07/09/2011 archive

Random Japan



After winning 10 straight national trampoline championships, 27-year-old Haruka Hirota decided to retire from the sport due to a rule change regarding how much time the athletes spend in the air.

Former Livedoor boss Takafumi Horie decided to go out in style, sporting a Mohawk haircut and wearing a T-shirt bearing the phrase “Go To Jail” as he began his prison sentence for fraud.

Forty-year-old tennis queen Kimiko Date Krumm gave Venus Williams a run for her money at Wimbledon, before finally bowing out 6-7 (6), 6-3, 8-6 in nearly three hours in the second round.

In Sapporo, four “Super Grandmas” aged between 75 and 88 set a world record in the 400-meter medley for swimmers with a combined age between 320 and 359 years. Their combined age was 322 years and they shaved a full 40 seconds off the record.

Doara, the popular mascot of the Chunichi Dragons baseball club, was sent down to the minor leagues to work on his flips after a few mishaps.

Yoshie Soma, a 69-year-old special adviser to the president of Kobe University, was named one of the “most distinguished women in chemistry and chemical engineering in the world” by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. She discovered a copper carbonyl catalyst in the 1960s that has been used in paint for cars and the bottom of ships.

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.

Recipes for a Saucy Summer


Tomatoes aren’t the only vegetable that you can turn into a sauce or condiment. Onions and fennel cook down to a thick, sweet, jammy confit. Roasted peppers can be simmered until they’re soft and saucy, then tossed with pasta, piled onto bruschetta or spooned over fish or chicken.

Pungent Tomato Sauce With Capers and Vinegar

Enjoy this sauce with pasta or grains, over vegetables (try it with cauliflower) or on a bruschetta.

Pungent Parsley and Caper Sauce

A sort of Italian salsa verde, this sauce goes well with grains, vegetables and fish.

Roasted Pepper Sauce

Grilled peppers add depth to the flavor of this sauce.

Onion ‘Marmalade’

Use this “marmalade” as a topping for grains, a sandwich spread or a bruschetta topping.

Fennel Marmalade

Fennel grows sweeter as it cooks.

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”.

William Rivers Pitt: A Looming Betrayal

Exactly what the hell is going on around here?

On Thursday, headlines on both the Washington Post and the New York Times announced that President Obama had put both Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block, as part of some “grand bargain” with House Speaker Boehner and the GOP to cut the deficit and avoid blowing the August 2 debt limit deadline. The deal, as reported, would also include as much as $1 trillion in “new revenue” to be raised by closing off and eliminating loopholes in the tax code. No tax increases of any kind were on the table.


This is a matter of honor, plain and simple. An ocean of blood, sweat and tears has been spent bringing these all-important programs to life, and even more has been spent protecting and defending them. If this president consents to throw all that over in an act of political triangulation, he will be marked in my book for all time as a failure, a betrayer, and a disgrace.

In my book, and in many other books besides.

New York Times Editorial: Safe, Not Sorry, on Drilling

The Cuomo administration seems prepared to strike the right balance between environmental protection and economic development as it writes the rules that will govern hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale formations.

A long-awaited report issued July 1 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recognizes hydraulic fracturing’s potential dangers to water supplies and recommends a flat ban on drilling inside New York City’s sprawling watershed. It would ban drilling in the Syracuse watershed, in aquifers used by other cities and towns, and in state parks and wildlife preserves.

The report, however, is merely a draft. The final environmental assessment and the detailed regulations to follow must be tightly drawn before New Yorkers can be confident that the gas will be extracted with minimum risk.

A. C. Grayling: From the Gutter, Into the Sewer

One anomalous feature of British journalism is its long history of scurrilous, muckraking weekly scandal-sheets, the tabloids or “gutter press,” which since the Victorian era have delighted blue-collar readers with stories of murders and sexual misconduct.

Mr. Murdoch’s achievement was to take the tabloid press from the gutter into the sewer, widening its range from coverage of celebrity scandals to the performance of criminal acts. Some of the latter, such as hacking into the phones of crime victims and their families, were appalling.

