05/07/2011 archive

Random Japan



The justice ministry put the number of “flyjin”-foreigners who left Japan after the March 11 earthquake-at 531,000. Go on, everyone, take a bow!

The government is rethinking the draconian power-saving measures it had planned for the summer after TEPCO said it could crank out 52 million kilowatts of electricity by the end of July, instead of the previously stated 46.5 million kw.

Kevin Maher, who was canned as head of the US Office of Japanese Affairs because of comments he allegedly made in December, denied he ever called Okinawans “lazy.” He also claims he never said they are “masters of manipulation and extortion.”

Not everyone was resting up during Golden Week. Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto was scheduled to go on a six-day blitz of the US, Europe and Africa starting April 29.

Surprising absolutely no one, the Japan National Tourism Organization announced that the number of foreigners who traveled to Japan in March was half the number compared to last year.

The Public Security Intelligence Agency said that the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult still has about 1,500 active members.

Nine Japanese universities have clubbed together to found a Japanese public high school in Shanghai-the first ever such school to open overseas.

In what is being described as the largest per person donation from any country since the earthquake and tsunami, Taiwan has offered Japan ¥13.9 billion, which works out to ¥600 per capita.

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.

Going Crackers for Homemade Crackers


Homemade Whole Grain Crackers

There are plenty of whole-grain crackers on store shelves, but none taste as good to me as those made at home. You can use a mix of grains and flours to make them, including gluten-free varieties like millet, buckwheat and rice flours, and top them with any number of seeds, herbs or spices. They’re quick to mix together and very easy to roll out.

Crackers are a great destination for sesame seeds, an excellent source of copper and manganese, and high in lignans, a type of fiber that may help lower cholesterol.

Sesame Crackers

The recipe has been tweaked over the years to produce a wholesome, rich, nutty flavor.

Buckwheat Crackers With Sesame

Perfect with smoked salmon, these crackers have an earthy, nutty flavor.

Olive Oil Crackers

Top these crackers with a Middle Eastern spice mix – or make your own.

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

A healthier version of those ubiquitous yellow-orange squares.

Gluten-Free Rice and Millet Flour Crackers

Use a little butter to make these crackers; with only olive oil, the crackers will be too dry.

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”

Robert Reich: Why Washington Should Pay Attention to the Economy Here and Now

After a week of non-stop Osama Bin Laden, Washington is now returning to the battle of the budget deficit and debt ceiling.

All over Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats are debating spending caps and automatic triggers, and whether to begin them before or after Election Day.

But if you don’t mind my asking, what about the economy? I’m not talking about the economy five or ten years from now, when projections show the federal budget wildly out of control or when foreigners might start dumping dollars.

I’m talking about the here and now economy – the one Americans are living in day to day.

Peter Rothberg: Help Defeat The ‘No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act’

Extremists in the House of Representatives won a vote to approve an anti-choice bill yesterday that would effectively end all insurance coverage of abortion-related services, and even “redefine rape.” The final vote was 251 to 175 with seventeen Democrats joining the entire Republican caucus.

As an excellent post at Mother Jones by Nick Baumann detailed, H.R. 3 would sharply reduce access to safe, legal abortions for women in this country by virtually eliminating insurance coverage for abortions. The redefinition of rape could be used to block women who were victims of incest involving statutory rape from using Medicaid to pay for an abortion. And in some cases, the bill would force women who were sexually assaulted into the hellish scenario of proving to IRS agents that they were victims of “forcible rape” or incest.

Mark Engler: Taboo Economics

I have a proposal: Let’s double US government funds devoted to promoting renewable energy. Let’s expand allocations for foreclosure prevention to help another million Americans keep their homes. Let’s launch a $10-billion infrastructure programme to repair crumbling roads and bridges. Let’s double the number of new maths and science teachers that President Obama hopes to train, bringing the total to 200,000. And let’s hire back all of those police officers fired by the city of Camden, New Jersey – already among the most dangerous places in the country before budget constraints compelled it to dismiss half of its police force in December.

While we’re at it, let’s reduce the deficit by about $40 billion.

This proposition is not voodoo economics. It is taboo economics. All of these things could be accomplished by trimming US military spending by just 10 per cent. Some of these suggestions (teacher training, Camden cops) are trifling items by the standards of Pentagon budgeting, together accounting for less than the cost of a single Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet.

Robert Naiman: Now is the Time for a Full Afghanistan Withdrawal

After OBL: McGovern/Jones Push for Real Withdrawal Plan

Following the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the floodgates opened in Washington this week for reconsideration of U.S. plans to continue the open-ended war in Afghanistan.

Now Representatives Jim McGovern and Walter Jones have introduced the “Afghanistan Exit and Accountability Act,” bipartisan legislation that would require the President present to Congress a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and a clear end date for the war. It would require the President to submit quarterly reports to Congress on the progress of troop withdrawal, as well as the human and financial costs of continuing the war. The President would also have to report how much money U.S. taxpayers would save if the war were brought to an end in six months, instead of five, ten, or twenty years.

