06/11/2011 archive

The Belmont Stakes

Are we through yet?

I’m sorry about my lack of enthusiasm, but as I’ve mentioned it’s the busiest time of the year.  This third race of the Triple Crown is the longest even though it doesn’t get the hype or coverage the other two do and usually serves as a reminder that we aren’t going to have a Triple Crown winner, not that it’s important.

For one thing Thoroughbred race horses are as ridiculously inbred as any Hillbilly, Hapsburg, or Versailles Villager (yes, I’m talking about you Luke Russert).  For another it’s just stupid to judge them on the basis of 3 races when they are a mere 3 years old.

But we’ve indulged in Bullfighting and Bear Baiting for thousands of years and cock and dog fights are still popular with a certain sadistic mindset.  Horse racing, as cruel as it is, isn’t necessarily harmful to the ponies or those that watch them.  It is a spectacular display of wasted resources by our oligarch upper class.

The Belmont Stakes are perhaps the most democratic of the Triple Crown Races even though it is held in Queens.  Indications of that are they can’t settle on a song or a drink.  The song has ranged from Sidewalks of New York, a charming Tin Pan Alley tune better known as East Side, West Side, to the Theme from New York, New York (as performed by Frank Sinatra and appropriated as the Yankees anthem and not the original Liza Minelli rendition), to 2010’s Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z (I can’t believe that will last for long).

Likewise the drink has changed from the absolutely un-potable White Carnation to the refined trashcan punch that is the Belmont Breeze.

I suggest instead the classic Cosmopolitan.


  • Ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 fluid ounces lemon vodka
  • 1 fluid ounce Cointreau
  • fluid ounce cranberry juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Long thin piece orange zest


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, and cranberry and lime juices. Cover and shake vigorously to combine and chill. Strain the cosmopolitan into a chilled martini glass. Twist the orange zest over the drink and serve.

Note: The drink can also be stirred in a pitcher.

In my club, we used to call this a Woo-Woo and there are 2 things to remember about it.  First, you can never have enough ice.  Second, no toast is too long.

May the camels of your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, grand children be numerous and healthy.

Random Japan



Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho won his seventh straight grand sumo tournament with a 13-2 record, equaling the record of former sumo bad-ass Asashoryu.

A pair of masked men made off with ¥604 million after strong-arming a dozing security guard at a Tachikawa depot that handles cash deposits from the Tokyo Central Post Office. It was the biggest cash heist ever in Japan.

Sony was hit by more bad news when it was revealed that an “online intruder” accessed one if its subsidiaries and pinched over $1,200 worth of redeemable gift points.

The breach pales, of course, to an earlier one on Sony’s PlayStation Network and Online Entertainment services that “compromised the personal information” of over 100 million accounts.

Then later, Sony revealed that “personal info on 8,500 customers of its online music service in Greece may have been leaked due to a cyber attack, while similar assaults by hackers occurred in Thailand and Indonesia as well.”

So it might not come as a surprise that Sony said it was expecting to be in the red again in fiscal 2010 for the third year in a row with a group net loss of ¥260 billion, its biggest hit since 1995. They’re blaming this one on the March 11 earthquake.

As expected, the March 11 earthquake and nuclear accident resulted in a huge drop off in the number of foreign visitors to Japan in April (295,800), down a record 62.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

BTW, April 2011 was the first month with less than 300,000 visitors since May 2003, when the SARS epidemic was all the rage in Asia.

F1: Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Qualifying

Also known as the Canadian Grand Prix the track itself is notable for an extremely long straight down the backside of Ile Notre-Dame now punctuated with a chicane that’s actually hardly noticable but which complies with FIA regulations.  The other one at the end of the Start/Finish straight is jocularly called “Welcome to Quebec” for it’s tendency to collect cars who’s brakes have failed under the stress.

During yesterday’s practice they were running the Softs and Super Softs, but they’re expecting a rainy weekend so as per usual it’s not an indicator of actual performance.  Last year Hamilton and McLaren had a particularly good day.  The year before that it got dropped in favor of Abu Dhabi.

