06/18/2011 archive

Random Japan



The TMG discovered that opium poppies were being sold at home improvement centers in Tokyo and 18 other prefectures.

A tanker truck spilled 18 metric tons of milk after overturning in a single-vehicle accident in Shiga Prefecture late last month. The 32-year-old driver suffered minor injuries, mostly to his ego.

The education ministry announced that the number of Japanese studying abroad has declined every year since 2004.

A collection of drawings of coal miners by artist Sakubei Yamamoto (1892-1984) are the first Japanese works that UNESCO will list as a “Memory of the World.”

Two Japanese climbers were killed-likely by an avalanche-after summiting Mt. McKinley in Alaska.

Panasonic and eight other companies have banded together to build a “sustainable smart town” in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. The village will feature, among other energy-saving devices, “a system for sharing electric vehicles.”

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.

Farm-Fresh Favas


   They require double peeling, a job you might find tedious. But it goes more quickly than you’d think, especially if you have some company around to help, glasses of rosé in hand. Don’t believe those who tell you that young favas in particular don’t require double peeling; the light green skins that surround the beautiful darker bean have nothing going for them – they’re bitter and fibrous.

   When the beans are really young, you can eat them uncooked as a snack. I learned this from Lulu Peyraud, the proprietress of the famous French winery Domaine Tempier. She would serve tender shelled favas as an aperitif with chilled wine, red or rosé, setting them out on plates for guests to skin and snack on before dinner.

   To skin favas, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Drop the shelled fava beans into the water, and boil them for five minutes. Drain, and transfer immediately to the cold water. Allow the beans to cool for several minutes, then, holding several beans in one hand, slip off their skins by pinching the eye of the skin and squeezing gently. Place the shelled favas in a bowl.

Fava Bean Purée

A simple fava bean purée from Apulia, in Southern Italy.

Fava and Buttermilk Soup

Inspired by a soup made with buttermilk and peas in Patricia Wells’s wonderful new book, “Salad as a Meal.”

Fresh Fava Bean and Shrimp Risotto

This luxurious risotto is a cinch to make.

Spaghetti With Fava Beans, Bread Crumbs and Marjoram

A southern-Italy-inspired dish that can also be made with peas rather than fava beans.

Mediterranean Artichoke and Fresh Fava Stew

Here’s a way to use favas, artichokes, spring onions and green garlic – all fleetingly in season at this time of year.

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”.

Ari Berman: Netroots to Obama White House: Where’s the Love?

Given the angst about the Obama administration at this year’s Netroots Nation conference-from the president’s policies on Afghanistan and civil liberties to his prioritization of deficit reduction over jobs-there was much speculation about what type of reception White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer would get during his appearance Friday morning. And sure enough, Daily Kos moderator Kaili Joy Gray-a k a “Angry Mouse”-grilled Pfeiffer about the president’s positions on jobs, gay marriage, Libya and his reluctance to fight back against the GOP and use his executive authority to circumvent Republican obstruction.

Things were testy from the start, when Gray asked Pfeiffer why Obama has not introduced a new jobs plan to boost the lagging economy. “It is a false decision to say we don’t have a jobs bill,” Pfeiffer responded. “We have a number of proposals in Congress that have been blocked by Republicans.” He pointed to a national infrastructure bank, a national wireless program, clean energy investments and tax credits for small businesses as examples. “You can expect the president will unveil a number of new initiatives,” Pfeiffer said when pressed on the issue.

John Nichols: Senate Democrats Should Have Embraced Surtax on Millionaires

North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad does not serve as a Democrat.

He serves as a Democrat-Non-Partisan League senator.

That’s a recognition of the fact that the North Dakota Democratic Party and the old Non-Partisan League, a radical grouping that challenged corporate interests and the wealthy elites(with a state-owned bank, publicly-run grain elevators and progressive taxation) merged in 1956.

Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, showed a little of his NPL side when he floated the very good idea of using a surtax on millionaires as a way to bring down budget deficits.

Few scholars of North Dakota politics would confuse the senator with the NPL activists of old. Conrad’s actually a budget hawk. But he reached into the NPL cabinet and found a good idea for balancing budgets and addressing deficits: taxing the rich.

