04/09/2011 archive

Random Japan



The Red Cross Society of North Korea sent $100,000 (¥8.1 million) in aid to the Japanese Red Cross Society for victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Fearless leader Kim Jong Il also kicked in another $500,000 to help pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan affected by the quake/tsunami.

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic organized a charity soccer match and dinner involving several ATP stars that raised $100,000 for the relief effort.

Yomiuri Giants baseball star Alex Ramirez, meanwhile, donated $1 million, as well as sending trucks stocked with medicine to the worst-hit areas.

One of the biggest sources of aid has come from what some might consider an unlikely source-the yakuza.

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.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Desserts for the Conscientious


Apple Clafoutis

Winter Strawberry Gelato

Honey-Baked Pears

Grapefruit Ice

Pear and Red Wine Sorbet

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”

Joe Conason: Ryan’s Plan Neither Serious Nor Courageous

What the meteoric career of Paul Ryan demonstrates is how easily impressed we are whenever a politician purports to restore solvency by punishing the poor and the elderly (while coddling the rich). The Wisconsin Republican congressman’s fiscal plan has won rave reviews from both the usual right-wing suspects and some self-styled centrists, who have praised him and his proposals as “serious,” “courageous” and even “uplifting.”

By now, however, those who have actually examined the Ryan plan with care and competence know that those acclamations are highly exaggerated, which is probably a far too polite description.

Paul Krugman: The Value of an Educated Mind in a High-Tech World

And now for something completely different. About 15 years ago, before I became a regular columnist, The New York Times asked me and other people to contribute to a special edition celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Sunday magazine. The stated rule was that the pieces should be written as if submitted in 2096, looking back at the magazine’s second century.

As I recall, I was the only contributor who obeyed instructions; everyone else was too concerned about loss of dignity. Anyway, I decided to write the piece around a conceit: that information technology would end up reducing, not increasing, the demand for highly educated workers, because a lot of what highly educated workers do could actually be replaced by sophisticated information processing – indeed, replaced more easily than many types of manual labor. It was titled “White Collars Turn Blue.”

So here’s the question: Is this starting to happen?

Dave Johnson: Republican Shutdown Shuts Down the Economy – So Do the Cuts They Demand

Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison, (D-Minnesota), and other members of the Progressive Caucus react to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal.

Here we are only four months into Republican control of the House of Representatives and the government is shutting down! When you give power to people who hate the government, what do you think they’re going to do? Since the election the Republicans have been itching to gut or shut the government. It has been a drumbeat that they either get everything they want or shut it down. And getting everything they want guts the government.

Either way our economy takes a big, big hit.

John Nichols: GOP Clerk ‘Finds’ Votes to Reverse Defeat of Conservative Wisconsin Justice

Suppose the Democratic governor of Illinois had proposed radical changes in how the state operates, and suppose anger over those proposed changes inspired a popular uprising that filled the streets of every city, village and town in the state with protests. Then, suppose there was an election that would decide whether allies of the governor controlled the state’s highest court. Suppose the results of that election showed that an independent candidate who would not be in the governor’s pocket narrowly won that election.

Then, suppose it was announced by a Democratic election official in Chicago that she had found 14,000 votes in a machine-controlled ward that overwhelmingly favored the candidate aligned with the Democratic governor. And suppose the Democratic official who “found” the needed ballots for the candidate favored by the Democratic governor had previously been accused of removing election data from official computers and hiding the information on a personal computer, that the official’s actions had been censured even by fellow Democrats and that she her secretive and erratic activities had been the subject of an official audit demanded by the leadership of the Cook County Board.

Jodi Jacobson Averting a Government Shutdown? GOP Says Over Your Dead Body. And They Mean It

As of this morning, we are in a situation that could have been predicted at least two months ago when the first loud whispers of government shutdown became routine among members of the GOP/Tea Party in Congress, a situation that became a virtual certainty after a rally last week in which Tea Party members shouted like drunken frat boys to “shut it down.”

What is that situation? A government shutdown that the radical right now governing the House of Representatives says can only be averted by one thing: Accepting policies that will destroy the health and wellbeing of American citizens.

In short, the GOP/Tea Party has two words for the American people: Drop Dead.

Patrice Woeppel: One Hundred Years After the Triangle Fire, Disregard for Worker Safety Still the Rule

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, killed 146 young women, most between the ages of 14 and 23. It was a Saturday, the shorter eight-hour day of their six-day work week. On the entire nine-floor factory, only one door was unlocked, and that opened inward; only a few workers were able to escape.

A small number made it into the elevator. Fire ladders were unable to reach beyond the sixth floor, fire escapes collapsed and 27 buckets of water – the only fire prevention available – was no match for the conflagration. Many of the young women burned to death. Most leaped to their deaths in desperate attempts to escape the flames by the fire ladders or the fire blankets, the latter of which collapsed from the weight of their falls.

In the previous year, a successful union movement had established the International Ladies Garment Workers Union in New York City. The Triangle Factory was a holdout, leaving these young women at the mercy of unscrupulous owners and unsafe working conditions.

