11/13/2010 archive

Random Japan


It was reported that hammocks are becoming trendy among Tokyoites, in part because lying in one “feels similar to being in the mother’s womb.”

The number of “citizens’ farms” rented out by local governments has increased threefold during the past 15 years.

Declaring that “the Democratic Party of Japan is in bad shape,” 63-year-old former PM Yukio Hatoyama put off retirement from the House of Representatives.

The environment ministry said it is launching a “no-holds-barred campaign” to eradicate the Java mongoose in Okinawa. The creature has been deemed an invasive alien species that threatens local wildlife.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness 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.

Carrots: Digging Deeper for Fall Flavor


Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup With Mint or Tarragon

Roasted Carrots With Parsley and Thyme

Tomato and Carrot Marinara Sauce

Flourless Carrot Cake

Arugula and Carrot Salad With Walnuts and Cheese

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”.

Dan Fromkin: Bush’s Waterboarding Admission Prompts Calls For Criminal Probe

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday joined a growing chorus in the human rights community calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statutes prohibiting torture.

In his new memoir and ensuing book tour, Bush has repeatedly admitted that he directly authorized the waterboarding of three terror suspects. Use of the waterboard, which creates the sensation of drowning, has been an iconic and almost universally condemned form of torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Except for a brief period during which a handful of Bush administration lawyers insisted that the exigencies of interrogating terror suspects justified its use, waterboarding has always been considered illegal by the Justice Department. It is also a clear violation of international torture conventions.

Robert Reich: Why We Should Beware Budget-Deficit Mania

We’re in for another round of budget-deficit mania.

The first draft of the President’s deficit commission, written by its co-chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, is a pastiche of ideas – some good, some dumb, some intriguing, some wacky. The only unifying principle behind their effort seems to be to throw enough at the wall that something’s bound to stick.

At their best, presidential commissions focus the public’s attention – not only on the right solution to some important problem but also on the right problem. Sadly, this preliminary report does neither.

As to solution, the report mentions but doesn’t emphasize the biggest driver of future deficits – the relentless rise in health-care costs coupled with the pending corrosion of 77 million boomer bodies. This is 70 percent of the problem, but it gets about 3 percent of the space in the draft.

Paul Krugman: For Lenders, the Name of the Game Is Extend and Pretend

I’m finding it difficult to write about the recent foreclosure mess in the United States.

Amid the revelations in October that so many mortgage lenders might have been sloppy when processing foreclosure paperwork, attorneys general in all 50 states have now announced they are investigating lenders’ foreclosure practices.

It’s clear that there has been massive malfeasance on the part of the banks (again), but it’s less easy to decide what should be done about it.

One thing is obvious: the main argument in favor of turning a blind eye to this whole situation and avoiding a temporary freeze on foreclosures is wrong.

Just a scrap of paper

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Property rights, and their transfer, are governed by laws with factually thousands of years of precedent.  The earliest records are in hieroglyphics and cuneiform.

Are Obama and Congress Set To Screw American Counties, Homeowners and Give Wall Street Mortgage Banksters a Retroactive Immunity Bailout?

By: bmaz Friday November 12, 2010 7:40 pm

Why would the Obama Administration and Congress be doing this? Because the foreclosure fraud suits and other challenges to the mass production slice, dice and securitize lifestyle on the American finance sector, the very same activity that wrecked the economy and put the nation in the depression it is either still in, or barely recovering from, depending on your point of view, have left the root balance sheets and stability of the largest financial institutions on the wrong side of the credibility and, likely, the legal auditory line. And that affects not only our economy, but that of the world who is all chips in on the American real estate and financial products markets.

What does that mean to you? Everything. As quoted above, even the most conservative estimate (and that estimate is based on only a single recording fee per mortgage, when in reality there are almost certainly multiple recordings legally required for most all mortgages due to the slicing, dicing and tranching necessary to accomplish the securitization that has occurred) for the state of California alone is $60 billion dollars. That is $60,000,000,000.00. California alone is actually likely several times that. Your county is in the loss column heavy from this too.

This is a death knell to the real property system as we have always known it and the county structure of American society as we have known it. And millions of people will have lost the ability to benefit from the established rule and process of law that they understood and relied on. After the fact. Retroactively. So Obama and Congress can once again give a handout and bailout to the very banks and financial malefactors that put us here.

I don’t weep for the counties, they’re not much more than lines on a map in Connecticut, but I do for the rule of law.  If you don’t give a rat’s ass about the 5th Amendment, you might about ex post facto.

On This Day in History: November 13

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

November 13 is the 317th day of the year (318th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 48 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1982, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a week long national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War.

