Could a third party have supplied such rockets to the rebels to create a pretext for war? As there is no evidence in the UN report that the trigger was pulled by the Syrian Army under Assad’s orders, there is no evidence that the rebels pulled it and no evidence that someone else did. That’s why the UN report does not draw a conclusion of guilt- there’s no evidence on which to base such a conclusion.



The U.S. is wholly misrepresenting facts in favor of another Middle East war. Unlike a fictional murder trial where one man’s life is on the line, should the U.S. attack Syria many, many people will lose their lives.

Sep 21 2013

How Safe Is the US Water Supply

These were the headlines in few major news outlets around the US this past week:

Deadly brain amoeba infects US tap water for the first time

by Maggie Fox NBC News

A deadly brain amoeba that’s killed two boys this year has been found in a U.S. drinking water supply system for the first time, officials said Monday — in a New Orleans-area system.

The Naegleria fowleri parasite killed a 4-year-old Mississippi boy who likely got it playing on a back yard Slip ‘N Slide, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say. Tests show it’s present throughout the water supply system in St. Bernard Parish, directly southeast of New Orleans.

St. Bernard water system tests positive for rare brain-eating amoeba, CDC confirms

by  Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

The St. Bernard Parish water system has tested positive for a rare brain-eating amoeba, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed, about a week after St. Bernard Parish government officials assured the public that the parish was taking every precaution possible to flush out its water system.

The CDC has confirmed the presence of the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in four locations of parish’s water system in Violet and Arabi, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said Thursday (Sept. 12).

Brain-Eating Amoeba Confirmed In St. Bernard Parish Water Supply, CDC Says

by Zoe Mintz, International Business Times

The St. Bernard Parish water system in Louisiana has tested positive for the rare brain-eating amoeba that killed a 4-year-old boy last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed Thursday. [..]

Officials believe the parish water system became compromised after its chlorine levels were low, according to state Assistant Health Secretary J.T. Lane. The parish will be flushing its water lines with chlorine for several weeks until they reach recommended levels, CNN reports.

Naegleris fowleri is a parasite found mostly in warm fresh water of ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs.  It is also found in soil, near warm-water discharges of industrial plants, and unchlorinated or poorly chlorinated swimming pools in an amoeboid or temporary flagellate stage.

It can invade and attack the human nervous system and brain though the nasal passages. This is the only known pathway for the parasite, since it is neutralized in the mouth and gut by enzymes.

In humans, N. fowleri can invade the central nervous system via the nose (specifically through the olfactory mucosa and cribriform plate of the nasal tissues). The penetration initially results in significant necrosis of and hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs. From there, the amoeba climbs along nerve fibers through the floor of the cranium via the cribriform plate and into the brain. The organism begins to consume cells of the brain piecemeal by means of a unique sucking apparatus extended from its cell surface. It then becomes pathogenic, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM or PAME). PAM is a syndrome affecting the central nervous system. PAM usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water.

Even with early intervention using large doses of intravenous antifungals, the survival rate is 1% – 3%. the CDC recommends using nose plugs when swimming.

So, Don’t sniff the water? What about cold air vaporizers and humidifier? Granted Louisiana doesn’t have a low humidity issue, but what do you think they use in some air conditioning systems? Bourbon?

The question is what happened in St. Bernard Parish? From Yves Smith at naked capitalism:

For six years, we’ve discussed off and on how income inequality hurt the health of citizens, even in the top income strata. The US now ranks 27th in life expectancy among 34 advanced economies, down from 20 in 1990.

But in addition to the considerable health dangers of stress and weak social bonds, more obvious public health risks may be coming to the fore. Strained municipal budgets means reduced public services, and they can have direct health impact, such as frequency of garbage pickup, the level of staffing of emergency services, the number of hospital beds per capita (consider what happens if you have a natural disaster or disease outbreak and the number of sick and injured exceed the capacity of local facilities). [..]