Michelle Chen: States’ Shameful Trade-Off: Putting Prisons over Public Schools

The state lawmakers who are pushing hard for “austerity” aren’t so much enemies of government “waste” as they are expert money launderers in the business of politics. Education is at the center of their shell game.

Across the country, conservatives are fixated on a curious formula for deficit reduction: wholesale disinvestment in schools (coupled with erosion of union rights and working conditions for teachers), plus a race to pump tax breaks for the rich and stifle health care for the poor. And in many areas, one sacred cow continues to fatten while students starve: our bloated prison system.

Thom Hartmann: With or Without a Government Shutdown – Republicans have Already Won the Debate

With or without a government shutdown, Republicans have already won the debate on our nation’s budget. Why? Because the corporate media is on their side.

Make the wealthy pay their fair share.

A budget shouldn’t just focus on spending cuts directed at the poor and middle-class – it should also include revenue raisers like closing corporate loopholes and asking millionaires and billionaires to cough up a few extra bucks a year. Let’s cut some wasteful spending, but let’s also raise a few taxes. But this common sense narrative has been lost inside the main stream corporate media – where there’s only one question that’s being asked today, and that is “how much spending needs to be cut?”

David Sirota: The Real Madness of March

Lowell Bergman is the rare skunk who regularly finds his way into the power elite’s garden parties. As tobacco executives celebrated huge revenues in the 1990s, he was the journalist whose reporting about cancer and nicotine addiction stopped the festivities. As credit card executives toasted their holiday-season profits, his 2004 New York Times investigation humiliated the lending industry by showing how it traps unsuspecting consumers in perpetual debt. So it was no surprise that as the sports establishment concluded its perennial orgy of profit known as March Madness, Bergman was at it again, this time exposing the corruption beneath all the school spirit.

In Bergman’s damning special now available on PBS’s “Frontline” website, viewers are shown the side of “amateur” athletics that’s almost never discussed inside the beery bubble of sports media. We see, for instance, an NCAA that makes billions off television contracts, while student athletes receive only a tiny fraction of that revenue in the form of scholarships. We see coaches making millions off long-term contracts, while players remain perpetually at risk of losing their meager financial aid. We see, in short, an Athletic-Industrial Complex that turns schools into support systems for sports – rather than the other way around.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

Many years ago, there was a small railroad that ran on the docks in Brooklyn.  It was called the Brooklyn Dock Railway.   It wasn’t connected by track to other railroads.  Back then, they put railroad cars on barges and floated them to and from New Jersey across the New York City harbor.   When BDR went out of business about forty years ago, a friend of your bloguero picked up some artifacts from its offices.  And he gave your bloguero one, a small stamp that was used in making hourly entries in a lined log book.  The stamp says, “NOTHING TO REPORT.”

A perfect stamp to put on today’s digest.  At The Dream Antilles a week of bemusement. A week of distraction.  A week of dreams.  A week of memories.  A week of wondering.  A week of ennui.  A week of nothing to report.


The Newark Space Flight Center is fiction, but it has girders anchored in fact.  Your bloguero likes this piece.  A relative of your bloguero , on the other hand, wants your bloguero to know that he doesn’t recognize Pops as Luis, your bloguero’s actual grandfather.  “But, but, but,” your bloguero stammers, “It’s part fact and part fiction.  It’s faction.  It’s….”

At Last notes the arrival of the peepers on the pond.  The surest sign that Spring has begun.

April 4, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is marked by In Memoriam,

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Your bloguero notes that this Digest is a weekly feature of the Port Writers Alliance and is now posted early Saturday morning.   Your bloguero will see you next week, planetary and his psycho-emotional condition permitting.  If you read this, please drop a note.  Your bloguero last week had a personal understanding of  Handel’s interpretation of Isaiah, “The voice of him that cryeth in the wilderness…”

On This Day In History April 9

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.

April 9 is the 99th day of the year (100th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 266 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia at the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House. In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of Grant’s respect and anticipation of peacefully restoring Confederate states to the Union, Lee was permitted to keep his sword and his horse, Traveller.

At Appomattox, Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders his 28,000 troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Forced to abandon the Confederate capital of Richmond, blocked from joining the surviving Confederate force in North Carolina, and harassed constantly by Union cavalry, Lee had no other option.

In retreating from the Union army’s Appomattox Campaign, the Army of Northern Virginia had stumbled through the Virginia countryside stripped of food and supplies. At one point, Union cavalry forces under General Philip Sheridan had actually outrun Lee’s army, blocking their retreat and taking 6,000 prisoners at Sayler’s Creek. Desertions were mounting daily, and by April 8 the Confederates were surrounded with no possibility of escape. On April 9, Lee sent a message to Grant announcing his willingness to surrender. The two generals met in the parlor of the Wilmer McLean home at one o’clock in the afternoon.

Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations.

Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end

Six In The Morning

US Congress agrees last-minute budget deal

Republicans and Democrats have reached a deal on the US budget, an hour before a deadline that would have forced the government to close many services.

The BBC  9 April 2011

They have passed a stop-gap spending bill which will allow the government to keep running while the wider budget plan is finalised.