At least Bernie got negotiated down from the $35 million he initially demanded to a mere $15 million taxpayer dollars.

Other than that I’m not sure what there is to say.  Vettel has a commanding lead in the Driver’s Standings, Red Bull is not quite so convincing in the Constructor’s Championship.  Scuderia Marlboro UPC needs several miracles to avoid being overtaken by some of the mid-range teams like Mercedes, Renault, and Force India and Maranello is unhappy about it.

Race coverage tomorrow is on Fox starting at 1 pm.

Developments and surprises (if any) below.

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.

Building a Better Breadstick


On the popular television show “Glee,” the ultimate prize for a great performance is a trip to a restaurant called Breadstix. And in the real world, breadsticks are a main attraction at restaurants like the Olive Garden, and even pizza delivery services have gotten on the breadstick bandwagon.

But in terms of nutrition, the typical breadstick is not a food most people associate with healthful eating. This week, Martha Rose Shulman tries to change that image with five new recipes for baking a more healthful breadstick. . . .

Here are five flavorful ways to prepare healthful homemade breadsticks. And for a gluten-free breadstick, you can substitute gluten-free flour mix for the whole-wheat flour in this week’s recipes.

Whole-Wheat Breadsticks

These grainy breadsticks can be irresistible, and they’re much healthier than the restaurant variety.

Whole-Wheat and Walnut Breadsticks

Walnut oil gives these breadsticks a nutty flavor.

Whole-Wheat Breadsticks With Sesame

Sesame seeds are used in both the dough and the coating of these nutty-tasting breadsticks.

Rye Caraway Breadsticks

Rye and caraway, a match made in heaven, aren’t just for Jewish rye bread and rye crisps.

Seeded Semolina and Rice Flour Breadsticks

Sesame, poppy and sunflower seeds give these breadsticks a satisfying crunch.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

Jamelle Bouie: Washington: ‘Let’s Cut Spending!’ The Public: ‘Let’s Raise Taxes!’

Conservatives are fond of claiming the United States as a “center-right country,” but public opinion polling routinely shows a country of people who amenable-if not enthusiastic-about liberal solutions to public policy problems. For example, in a recent Pew survey, when asked what they would support to cut the deficit, large majorities support a grab bag of liberal policies: raising the Social Security contribution cap, raising taxes on high-income earners, reducing our military presence, and limiting tax deductions for large corporations. . . . .

This holds true even when broken down by partisan affiliation. Along with 73 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents, 54 percent of Republicans support the Social Security contribution cap. Likewise, 56 percent of Republicans want to reduce our military commitments abroad, and 62 percent want to limit tax deductions for large corporations.

In other words, the deficit conversation in Washington-with it’s near-obsessive focus on spending cuts above all other solutions-is wildly out-of-sync with public preferences.

Paul Krugman: Inflation Fears Rising Faster Than Prices in US and Europe

Two questions about inflation:

1. What would the European Central Bank be doing if it were the Federal Reserve?

2. Why have some measures of core inflation in the United States ticked up slightly recently?

On the first question, Eurostat offers a consumer price index online sans energy, food and tobacco (which is more or less U.S.-style core).  If you look at the 12-month change, the euro zone looks like the United States – there is no good reason to raise rates. To be fair, on the labor side things look a bit different: there are actual labor shortages in some parts of Europe, reflecting both low labor mobility and the extreme asymmetry of the European shock. But raising rates for all of Europe because parts of Germany are doing well is, as I’ve written before, worse than the one-size-fits-all policy euroskeptics warned about. It’s one size fits one. And the case for a somewhat higher inflation target is even stronger for the euro zone than it is for the United States.

Meanwhile, back in the new country: Core inflation in the United States has ticked up slightly recently. What’s that about?

David Sirota: America’s Energy Ethos: Do, Regardless of Harm

Laugh me off as the idealistic son of a physician (which I am), but I still thought the doctor’s ethos of “first do no harm” was a notion we could all agree on. Even in this hyper-polarized Era of the Screaming Red-Faced Partisan, I thought we would witness the recent Fukushima reactor meltdown or footage of Americans setting their tap water on fire and at least agree to stop pursuing energy policies that we know endanger our health and safety-if not out of altruism, then out of self-interest.

How embarrassingly naive I was. That, or I momentarily forgot that this isn’t just any industrialized country-this is America circa 2011, a haven of hubris that has become hostile to the “do no harm” principle.

This makes us different from, say, Japan and Germany when it comes to nuclear power. Scarred by fallout, the former has canceled plans to build 14 new nuclear plants and has radically altered its energy agenda, now moving to pursue solar rather than atomic energy. Likewise, according to The Associated Press, the latter reacted to Japan’s plight by voting “in favor of a ban on nuclear power from 2022 onward.”

Robert Parry: Making the US Economy “Scream”

Modern Republicans have a simple approach to politics when they are not in the White House: Make America as ungovernable as possible by using almost any means available, from challenging the legitimacy of opponents to spreading lies and disinformation to sabotaging the economy.

Over the past four decades or so, the Republicans have simply not played by the old give-and-take rules of politics. Indeed, if one were to step back and assess this Republican approach, what you would see is something akin to how the CIA has destabilized target countries, especially those that seek to organize themselves in defiance of capitalist orthodoxy.

To stop this spread of “socialism,” nearly anything goes. Take, for example, Chile in the early 1970s when socialist President Salvador Allende won an election and took steps aimed at improving the conditions of the country’s poor.

Sarah Anderson: Cut Wall Street Down to Size With a Financial Speculation Tax

If you want to transform the economy, you have to cut Wall Street down to its proper size. One way to do that is to tax the short-term speculative activities that dominate and distort financial markets.

For ordinary investors, the costs would be negligible, like a tiny insurance fee to protect against crashes caused by speculation. But for the highfliers who are most responsible for the financial crisis, the tax could raise the cost of highly leveraged derivatives trading and stock-flipping enough to discourage the most dangerous behavior.

Remember the “flash crash” of May 6, 2010, when the Dow plummeted nearly 1,000 points? If a tax of only 0.25 percent on each transaction had been in place for just the twenty most frenzied minutes of that day, traders would’ve faced $142 million in fees.

John Nichols: Fraud in Fitzwalkerstan: A Legislator is Lying

Wisconsin State Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, is proud of the fact that his Republican Party is recruiting and running spoiler candidates in Democratic primaries for the seats of GOP senators who are being recalled.

These races will decide who will control the upper house of the legislature in a state that now has one-party rule-and a governor who is bent on using all of that power to break labor unions, slash education funding and begin a process of dismantling some of the best Medicaid-supported state healthcare programs in the nation.

Governor Scott Walker could not do any of these things without a pliant legislature. And Fitzgerald (with his brother, Jeff, the Assembly Speaker) keeps things working for Walker.

Scott Fitzgerald, a longtime ally of the governor (who recently appointed Fitzgerald’s father to head the State Patrol) is Walker’s most ardent legislative handmaiden.

Fitzgerald is shameless-and proud of it.

When Is A Lobbyist Not A Lobbyist?

Answer: When it’s a Republican former governor shilling for fracking. It takes a comedian to nail former Governor Tom Ridge (R-PA) trying to say he’s not a lobbyist and cover up the dangers of fracking.

On This Day In History June 11

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 image to enlarge

June 11 is the 162nd day of the year (163rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 203 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress selects Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Robert R. Livingston of New York to draft a declaration of independence.

Knowing Jefferson’s prowess with a pen, Adams urged him to author the first draft of the document, which was then carefully revised by Adams and Franklin before being given to Congress for review on June 28.