Conrad reportedly considered a three-percent surtax on the wealthy as part of an effort by Conrad to gain the support of Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who serves on the committee and has argued that at least half of any deficit-reduction plan must be paid for with new revenue – as opposed to deep cuts to needed domestic programs.

Simon Jenkins: Eisenhower’s Worst Fears Came True. We Invent Enemies to Buy the Bombs

Britain faces no serious threat, yet keeps waging war. While big defence exists, glory-hungry politicians will use it

Why do we still go to war? We seem unable to stop. We find any excuse for this post-imperial fidget and yet we keep getting trapped. Germans do not do it, or Spanish or Swedes. Britain’s borders and British people have not been under serious threat for a generation. Yet time and again our leaders crave battle. Why?

Last week we got a glimpse of an answer and it was not nice. The outgoing US Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, berated Europe’s “failure of political will” in not maintaining defense spending. He said NATO had declined into a “two-tier alliance” between those willing to wage war and those “who specialize in ‘soft’ humanitarian, development, peacekeeping and talking tasks”. Peace, he implied, is for wimps. Real men buy bombs, and drop them.

Danny Schechter: In Spain’s Tahrir Square: A Revolution Struggles to Be Born

MADRID, Spain — Spain is justly proud of the Paella, a distinctive dish that mixes diverse vegetables or seafood into a tasty fusion of delectability.

They have now created a political version in the form of Tahrir Square type encampment in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol where a diverse mix of activists—old, young, male-female, disabled, immigrant, activists from Western Sahara, have created a beachhead for what many say is the closest this country has come to a popular and distinctive revolutionary movement since the 1930’s.

Its been a month now since Real Democracy, a grass roots “platform,” as it called, began a march that initially only attracted a relative handful of activists but by the time it reached the shopping district at Puerta del Sol, it had swelled to over 25,000, surprising its organizers, participants and politicians from the two major parties.

This Week In The Dream Antilles

You never give me your money

you only give me your funny paper

And in the middle of negotiations you break down

I never give you my number

I only give you my situation

And in the middle of investigation I break down

This Week your Bloguero’s vehicle (Note: this does not mean the Mahayana) ended up in the breakdown lane.  Actually.  This is partially homophonic and also

oddly metaphorical: the brakes broke. Your Bloguero appreciates these heavily coded messages from the Universe.  But does it mean that the brakes were defective, or used too much, or used too little?  Likewise the driver, your Bloguero: too much brakeage, too little? Not enough breaks? Not enough braking? Time for vacation? It is, as Churchill said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside and enigma.  Your Bloguero contemplates these messages and their significance, believe it or not.  He has taken out his secret decoder ring and is working diligently on it.  So far he has no results to report. If you dear reader know what it means, if you know what any of it means, please write the answer on a $50 bill and mail it to your Bloguero.  Meanwhile, your Bloguero’s negotiations with the Universe’s mail room continue with your Bloguero’s quest for greater explication meeting a certain persistent opaqueness.

Wednesday your Bloguero celebrated Bloomsday, an actual holiday in Ireland, and the only holiday anywhere based on a novel. Your Bloguero hears you muttering.  The Bible is not a novel.  Regardless, your Bloguero thought about a breakfast made of the “inner organs of beasts and fowls” but managed instead only a Gorgonzola sandwich, a salad, and a glass of claret.  Poldo would have been proud that his lunch of 107 years ago was so beautifully and joyfully duplicated.

New York State, where your Bloguero finds himself at the moment, is trying to get to a vote on marriage equality.  Something with the misleading name of National Organization For Marriage (which is actually against the marriages in question) has been making repeated, annoying Robo Calls to your Bloguero’s several phone lines.  And even leaving messages on the voicemail that it called to take an important survey.  Hah.  What a bogus waste of money, what an annoyance.  Stop The Robo Calls, Please explains who is paying for this insanity.  And as your Bloguero posts this digest, the question of whether the vote will occur and whether there are enough votes for it to pass the New York Senate appears still undecided.

Your Bloguero fell hook, line and sinker for the Amina Abdallah hoax.  First, your Bloguero, incensed that the blogger who wrote the Gay Girl in Damascus blog had been targeted by Syrian government goons, kidnapped by thugs, and silenced if not disappeared, urged readers to Free Amina!.  But then questions about the authenticity of the blogger arose, and your Bloguero dutifully wrote that maybe he (and others) were being snookered in How Many “L’s” Are There In “Gullible”.  These early reports led eventually to an admission that Amina was actually an American man in Scotland.  And a fiction. Your Bloguero could have let the issue drop.  But no.  He put up a mea culpa, It Was A Hoax.  There Is No Amina, thus capping a three-essay hors d’oeuvre to what had by then become a five course meal of crow sushi, which your Bloguero dutifully ate.  Face meet egg.

As if the embarrassment of Amina weren’t enough to leave The Dream Antilles abandoned in the breakdown lane, there was Anthony Weiner’s apology (before resignation) to that thug Andrew Breitbart.  Your Bloguero responded in disgust with Time To Change The Channel On The Weiner Affair.  The entire affaire may have set a new world standard for narcissism and hubris, but the folks at Guinness World Records haven’t reported out yet.  They may be considering it for another award in another category, political ineptitude.

The week couldn’t have been complete without your Bloguero complaining about the US Men’s National Soccer Team.  Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game was a discussion of the US’s embarrassing loss in the Gold Cup (Copa de Oro) to Panama.  Your Bloguero is no fan of that prima ballerina Landon Donovan, but your Bloguero’s contempt for him is nothing compared to his disgust at what tries to pass for the US defense.  Put another way, there are players on the field, but they are not a defense.  They are an embarrassment to your Bloguero.  And they’d be an embarrassment to the nation if the nation, like your Bloguero, cared about futbol.  But enough recrimination.  This weekend the US plays Jamaica.  So if the loss to Panama qualified as a national disgrace, your Bloguero is sure it will be topped by this event. Your Bloguero thinks Jamaica will eliminate the US, 2-0.  To the US team your Bloguero thumbs his nose and says, “Jamaican me crazy.”  In any futbol oriented country in the world, the US coach and many of the players would be the focus of a media hail storm.  It only furthers the disgrace that it won’t happen here, no matter how terribly the team plays this weekend.

Your Bloguero notes that this Digest is a weekly feature. Your Bloguero, though needs encouragement to continue.  From you.  It’s easy to give him that.  If you read this Digest, please click the “encouragement jar” in the comments.  That’s the only way your Bloguero will know that you visited.  And sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps him going.  Hasta pronto.


On This Day In History June 18

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.

June 18 is the 169th day of the year (170th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 196 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1812, War of 1812 begins

The day after the Senate followed the House of Representatives in voting to declare war against Great Britain, President James Madison signs the declaration into law–and the War of 1812 begins. The American war declaration, opposed by a sizable minority in Congress, had been called in response to the British economic blockade of France, the induction of American seaman into the British Royal Navy against their will, and the British support of hostile Indian tribes along the Great Lakes frontier. A faction of Congress known as the “War Hawks” had been advocating war with Britain for several years and had not hidden their hopes that a U.S. invasion of Canada might result in significant territorial land gains for the United States.

The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire, including those of present-day Canada. The Americans declared war in 1812 for a number of reasons, including a desire for expansion into the Northwest Territory, trade restrictions because of Britain’s ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, and the humiliation of American honour. Until 1814, the British Empire adopted a defensive strategy, repelling multiple American invasions of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada. However, the Americans gained control over Lake Erie in 1813, seized parts of western Ontario, and destroyed Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederacy. In the Southwest General Andrew Jackson humbled the Creek nation at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend but with the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, the British adopted a more aggressive strategy, sending in three large armies along with more patrols. British victory at the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814 allowed the British to capture and burn Washington, D.C. American victories in September 1814 and January 1815 repulsed British invasions of New York, Baltimore and New Orleans.