Andy Worthington: The Unjustifiable Defense of Torture and Guantánamo

With the reported assassination of Osama bin Laden, one of the most alarming responses has been a kind of casual and widespread acceptance that the death of America’s number one bogeyman would not have been achieved without the use of torture, and without the existence of Guantánamo.

This is wrong on both fronts, as Jane Mayer of the New Yorker explained in response to an early manifestation of the story, put out by torture apologists Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol.

Steve Rendall: Right-Wing Political Violence: More Terror, Less Coverage

On the morning of January 17 in Spokane, Washington, city workers found a backpack with a bomb that was set to go off along the route of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. An FBI official (Spokane Spokesman Review, 1/19/11) called the bomb “a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties.” Another official told the Associated Press (1/19/11), “They haven’t seen anything like this in this country…. This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”

On March 9, Kevin Harpham, a white supremacist with past links to the neo-Nazi National Alliance, was arrested and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possessing an improvised explosive device. The device contained shrapnel dipped in rat poison, which can enhance bleeding (Hate Watch blog, 3/10/11), and was set on a park bench where its impact would be directed toward marchers.

The Longest 2 Minutes In Sports

If you want to you can watch Kentucky Derby coverage from 11 am ET (on Vs. where it actually started on Wednesday) until 7 pm (on NBC, where they spare you the pre-race hype until 4).

I suppose this is good thing since you can hardly be expected to follow Horse Racing unless you’re a tout or plunger in one of the few forms of gambling deemed socially acceptable (as opposed to Poker, which is not gambling at all) and 2 year olds don’t have much of a record to handicap.

Ice Cream.  Get your Tutsi Frootsie Ice Cream.

It’s really mostly an excuse to wear hats that would be rejected from a 5th Avenue Easter Parade or Royal Wedding and get tanked up on Bourbon that is best sipped with a soda chaser and not muddled up with mint.

Mint Julep


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar


To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

Post Time is 6:24 pm ET.

On This Day In History May 7

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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 7 is the 127th day of the year (128th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 238 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1824, the world premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the deaf composer’s supervision. It was Beethoven’s first appearance on stage in 12 years. Over the years the symphony has been performed for both political and non-political from the eve of Hitler’s birthday, to the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The Ode to Joy was used as the anthem by Kosovo when it declared it’s independence in 2008.

F1: Istanbul Park Qualifying

In Europe (yes, Turkey is a part of Europe) for the first time this year after a 3 week layoff.

There are some off track developments.  Ecclestone turned down a buyout bid saying that Formula One is not for sale, yet.  At least not to Murdoch’s News Corp.

Tomorrow will be the first race of the GP 2 season.  They keep them in Europe to reduce the travel expenses.  I can hardly keep the teams and drivers of Formula One straight, but it you have an interest they kick off Speed’s coverage at 6 am ET.  The actual race starts with the hype at a relatively civilized 7:30 am ET with the green flag at 8 and a repeat at 1:30 in the afternoon, so Richard can sleep in if he wants to (Dad seldom does the 3 am thing like I do anyway).

This break is traditionally used by the teams for technical development, so the cars you see in Europe are hardly the ones you saw in Asia at all, but with the new rules designed to make things “fairer” they’re not allowed to do as much of that any more.  Most teams have tweaked their aero, but they do that all the time anyway, the big news is Scuderia Marlboro UPC’s hydraulic dampeners.

You see Red Bull has been making everyone else (except McLaren) look pretty slow and apparently a big reason for that is their front wings flex a little closer to the track improving downforce.  Red Bull has been subjected to extensive ‘scrutineering’ and found legal because there are rules about how close to the ground you can get.  It’s tough to tell because their system is totally mechanical and it’s difficult to duplicate race conditions.

Marlboro UPC is attempting to counter with a hydraulic system to ensure they don’t exceed the limits and spent a long time at the end of practice getting examined.  I say it’s just something else heavy that can break so I see no real advantage, but the orders from Maranello are to start winning or they’ll take their toys and go home.

Frankly, outside of Vettel, Red Bull doesn’t look nearly as dominant as they did last year anyway and he hard parked during the second practice tearing up everything except the tub.  Not that it makes much difference, if they can’t fix it he’ll just have to drive the spare.

It rained heavily during the first practice and a lot of other people parked too.  McLaren never made it out of the pits because of clutch problems.

Istanbul Park is known for the 3 or 4 apex Turn 8, but most of the twisted metal yesterday was at Turn 11.  The surface is very rough so there will be lots of tire wear and again we are hearing rumors of back markers running unorthodox tire strategies.  They took over 1000 pounds of rolled up rubber off the track in China, Mark Weber has been changing tires more than anybody with little to show for the effort.

It’s also a Turn Left circuit, one of 4, but at least you have the 151 feet of elevation change to keep you amused.

As usual I’ll note the surprising developments, if any, below.

Six In The Morning

US tells Pakistan to name agents who aided bin Laden

Suspicion grows that someone knew al-Qaida leader’s location, shielded him


Pakistani officials say the Obama administration has demanded the identities of some of their top intelligence operatives as the United States tries to determine whether any of them had contact with Osama bin Laden or his agents in the years before the raid that led to his death early Monday morning in Pakistan.

The officials provided new details of a tense discussion between Pakistani officials and an American envoy who traveled to Pakistan on Monday, as well as the growing suspicion among United States intelligence and diplomatic officials that someone in Pakistan’s secret intelligence agency knew of Bin Laden’s location, and helped shield him.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 6, 2011-


This Week In The Dream Antilles

OMG!  OMG!! Has a week already elapsed?  Is today almost  Saturday?  Again? Is it time for that weekly digest?  Inquiring minds, including your Bloguero’s, want to know whether there was anything posted this week at the Dream Antilles for which your Bloguero is willing to take public responsibility.  

It was a complicated week, one beyond facile description.  Perhaps beyond comprehension.  And the writing?  What writing?  The writing at The Dream Antilles? That is best described by this rising and then descending sound: “Harrrrrrrrrrgh.”  Yes, your Bloguero confirms, as you may already have guessed, that to his dismay, your Bloguero’s muse apparently went fishing.  Again. This time for brown trout.  Her present whereabouts are undetermined.  And your Bloguero hasn’t heard from her.  She was last seen wading thigh deep in a rushing stream during a rain storm.  She was wearing a hat that looked like Indiana Jones’s and rain was dripping off the brim.  Your Bloguero briefly contemplated putting an ad up for her return (with a generous reward) on Craigslist, rejected that idea and then more characteristically began to sulk.  And mope.  Whining will probably be next.  These unattractive behaviors threaten to abound.  Until she returns.  And your Bloguero elects now to veil these unattractive behaviors from your view with an imaginary curtain.  There.  On with the task at hand.

The Elephant. (Parenthetical Note to reader: Quite a transition wasn’t that? (Parenthetical Note to reader to the previous Parenthetical Note: Your Bloguero misses the writing of David Foster Wallace.))  A short piece inspired in some fashion by writing by Macedonio in Museo de la Novela de Eterna, and with a must see video of a swimming elephant.  One reader (perhaps, in candor, this should read, “the reader”) inquired if the elephant was happy when, after swimming, she returned to land.  Your Bloguero noted with great comfort that the guy in the red hat in the video is Jacques Cousteau, and that, therefore, no animals’ feelings were hurt in any way in the making of this video.  (Parenthetical Note to reader: This is a professional elephant.  Do not try this at home with amateur elephants.  Or faux oceans.)

Death Of A Mass Murderer notes the killing of OBL and your Bloguero’s disappointment at the chanting, the partying, the cheering, the celebration of death.  Your Bloguero quotes extensively from a piece written by Rabbi Arthur Waskow that captures your Bloguero’s feelings.  The Bible, your Bloguero notes, is really useful here because among other things it is a repository for the Mythic.  The rejoicing of the Israelites at the death of their Pharaoh seemed to fit this event.

One other comment about the death of OBL.  Your Bloguero is alarmed at the repeated euphemistic use of the verb “got” to describe this event.  As in “we got him.”  This is not “got milk?”  This is not, as GWB uttered about Sadam H, “We got him,” meaning that he had been captured by troops and imprisoned.  This is a different “got.”  It’s now apparently a euphemistic synonym for killed.  It resembles in some ways that age old junior high school taunt, “I’m going to get you for that!”  Other verbs for the salient part of the event, which are probably more descriptive and at least as accurate as “got,” might be “shot” or “killed” or “executed” or even “murdered.”  If killing OBL was such a wonderful event, and evidently it is claimed to have been one, doesn’t it deserve to be called by its real name?  Not just by Obama, but also by the Trad Media?  Or is the use of “got” as the operable verb in this case chosen because it most resembles what imaginary TV cowboys might say and prolongs one’s feelings of justifiable revenge?

Finally, your Bloguero notes the passing of Ernesto Sabato a giant of Argentinian writing.

Your bloguero notes that this Digest is a weekly feature.  Your Bloguero tries to post this Digest on Saturday morning early.  He almost never succeeds in that.  But this week, to his utter amazement, he almost did.  Your bloguero will be back next week, hopefully on Saturday morning early if his Muse returns.

Popular Culture (Music) 20110506: Todd Rundgren

For those of you who read my pieces (here, and my other two regular series, Pique the Geek and My Little Town), you know that I appreciate multitalented individuals.  This artist certainly fulfills that criterion.  Not only a talented musician himself, he is also a studio wizard, outstanding technician, and excellent music producer.

I am not his biggest fan, but I do appreciate his talent and like very much several of his original works.  Please do not take this statement as holding him in some sort of dislike:  I like him very much but there are others that I like better.  This is not to detract from his contributions, but rather to describe my musical tastes.

He has been around for a long, long time with no apparent sign of quitting.  Please come with us to examine the career and some of the better (in my opinion) work of this creative genius.

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