There is no redeeming feature in the scandal that has engulfed Mr. Murdoch’s British fief, News International, other than that it has now killed his biggest-selling newspaper, The News of the World. This tabloid made its money by regularly crossing the line of decency; the revelation that it also regularly crossed the line of legality surprises no one, for no one expected any better. What has horrified the British public is the nature of the illegalities. Murdoch journalists not only hacked into the phones of child murder victims and their parents, but of the families of victims of terrorist attacks and of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

David R. Row: Death Penalty, Still Racist and Arbitrary

LAST week was the 35th anniversary of the return of the American death penalty. It remains as racist and as random as ever.

Several years after the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a University of Iowa law professor, David C. Baldus (who died last month), along with two colleagues, published a study examining more than 2,000 homicides that took place in Georgia beginning in 1972. They found that black defendants were 1.7 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants and that murderers of white victims were 4.3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those who killed blacks.

What became known as the Baldus study was the centerpiece of the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision in McCleskey v. Kemp. That case involved a black man, Warren McCleskey, who was sentenced to die for murdering a white Atlanta police officer. Mr. McCleskey argued that the Baldus study established that his death sentence was tainted by racial bias. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that general patterns of discrimination do not prove that racial discrimination operated in particular cases.

Joe Conason: Obama’s Raw Deal?

Suddenly Republican leaders in Congress, after months of staring down the Democrats over a potentially disastrous debt default, began blinking so fast that they might be signaling in Morse code. Although their message is muddled and illogical — with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., saying he can accept closing tax loopholes only if such measures are “revenue neutral,” thus canceling their budgetary value — the Republicans now appear to understand that they will be blamed by voters if the negotiations collapse.

And Democrats appear to understand that they have the political advantage, as they voiced support for a proposal by Senate Budget Committee chair Kent Conrad, D-N.D., to reduce future deficits by $4 trillion with an even split between increased revenues and reduced spending.

But just when the Republicans are showing fear and losing momentum, there is one important Democrat who seems to think it is time to wave the white flag — and give his enemies a historic victory on the eve of his own re-election bid.

David Sirota The Finland Education Phenomenon

When I heard the news last week that the Department of Education is aiming to subject 4-year-olds to high-stakes testing, all I could do is shake my head in disbelief and despondently mutter a slightly altered riff off “The Big Lebowski’s” Walter Sobchak.

Four-year-olds, dude.

You don’t have to be as dyspeptic as Walter to know this is madness. According to Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, who headed President Obama’s education transition team, though we already “test students in the United States more than any other nation,” our students “perform well below those of other industrialized countries in math and science.” Yet the Obama administration, backed by corporate foundations, is nonetheless intensifying testing at all levels, as if doing the same thing and expecting different results is innovative “reform” rather than what it’s always been: insanity.

John Nichols: As Unemployment Spikes, Obama’s Got a Bigger Problem Than the Debt Ceiling

The big story out of Washington-and rightly so-is the debt ceiling fight that President Obama seems to be coming very close to losing. If the president abandons his 2008 campaign promise to be an absolute defender of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, he will have very little indeed to run on in 2012.

But that won’t be what beats him.

Because the biggest story in America is a different one from the biggest story in Washington. Americans are not that into the debt ceiling debate. Polling has suggested that less than a quarter of Americans are “closely following” the fight. Those numbers will rise a bit as the deadline gets closer and as the media hype the issue.

The issue that Americans have been following closely, and will continue to follow straight through the 2012 election cycle, the issue that tops the polls on the list of concerns, is the jobs crisis. Americans are worried about unemployment and underemployment.

And on Friday they got a lot more worried.

Le Tour- Stage 8

Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy 118 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Flaming chunks of twisted metal.

Bradley Wiggins is entirely out and Team Sky is in bad shape after his crash.  Geraint Thomas forfeited the White (Young Rider) Jersey to fall back and assist Wiggins.  Sportsmanship.

It split the Peloton and left only 80 riders in the zero delta (got the same time as the Stage winner, Mad Manx Cavendish) group including Hushovd, Gilbert, Frank and Andy, Evans, and Contador.  Everyone else added about 3 minutes or more.  Liepheimer of Radio Shack suffered additional indignity with a puncture and Horner finished dead last and barely at that.  Broken nose and concussion, unlikely to start after overnight observation and a morning examination by the team physician.