The war was fought in three theaters: At sea, warships and privateers of both sides attacked each other’s merchant ships. The British blockaded the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and mounted large-scale raids in the later stages of the war. Both land and naval battles were fought on the frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River. The South and the Gulf coast saw major land battles in which the American forces destroyed Britain’s Indian allies and defeated the main British invasion force at New Orleans. Both sides invaded each other’s territory, but these invasions were unsuccessful or temporary. At the end of the war, both sides occupied parts of the other’s territory, but these areas were restored by the Treaty of Ghent.

In the U.S., battles such as the Battle of New Orleans and the earlier successful defense of Baltimore (which inspired the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”) produced a sense of euphoria over a “second war of independence” against Britain. It ushered in an “Era of Good Feelings” in which the partisan animosity that had once verged on treason practically vanished. Canada also emerged from the war with a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity. Britain regarded the war as a sideshow to the Napoleonic Wars raging in Europe; it welcomed an era of peaceful relations and trade with the United States.

My encounter with Jane Curtin

Inspired TheMomCat’s reporting from Netroots Nation.

I’m informed that the only reason John Aravosis (of Americablog) has been wearing shorts to his sessions is that mcjoan spilled something on his good pants.  And yet TheMomCat reports to me he’s been wearing the same shorts for two days!

I want to tell you the story of me and Jane Curtin.

I was at a conference in New York and it was lunch time and Jane was the featured speaker.  I was in my business clothes as befits an officer in my club and I and the rest of our delegation got in line to pick up our boxes.  Beverages were served from 2 Liter bottles buffet style and I felt fortunate when I got to the station they had Club Soda (though Seltzer is better for you because it has less salt) because it’s one of my favorite soft drinks, pure fizz, not too sweet, and no caffine which makes me twitchy.  There were no bottles open so I opened one and it proceeded to drench me in that Mentos and Diet Coke way that they do.

Hah, hah, hah.  My “friends” pointed and hooted at me as I squished to the table.  Good thing it was just Club Soda which not only dries, but you can use as a stain remover.

So we sat down and ate and predictably late Jane and her entourage came in and very democratically moved through the same line we had used.

Evidently others in the grander group also liked Club Soda and Jane did too but when she got there the bottle was empty so she opened a new one.

It was extremely gratifying she had no better results than I, the embarassing part was that I was the only one that couldn’t suppress my laughter.

Six In The Morning

Obama pressed for swift U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) urges president Obama to quickly pull out at least half of the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, another sign of Congress’ unease with the conflict.

By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau  

Reporting from Washington– A leading antiwar congresswoman established a new marker in the Afghanistan war debate Friday, calling on President Obama to swiftly withdraw at least 50,000 U.S. troops in a further indication of Congress’ growing unease with the 10-year-old military operation.

The push from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) offers the president a view from the political left as the White House engages in internal deliberations over the scale of the drawdown Obama plans to announce in July. Lee said anything less than a halving of the 100,000 U.S. troop presence would be too modest.

Saturday’s Headlines:

Drought and poachers take Botswana’s natural wonder to brink of catastrophe

Saudi women take to the road in show of defiance

Paris and Berlin unite behind new Greek aid package

TEPCO documents show problems encountered in venting, pumping water to damaged reactors

Deploying New Tools to Stop the Hackers

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for June 17, 2011-


Popular Culture (Media) 20110617: I Quit, and an open Letter to Keith Olbermann

This may be a bit of an enigmatic title, so I shall explain posthaste.  I have quit listening to and watching the extreme right wing talkers.  I have monitored them for years, so you do not have to do so, but I finally just had enough, and could not take it any more.  There are a couple of reasons, but the largest one was that I was stupider after listening than before.

Ma always told me that after I read a book, listened to a radio program, or watched a TeeVee show to ask myself one question:  what have I learnt?  In the case of the radical, hate filled, ultra right wing talkers, NOTHING lately.  I learnt some time ago who they were and what they were preaching, and it is nothing but hatred and fear.  I guess that I was just listening more recently for how they would do it.

That is enough.  I am gone.  I quit listening to the drug addled and deafened Limbaugh some months ago because all he does is bellow.  More to follow.