The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Lin, is made up of two gabbro walls 246 feet 9 inches (75 m) long. The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them. At the highest tip (the apex where they meet), they are 10.1 feet (3 m) high, and they taper to a height of eight inches (20 cm) at their extremities. Stone for the wall came from Bangalore, Karnataka, India, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality. Stone cutting and fabrication was done in Barre, Vermont. Stones were then shipped to Memphis, Tennessee where the names were etched. The etching was completed using a photoemulsion and sandblasting process. The negatives used in the process are in storage at the Smithsonian Institution. When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together. One wall points toward the Washington Monument, the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, meeting at an angle. Each wall has 72 panels, 70 listing names (numbered 1E through 70E and 70W through 1W) and 2 very small blank panels at the extremities. There is a pathway along the base of the Wall, where visitors may walk, read the names, make a pencil rubbing of a particular name, or pray.

Inscribed on the walls with the Optima typeface are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed in 1982. They are listed in chronological order, starting at the apex on panel 1E in 1959 (although it was later discovered that the first casualties were military advisers who were killed by artillery fire in 1957), moving day by day to the end of the eastern wall at panel 70E, which ends on May 25, 1968, starting again at panel 70W at the end of the western wall which completes the list for May 25, 1968, and returning to the apex at panel 1W in 1975. Symbolically, this is described as a “wound that is closed and healing.” Information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given. The wall listed 58,159 names when it was completed in 1993; as of June 2010, there are 58,267 names, including 8 women. Approximately 1,200 of these are listed as missing (MIAs, POWs, and others), denoted with a cross; the confirmed dead are marked with a diamond. If the missing return alive, the cross is circumscribed by a circle (although this has never occurred as of March 2009); if their death is confirmed, a diamond is superimposed over the cross. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “there is no definitive answer to exactly how many, but there could be as many as 38 names of personnel who survived, but through clerical errors, were added to the list of fatalities provided by the Department of Defense.” Directories are located on nearby podiums so that visitors may locate specific names.

Too Cheap To Hire a Ghostwriter…

Too Dumb and Dishonest to be anything but a Plagiarist

Our former deciderer-

George Bush Book ‘Decision Points’ Lifted From Advisers’ Books

by Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post

11-12-10 04:17 PM

When Crown Publishing inked a deal with George W. Bush for his memoirs, the publisher knew it wasn’t getting Faulkner. But the book, at least, promises “gripping, never-before-heard detail” about the former president’s key decisions, offering to bring readers “aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq,” and other undisclosed and weighty locations.

Crown also got a mash-up of worn-out anecdotes from previously published memoirs written by his subordinates, from which Bush lifts quotes word for word, passing them off as his own recollections. He took equal license in lifting from nonfiction books about his presidency or newspaper or magazine articles from the time. Far from shedding light on how the president approached the crucial “decision points” of his presidency, the clip jobs illuminate something shallower and less surprising about Bush’s character: He’s too lazy to write his own memoir.

Bush, on his book tour, makes much of the fact that he largely wrote the book himself, guffawing that critics who suspected he didn’t know how to read are now getting a comeuppance. Not only does Bush know how to read, it turns out, he knows how to Google, too. Or his assistant does. Bush notes in his acknowledgments that “[m]uch of the research for this book was conducted by the brilliant and tireless Peter Rough. Peter spent the past 18 months digging through archives, searching the internet[s], and sifting through reams of paper.” Bush also collaborated on the book with his former speechwriter, Christopher Michel.

F1: Yas Marina Qualifying

Well this is it, last race of the season.  I won’t kid you, my guy Lew needs to finish first and everyone else has to park.  To add insult Hamilton was under investigation for an incident with Senna during practice and could suffer a 5 grid penalty.

The Constructors’ Championship is already done- Red Bull, McLaren, Scuderia Marlboro.  Fair enough I suppose, the others were playing catchup to Red Bull all year.  It’s a big triumph for the former Jaguar/Ford team which knew nothing but futility in it’s previous incarnation.  They’re now the biggest in Formula One too, with 2 separate groups (Toro Rosso, running the Ferrari engine) and 4 cars on track.

Speaking of engines, the Top contenders are all on used engines and are using different ones today than they used yesterday in practice.  Both the Red Bull drivers have relatively low milage, ultra reliable Renaults, everyone else is running the best they have left.  Barrichello’s stopped during the first practice.

Yas Marina is about 3.4 miles and because of it’s long straight and a couple of other fast bits can put a lot of strain on brakes.  It’s a relatively new track and while it’s designed to resemble Monaco it’s really nothing like it at all.  Yeah, sure, there are high walls and stuff, but they’re mostly not as close as they look on TV.  Instead there are acres of smooth asphalt run off areas, no gravel traps at all.  This has the unintended(?) side effect of making drivers more aggressive since there is rarely a parking penalty for an off.