The revolutionary treatise began with reverberating prose:

Draft and adoption

While political maneuvering was setting the stage for an official declaration of independence, a document explaining the decision was being written. On June 11, 1776, Congress appointed a “Committee of Five”, consisting of John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, to draft a declaration. Because the committee left no minutes, there is some uncertainty about how the drafting process proceeded-accounts written many years later by Jefferson and Adams, although frequently cited, are contradictory and not entirely reliable. What is certain is that the committee, after discussing the general outline that the document should follow, decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. Considering Congress’s busy schedule, Jefferson probably had limited time for writing over the next seventeen days, and likely wrote the draft quickly. He then consulted the others, made some changes, and then produced another copy incorporating these alterations. The committee presented this copy to the Congress on June 28, 1776. The title of the document was “A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.” Congress ordered that the draft “lie on the table”.

On Monday, July 1, having tabled the draft of the declaration, Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole, with Benjamin Harrison of Virginia presiding, and resumed debate on Lee’s resolution of independence. John Dickinson made one last effort to delay the decision, arguing that Congress should not declare independence without first securing a foreign alliance and finalizing the Articles of Confederation.[64] John Adams gave a speech in reply to Dickinson, restating the case for an immediate declaration.

24 Hours of Le Mans

So a couple of weekends ago I talked about Lime Rock and I mentioned then that Sport Car racing is a little bit different from most other kinds of motor sports.

One of the differences is the length of the races.  Many of the events are timed rather than a fixed distance and some last quite a while.  This weekend is the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency commonly known as Le Mans.

It’s run on the Circuit de la Sarthe which at 8.5 miles is one of the longest still used for racing.  The Ligne Droite des Hunaudières (better known as the Mulsanne Straight) is 3.7 miles long though they added 2 chicanes in the ’90s when the FIA decided that no straight section of track over 2 kilometers would continue to be allowed.

Other safety changes include not letting any driver do a shift of over 4 hours or drive more than 14 hours in total.  You must have a team of at least 3 drivers.  The top 2 classes are Le Mans Prototypes 1 & 2 and the other 2 classes are GT 2s and GT 1s (for the last year) and GT AMs (their successor).

It really is an endurance race.  Cars are required to turn off their engines in the pits so there’s always the question of if you can start them up again.  It’s very hot which is tough on tires and the high speeds (over 200 mph in many sections of the track) put a lot of strain on the brakes when you want to change direction (say for a corner or something trivial like that).

Just as in the iconic movie Le Mans, interesting things can happen at any time, though in fact they rarely do.  Speed will have 18 hours of live coverage starting at 8:30 am with breaks for the Turn Left Pocono 500, Qualifying at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (at 2 pm), and Motorcycle racing from Mt. Morris.

This year they’ll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1991 Mazda win and the 44th of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt spraying Henry Ford II and Carroll Shelby with champagne instead of drinking it starting the tradition of wasting good wine.

If anything actually exciting occurs feel free to make note of it below.

Update:  Now with Grid positions.

Six In The Morning

Hopes are low as Afghanistan’s Karzai visits Pakistan

Analysts say they see little hope of progress on forging a truce with militants. Separately, CIA chief Leon Panetta, picked to be the next U.S. Defense secretary, meets with Pakistan’s army and intelligence heads.  

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

June 11, 2011  

Reporting from Karachi, Pakistan- Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived in Islamabad on Friday for a two-day summit with his Pakistani counterparts that is expected to focus on efforts to forge a truce with the Taliban after years of militant violence in both countries.

But analysts said they saw little hope of concrete progress from his meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, given lingering distrust and security problems on their shared lawless border.

“I don’t expect anything substantive to come out of this,” said Mahmood Shah, a Pakistani analyst and retired brigadier. “Both sides have an interest in reintegrating the Taliban, but I don’t see anything much.”

Saturday’s Headlines:

Syrians torn between terror and defiance as regime cracks down

Misurata bombarded by Gaddafi’s artillery

Graffiti Artist Saves Church from Closure

CIA chief confronts Pak over collusion with militants

Sudan mounts airstrikes to control oil fields

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for June 10, 2011-


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