Now on the surface, this may not sound like a big deal. Poor New Orleans parish screws up, putting kids at risk, but it can fix the problem cheaply and quickly. But the problem is the pathogen should never have been in the water in the first place. Chlorine is inexpensive, so that suggests the contamination resulted from human failings. One has to wonder if those are budget related, due to reduced staffing or changes in supervision procedures. [..]

The problem, of course, is that it will likely take some sort of calamity for the rich to realize that they can’t fully insulate themselves from the rest of society. And the sort of incident that will wake them up to that risk will almost certainly exact a bigger toll on everyone else, unless it’s of the guillotine and pitchforks variety.

Sep 21 2013

On This Day In History September 21

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.

September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 101 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, American General Benedict Arnold meets with British Major John Andre to discuss handing over West Point to the British, in return for the promise of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, a former American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.”

Born in Connecticut, he was a merchant operating ships on the Atlantic Ocean when the war broke out in 1775. After joining the growing army outside Boston, he distinguished himself through acts of cunning and bravery. His actions included the Capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, successful defensive and delaying tactics despite losing the Battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776, the Battle of Ridgefield, Connecticut (after which he was promoted to major general), operations in relief of the Siege of Fort Stanwix, and key actions during the pivotal Battles of Saratoga in 1777, in which he suffered leg injuries that ended his combat career for several years.

In spite of his successes, Arnold was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress while other officers claimed credit for some of his accomplishments. Adversaries in military and political circles brought charges of corruption or other malfeasance, but he was acquitted in most formal inquiries. Congress investigated his accounts, and found that he owed it money after he had spent much of his own money on the war effort. Frustrated and bitter, Arnold decided to change sides in 1779, and opened secret negotiations with the British. In July 1780, he sought and obtained command of West Point in order to surrender it to the British. Arnold’s scheme was exposed when American forces captured British Major John André carrying papers that revealed the plot. Upon learning of André’s capture, Arnold fled down the Hudson River to the British sloop-of-war Vulture, narrowly avoiding capture by the forces of George Washington, who had been alerted to the plot.

Arnold received a commission as a brigadier general in the British Army, an annual pension of £360, and a lump sum of over £6,000. He led British forces on raids in Virginia, and against New London and Groton, Connecticut, before the war effectively ended with the American victory at Yorktown. In the winter of 1782, Arnold moved to London with his second wife, Margaret “Peggy” Shippen Arnold. He was well received by King George III and the Tories but frowned upon by the Whigs. In 1787, he entered into mercantile business with his sons Richard and Henry in Saint John, New Brunswick, but returned to London to settle permanently in 1791, where he died ten years later.

Sep 21 2013

Calling the Debt Ceiling Bluff: Taking It To The Owners

Joe Firestone has written an excellent piece at New Economic Perspectives on the phony fear mongering about the risk that the Republicans might not vote to raise the debt ceiling. He uses as his point of departure exquisitely fraudulent framing that Ezra Klein adopted for the proposal to trade a budget continuing resolution without defunding Obamacare, for taking the fight to the debt ceiling.

The reason the Republican leadership is making the case for that trade is that a continuing resolution has to pass both Chambers, and the version that defunds Obamacare is Dead On Arrival in the Senate, which will amend the bill to restore Obamacare funding and refuse to budge in reconciliation. So sooner or later, the House will have to pass a continuing resolution that includes funding for Obamacare, or else shoulder the political blame for shutting down government.

But what Joe focuses on is the framing of trading off a budget fight for a debt ceiling fight, in which Ezra says:

his is terrifying that this is the argument. And the analogy I would use is this is like trading a bad flu for septic shock. it is the worst trade in the history of all trades you could imagine . . .

Trading a bad flu for septic shock might be the worst trade in the history of all trades, but the only thing that makes the debt ceiling dangerous is the administration’s refusal to call the bluff. As Joe lays out, there are not one, not two, not three, not four, but five options, and three of them would succeed in eliminating the threat that the debt ceiling vote can every again be used for political blackmail.

Sep 21 2013

Friday Night at the Movies