Now you’d naturally think that being in Abu Dhabi and all you wouldn’t have to worry about rain, but it did in fact, quite heavily, just before yesterday’s practice and at practice time it was 80 degrees with 60% humidity.  The drivers won’t have to worry about ‘rubbering in’ the track though since after almost 2 months of down time the support races in GP 3 and GP 2 will stage their season finales before the main event (Speed’s coverage of GP 2 starts at 6 am).

About that rubber, next year Pirelli is taking over from Bridgestone as the sole source supplier to Formula One and they’re already talking about deliberately putting out ‘risky’ tires to encourage ‘tire management strategies’.

Well, for one thing they’re tactics not strategies and were I a driver that would certainly give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, especially after parking.

Branson’s toy Virgin team has sold off the Lloyd’s Bank stake to Russian Sports Car manufacturer Marussia who would dearly love to have Petrov on the team next year, but it would be a big step down from Renault for him.

After this racing starts again on March 12th, 2011 with Qualifying in Bahrain and they’ll be adding a 20th race in India.  If you want to see some of the other changes click the link.

I think I’ll spare you my comparison of Auto World and Ferrari World until tomorrow.  Pre-race coverage starts at 7:30 am.  Qualifying will repeat at 4:30 pm.  Surprising developments (if any) below.

Morning Shinbun Saturday November 13

Saturday’s Headlines:

Rescue Workers Train in the Disneyland of Terror


I.R.S. Sits on Data Pointing to Missing Children

Opposition to U.S. trial likely to keep mastermind of 9/11 attacks in detention


Wanted: ideas for how to kick-start Paris nightlife

Merkel would lose an election, poll reveals

Middle East

The village built on thorny ground

Middle East doves energized by election


More questions than answers on a day of many rumours but no release


South Africa’s white farmers expand into Mozambique

Revealed: Shell’s PR tricks in Nigeria

Latin America

Teotihuacan ruins explored by a robot

Pacific leaders pledge to pursue free trade

U.S., China, Japan put aside differences as Obama wraps 10-day trip

Associated Press  

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Leaders of the world’s three biggest economies – the U.S., China and Japan – all pledged Saturday to stick to free trade, apparently putting aside acrimony over currencies that has threatened to revive pressures for protectionism.

The vows against backsliding toward retaliatory trade moves came at an annual summit of Pacific Rim leaders, just a day after a fractious summit of the Group of 20 major economies in South Korea.

Cat Got Your Tongue?

No? OK, but apparently four engineers from prestigious universities using integral calculus, high speed photography and borrowed equipment from the International Space Station, curious about how cats drink figured out just how our feline companions and their larger counterparts in the wild lap it up. It isn’t what you would think, after all, cats are not dogs.

For Cats, a Big Gulp With a Touch of the Tongue

Cats lap water so fast that the human eye cannot follow what is happening, which is why the trick had apparently escaped attention until now. With the use of high-speed photography, the neatness of the feline solution has been captured.

Writing in the Thursday issue of Science, the four engineers report that the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the point at which gravitational force would overcome inertia and cause the water to fall.

What happens is that the cat darts its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water.

The tongue is then pulled upward at high speed, drawing a column of water behind it.

Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the rush of the water and starts to pull the column down – snap! The cat’s jaws have closed over the jet of water and swallowed it.

The cat laps four times a second – too fast for the human eye to see anything but a blur – and its tongue moves at a speed of one meter per second. . . .

At first, Dr. Stocker and his colleagues assumed that the raspy hairs on a cat’s tongue, so useful for grooming, must also be involved in drawing water into its mouth. But the tip of the tongue, which is smooth, turned out to be all that was needed.

Prime Time

Mostly premiers.  Yas Marina Qualifying @ 8 am.

Why the big secret? People are smart. They can handle it.

A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.

What’s the catch?

The catch? The catch is you will sever every human contact. Nobody will ever know you exist anywhere. Ever. I’ll give you to sunrise to think it over.

Hey! Is it worth it?

Oh yeah, it’s worth it. If you’re strong enough!


Dave hosts Kelly Ripa, Greg Fitzsimmons, and Reba McEntire.  No Conan.

You’ll dress only in attire specially sanctioned by MiB special services. You’ll conform to the identity we give you, eat where we tell you, live where we tell you. From now on you’ll have no identifying marks of any kind. You’ll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You’re a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don’t exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You’re no longer part of the System. You’re above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We’re “them.” We’re “they.” We are the Men in Black.

You see, the difference between you and me is I make this look good.

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