The parties have agreed to slash about $38bn (£23bn) from spending for the year until 30 September.

President Barack Obama said the cuts would be difficult but necessary.

“Some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful,” he said.

“Programmes people rely on will be cut back. Needed infrastructure projects will be delayed. And I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.”

F1: Sepang Qualifying

Well, if it’s 4:00 am it’s Formula One somewhere.  This week is Sepang in Malaysia.

Sepang is hotter than Albert Park this time of year and there’s also a history of afternoon downpours that shortened the race in 2009.  This could effect tire strategy, though Jenson Button reports the McLaren team is getting excellent wear from the designed to deteriorate faster Pirellis.

Speaking of go fast technology, because of the long straights Red Bull is not shunning KERS the way they did in Australia.  In practice the 2 McLarens split Webber and Vettel and everyone else was pretty much an also ran.  Considering the results from Albert Park this very much reminds me of last season where Red Bull had a clear speed advantage in the early races that tightened up over the course of the season, except that this year is much closer.  Hamilton finished second despite major damage to his under carriage aero.

We also know now that they’re going to be strictly enforcing the 107% rule for qualifying (though it only applies to the Q1 ETs).  The split spoiler is only activated for the trailing car and only in certain sections of track and within a certain distance of the car you’re attempting to overtake.  It was no apparent advantage in Melbourne.

If I had actually watched Friday’s practice last night I suppose I’d know more, but I was busy examining my eyelids from the inside.  I totally understand if others feel the same about tonight, qualifying is only interesting if there are surprises and there haven’t been many so far.  Tomorrow though you get a rare chance to see the whole weekend in about 5 hours as Speed will be rebroadcasting the Friday practice and tonight’s Qualifying starting at 12:30 am before the race itself at 3:30 am.  I’ll try to have the piece up around midnight though I might nap after that for a while.  They’ll be repeating the race only at 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon.

The Budget Battle: From Here To Thursday

The Government has avoided a shut down in the last minutes, however, this isn’t over, by a long shot. While the Obama supporters will be touting tonight’s passing of a “Bridge CR” and agreement for the 2011 budget a “victory’, is it? Yes, they managed to remove some of the most egregious riders that the “Full Mooner” Tea Party Republicans were trying to jam through but it cost Obama almost $39 billion more than the $40 million that he originally proposed for a grand total of $79 billion in cuts that will only carry through until September that is if they pass it next Thursday. It still isn’t very clear just what is in that extra $39 billion in cuts.

There are still give aways in the bill which includes the riders to ban DC from using its own funds to pay for abortions for poor DC women and approval of the unpopular DC school vouchers which was opposed by the DC city council. So much for Republican respect for state’s rights.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post sums it up, this is “2011 not 1995”:

The substance of this deal is bad. The rhetoric of it is worse.

The final compromise was $38.5 billion below 2010’s funding levels. That’s $78.5 billion below President Obama’s original budget proposal, which would’ve added $40 billion to 2010’s funding levels, and $6.5 billion below John Boehner’s original counteroffer, which would’ve subtracted $32 billion from 2010’s budget totals. In the end, the real negotiation was not between the Republicans and the Democrats, or even the Republicans and the White House. It was between John Boehner and the conservative wing of his party. And once that became clear, it turned out that Boehner’s original offer wasn’t even in the middle. It turns out to be slightly center-left.

But you would’ve never known it from President Obama’s comments following the conclusion of the negotiations. Obama bragged about “making the largest annual spending cut in our history.” Harry Reid repeatedly called the cuts “historic.” It fell to Boehner to give a clipped, businesslike statement on the deal. If you were just tuning in, you might’ve thought Boehner had been arguing for moderation, while both Obama and Reid sought to cut deeper. You would never have known that Democrats had spent months resisting these “historic” cuts, warning that they’d cost jobs and slow the recovery.

Although there will now be a separate Senate vote to cut Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, which will most likely fail, this is a major capitulation by Obama and the Democratic leadership that gives 1/6th of the government 2/3rds of the budget cuts it wanted. All of these riders will appear again and again and many will pass the House and, perhaps, even the Senate. What matters more to Obama than anything else is his notion of “bipartisanship” which is shifting this country further and further to the right to the detriment of the majority if Americans and the future.

Nice spelunking by the Spelunker-in-Chief.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for April 8, 2011-


Popular Culture (Music) 20110408: The Who. Happy Jack

Happy Jack was the second album released by The Who and their second studio album. It was released in the UK with the title A Quick One.  That was a little suggestive for Decca Records, the US label and the single Happy Jack has charted in the US, so that title was used.  The song lineup is a little different betwixt the two records as well, Happy Jack not being on the UK version.

Released in the UK 19661209, it was delayed in the US for almost six months, finally being released in 196705 (I am not sure of the exact day).  This record was truly transformative, and is one of my personal favorites.  It was this album where Townshend really showed that the was a writing force with which to be reckoned, and he took some risks that he would not have taken previously for a large reason:  the brilliant Kit Lambert had replaced the hack Shel Talmy as the producer of the band.

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