After the carnage BruceMcF evaluates the GC this way

Contador, the Schleck brothers, Cadel Evans, Kloden, David Millar, Vinokourov are all in a position where what matters is what will happen when they hit the high mountains, with Sammy Sanchez still looking to make up 2:35 on the highest placed GC contender

This Stage is rated Medium Mountain and the first place where we can expect race changing deltas.

They say you can’t win Le Tour in the first week, but you can sure lose it.  We shall see what we shall see.

Vs. coverage starts at 8 am with your half hour of hype.  I’ll be concentrating on Silverstone and later- napping.

F1: Silverstone Qualifying

I’ll start upfront by admitting that this does not seem to be McLaren’s year.  As one of the commentators helpfully pointed out, Vettel could DNF the next 3 races and still lead the Driver’s Championship.  In the spirit of schadenfreude I’ll point out the same applies to Scuderia Marlboro UPC in spades.

That said there are big changes at Silverstone.  The first is the track itself where they have repositioned the pit and renumbered all the turns.  The new Paddock Building is not as horrendously ugly as it could be I suppose, but the snide sniping at the fact the press pen doesn’t have any windows where you can check your imported Maine Weather Stick (remember- if it’s wet, it’s raining) has already begun.

The FIA Rules committee frowns on the practice of using Pit Lane to shorten your lap even though it’s perfectly possible and difficult to prevent even with the speed limit.

This is not their only folly, the principal one under discussion this weekend will be their jihad against Off Throttle Exhaust Blown Diffusers.  A diffuser is a bit of aerodynamic undercarriage designed to replace the downforce lost when the FIA shrank the rear wing to encourage overtaking because big ones were spoiling the air for following cars (the opposite of Turn Left drafting).  In order to make it more effective they blow the exhaust from the engine across it (usually back to front) to increase the wind speed.

Now the fact is that when you usually need this downforce is just at the moment when you take your foot off the gas which not only reduces the ambient air speed but also the exhaust volume.  Smart engineers have learned how to increase the exhaust volume when you take your foot off the gas.

The FIA has now ruled this ‘movable aerodynamics’ and disallowed it, starting with Engine Mapping (different software setups controlling off throttle engine speed between Qualifying and race day) at the last race in Valencia, and now limiting off throttle exhaust output to 10% of maximum in every instance.

The problem with this is it makes cars fall off the track and find walls and gravel pits when the difference between the downforce produced by the ginormous front wing and the teeney tiny back one unbalance the car in a turn.

Made worse by rain, which always seems to be a factor at Silverstone.  Both practices so far were in the wet and the forecast for Sunday is typically English- a pronounced sense of damp.  Hamilton is openly rooting for the race to take place at the bottom of the Channel, perhaps because he feels things can’t get much worse.

If today’s Qualifying takes place under dry we’ll get for the first time a sense of how badly the FIA has screwed up.  The agreement between the teams and the FIA expired long ago and the current extension is done next year.  Many people are unhappy and Barack Obama Bernie Ecclestone may be facing a revolt by his base.

There are other issues I’ll maybe get to tomorrow when I’m less pressed for time.  Surprising developments below.

On This Day In History July 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.

July 9 is the 190th day of the year (191st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 175 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1995, the Grateful Dead gave their last concert at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL.

For mishima

Ten Reasons why I Shall Vote Republican Next Time 20110709

This is a rare piece, juxtaposed betwixt my regular pieces.  OK, now I got your attention!  I am sorry for the subterfuge.  However, this is actually a more important piece that the title indicates.  Unless you fall into one of the ten categories, there is NO reason to vote for a Republican.

I usually do not use satire in my pieces, except for small snippets, but this idea sort of  screams hyperbole.  I hope that this makes people think.  If it does, I succeeded.  If not, I failed.  You tell me in the comments.

Popular Culture (Music) 20110708: The Who Live at Leeds Part 2 of 2

Last week we examined the original vinyl record of Live at Leeds.  Due to the technological limitations of vinyl, it was only about 45 minutes, give or take a couple, long.  The album was rereleased in 1995 on CD, and because that medium is capable of much more time, around two hours, many more tracks were added that had been recorded at the time.

Tonight we shall listen to those tracks and discuss whether or not we think that they are good.  I think that they are all no worse than very, very good and that many of them are outstanding.  Please listen and tell me what you think.  For those of you who have not signed up for an account, please do so so that you can comment in future.

Let us get started.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv