07/16/2011 archive

Random Japan



A communications ministry survey revealed that, for the first time in 29 years, the number of landline phone subscriptions fell below 40 million.

At the same time, the “penetration rate” of mobile phones in Japan has reached 96.8 percent.

It was reported that the communications ministry has set up 160 temporary call centers in 44 prefectures around the country to help people deal with the changeover from analog to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting, scheduled for July 24.

Meanwhile, sales of flat-panel TVs are skyrocketing ahead of the changeover. Stores are reporting sales 250 percent higher than a year ago.

Other hot items this summer include electric fans, whose sales have jumped 4.5-fold compared to last year.

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.

A Short Season for Cherries


The season for freshly picked cherries is short, usually no longer than a month. And in most parts of the country, that month is July.

Like other dark red, blue and purple fruits and vegetables, cherries contain anthocyanins, phytonutrients that some experts believe may help reduce inflammation and may have antioxidant properties.

Because cherries are ripe when they’re picked, this is one fruit that will be sweet and juicy whether you buy it at a supermarket or a farmers’ market.

Cherry Clafouti

This classic French dessert looks fancy, but it is a cinch to make.

Morning Oatmeal With Cherries and Pistachios

Steep steel-cut oats the night before in boiling water for a quick breakfast treat.

Cherry Almond Smoothie

This dairy-free smoothie serves well at breakfast or as an afternoon snack.

Cold Cherry Soup

Many versions of cold cherry soup originated in Hungary and Poland; this lighter version is made with drained yogurt instead of cream.

Cherry Cobbler With Almond-Buttermilk Topping

Cornmeal contributes texture, and almond and whole-wheat flours add nuttiness. For a gluten-free version, substitute almond meal or rice flour for the whole-wheat flour.

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: The Rise of the Wrecking-Ball Right

Recently I debated a conservative Republican who insisted the best way to revive the American economy was to shrink the size of government. When I asked him to explain his logic he said, simply, “government is the source of all our problems.” When I noted government spending had brought the economy out of the previous eight economic downturns, including the Great Depression, he disagreed. “The Depression ended because of World War Two,” he pronounced, as if government had played no part in it.

A few days later I was confronted by another conservative Republican who blamed the nation’s high unemployment rate on the availability of unemployment benefits. “If you pay someone not to work, they won’t,” he said. When I pointed out unemployment benefits couldn’t possibly be the cause of joblessness because there are now about five job seekers for every job opening, he scoffed. “Government always makes things worse.”

Government-haters seem to be everywhere.

Congressional Republicans, now led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, hate government so much they’re ready to sacrifice the full faith and credit of the United States in order to shrink it.

Fred Branfman: If McCain Had Won

Democrats were united on one issue in the 2008 presidential election: the absolute disaster that a John McCain victory would have produced. And they were right. McCain as president would clearly have produced a long string of catastrophes: He would probably have approved a failed troop surge in Afghanistan, engaged in worldwide extrajudicial assassination and kidnapping, destabilized nuclear-armed Pakistan, failed to bring Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to the negotiating table, expanded prosecution of whistle-blowers, sought to expand executive branch power, failed to close Guantanamo, failed to act on climate change, pushed both nuclear energy and a “nuclear weapons renaissance,” opened new areas to domestic oil drilling, failed to reform the financial sector enough to prevent another financial catastrophe, supported an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, ignored the poor, and failed to lower the jobless rate.

Nothing reveals the true state of American politics today more, however, than the fact that Democratic President Barack Obama has undertaken all of these actions and, even more significantly, left the Democratic Party far weaker than it would have been had McCain been elected. Few issues are more important than seeing behind the screen of a myth-making mass media, and understanding what this demonstrates about how power in America really works-and what needs to be done to change it.

Joe Nocera: The Journal Becomes Fox-ified

It’s official. The Wall Street Journal has been Fox-ified.

It took Rupert Murdoch only three and a half years to get there, starting with the moment he acquired the paper from the dysfunctional Bancroft family in December 2007, a purchase that was completed after he vowed to protect The Journal’s editorial integrity and agreed to a (toothless) board that was supposed to make sure he kept that promise.

Fat chance of that. Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former boss of the division that published Murdoch’s British newspapers, including The News of the World. (He resigned on Friday.) Soon came the changes, swift and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.

New York Times Editorial: Blundering Toward Recession: Beyond the Debt Stalemate

“Catastrophic.” “Calamitous.” “Major crisis.” “Self-inflicted wound.” Those are some of the ways Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has described the fallout if Congress fails to raise the debt limit by the Aug. 2 deadline.

In Congressional testimony this week, Mr. Bernanke also warned that the Fed would not be able to fully counter the damage from a default, including the possibility that spiking interest rates would roil borrowers worldwide and worsen the federal budget deficit by making it costlier to finance the nation’s debt.

That’s not all of it. Brinkmanship over the debt limit is only one of many epic economic policy blunders now in the making. Even if lawmakers raise the debt limit on time, the economy is weak and getting weaker, as evidenced by slowing growth and rising unemployment.

Dennis Kucinich: Debt Political Theater Diverts Attention While Americans’ Wealth Is Stolen

The rancorous debate over the debt belies a fundamental truth of our economy — that it is run for the few at the expense of the many, that our entire government has been turned into a machine which takes the wealth of a mass of Americans and accelerates it into the hands of the few. Let me give you some examples.

Take war. War takes the money from the American people and puts it into the hands of arms manufacturers, war profiteers, and private armies. The war in Iraq, based on lies: $3 trillion will be the cost of that war. The war in Afghanistan; based on a misreading of history; half a trillion dollars in expenses already. The war against Libya will be $1 billion by September.

Fifty percent of our discretionary spending goes for the Pentagon. A massive transfer of wealth into the hands of a few while the American people lack sufficient jobs, health care, housing, retirement security.

David Sirota: Toward a New Politics of Food

The easiest way to explain Gallup’s discovery that millions of Americans are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than they ate last year is to simply crack a snarky joke about Whole Foods really being “Whole Paycheck.” Rooted in the old limousine liberal iconography, the quip conjures the notion that only Birkenstock-wearing trust-funders can afford to eat right in tough times.

It seems a tidy explanation for a disturbing trend, implying that healthy food is inherently more expensive, and thus can only be for wealthy Endive Elitists when the economy falters. But if the talking point’s carefully crafted mix of faux populism and oversimplification seems a bit facile-if the glib explanation seems almost too perfectly sculpted for your local right-wing radio blowhard-that’s because it dishonestly omits the most important part of the story. The part about how healthy food could easily be more affordable for everyone right now, if not for those ultimate elitists: agribusiness CEOs, their lobbyists and the politicians they own.

Le Tour- Stage 14

Saint-Gaudens to Plateau de Beille 105 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Our last day in the Pyrenees and the last chance for some riders to make a statement.

Not that I’m expecting for Contador to pack it in, just that there are those who will look ahead to the Alps and decide to spare themselves.  We had 4 withdrawals yesterday including Kloden of Radio Shack.

Speaking of surprises, I’m not sure who would have predicted a Hushovd Stage win and Gilbert finished unexpectedly high.  There was a huge group of 54 that tied for twelfth with another 30 riders 15 Seconds behind so you might argue the deltas don’t make a difference.

Today’s Stage is all up and down with a category 3, two category 2s, two category 1s and we finish on an unclassified (though the last 100 yards is pretty flat).

After this we have a flat day (last one except the Champs Elysees finish) and then there is no rest for the wicked though there is for the riders before we attack the Alps and finish with the Individual Time Trial and parade.

Too early coverage on Vs. starts at 6:30 am.

On This Day In History July 16

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

July 16 is the 197th day of the year (198th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 168 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.


If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Bhagavad Gita

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass-a nuclear explosion-and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Evil or Ignorant?

HarlequinNarrowIt hardly matters at this point.  Barack Obama has said in so many words that he’s perfectly willing to let the U.S. Government default on our National Debt unless he gets cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Even after the Republicans have capitulated on these issues.

It is no wonder that he loses to ‘generic Republican’ by 8 points.  People who claim to believe in ‘Electoral Victory’ are lying to you.

Obama is ensuring he is a one term failure by rushing to enact his Republican agenda with the complicity of corporatists who wear a D only because it’s convenient.  His highly paid and constantly wrong (2010) consultants contend ‘not as scary as that guy over there’, combined with ‘I’m a blind partisan’ will defeat the truth of ‘I don’t care about you’.

Barack Obama doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you and by the way clap harder for the Confidence Fairy, Invisible Bond Vigilantes, and Tinkerbell, otherwise you’ll die.

And so that’s where I’d have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.

If you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order, so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn’t just throw up their hands and say, “Ah, more big spending, more government.”

It would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order. And so now the question is what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs, and what aspects of what government is doing are a waste and we should eliminate. And that’s the kind of debate that I’d like to have.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what his motivations are since his policy doesn’t make any kind of sense at all, even for rich people.  When ‘The Great Hair Cut’ takes place it will be all about deleveraging that $600 Trillion of Derivative Notional Value in the Shadow Markets.

Why?  Because there’s no place else to get the ‘money’.  It’s at least 10 times the ‘book value’ of all the World’s goods and services annually.  So while the slave owner may starve and whip his chattel, and force them to sleep naked in the cold, there is only so much blood in the turnip.

Bootlickers think they will somehow survive I suppose, who can have enough jesters and toadies?  Having been Capo di Tutti I’ll tell you they’re the first on the list.  They’ll continue to suck up anyway seeking to worm their way back into favor (see Pavlov).

Frankly it’s co-dependent behavior.  I’ve seen enough abusive relationships to know and I have an opinion- toleration is complicity.

How then to have an impact?

I call you to a life of resistance in the small and easily done things.  Move your money.  Use cash when you can.  Turn off your lights when you leave the room and properly inflate your tires.

I don’t think any amount of complaints will convince the Tsar he has bad councilors, but it’s certainly a minimum.  I do think that only votes get counted and I encourage you to do so early and often.  The thing about shunning is that it’s critically important that it be public and express the clear disapproval of the community.

Their guilty souls can’t stand that, witness the howls of outrage.

Obama Wants DADT Reinstated (Up Dated)

The Department of Justice has filed a brief in the 9th Circuit Court to reinstate DADT that was ordered immediately stopped by the court. The brief cited “real and immediate harm.” Now remember, the DOJ has decided not to enforce the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) or to defend it from being overturned as it winds its way through the courts. Knowing that, I would not want to be the US Attorney trying to explain the rational for this request to the judges of the 9th Circuit.

David Dayen at FDL sheds some light on this seemingly paradoxical pursuit:

The meat of the DoJ order is right here:

   In sum, the government argues that lifting the stay unjustifiably takes the authority for repealing DADT away from the executive branch and it does so, at least in part, because of confusion by the Ninth Circuit panel regarding the DOJ’s view of whether DADT is constitutional after the passage of the repeal act and regarding the application of the DOJ’s DOMA decisions to military laws like DADT.

The executive branch wants to defend its policy work and doesn’t want the court bigfooting around finding its laws unconstitutional. Unless we’re talking about DOMA, where that’s precisely what DoJ has requested.

It looks like a question of who gets the power to overturn DADT. The President wants his signing ceremony.

The court is confused? Well, they’re not alone and that twisted argument made my back hurt. The reality is that this is all about the president’s ego and reelection and those pesky gays should be grateful.

Up Date: From John Aravosis at AMERICAblog Gay

9th Circuit again tells Obama administration to stop discharging gays

Oral arguments are set for September 1st in Pasadena, CA.

Popular Culture (Personalities) 20110715: Don Rickles

Donald Jay “Don” Rickles (I like it that he uses his own name, and I would here but would have to give up my low UID to do so) is unique.  I am actually not that fond of him, but he is an American icon.  Born 19260508, he is now 85 years old, and going strong!  That is quite an accomplishment just by itself!

His trademark is really being a jerk.  I am a jerk unintentionally from time to time, and when I am a jerk, the results are usually not very good.  He does it intentionally, and that seems to work for him.

I was going to write this piece about a completely different subject, but had what I call the Jay Leno TeeVee Show on for background noise, and Rickles was one of the guests.  I thought that he was dead, but I guess that I had him confused with Rodney Dangerfield.

This Week In The Midsummer’s Night Dream Antilles

Oh goodness.  It’s Friday.  Again.  And your Boguero finds himself trying to readjust to the continental United States.  That is a difficult task.  A week ago your Bloguero was in gorgeous Bahia Soliman, just north of Tulum in Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Now he finds himself (forget whether it is reluctantly) in Upstate New York.  And, oh my goodness, it’s time for the weekly Digest.  Ready or not.  Your Bloguero is in the “not”.

Your Bloguero cannot do it.  You will, he hopes, pardon his lack of enthusiasm for the assigned (by himself) task, but if you want to know what was in The Dream Antilles this past week just follow the link and, lo and behold, you will see what there is to see.  If anything.  Please just click and look.  Your Bloguero cannot lay it out for you.  He is too lazy.  And apathetic.  And possibly alienated.  He has been rendered slothful and nearly comatose by PBR and the recognition that he will not return to Mexico until the Fall.  Until Octubre.  That is too long.  Too far away.  Too remote.  That means he is stuck here in the US until.  Oh nevermind.

Meanwhile, your Bloguero is focused on Prospero’s speech in the Tempest:

Our revels now are ended.  These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirit, and

Are melted into thin air:

And like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp’ tow’rs. the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind.

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

Yes.  Such stuff as dream are made on.  That ‘s you.  That’s your Bloguero.  Where are our dreams?  What are we dreaming?  What is our yearning?  What do we want?  Enough of practicality.  Enough of the limiting beliefs about what one can and what one cannot do. Enough of excuses.  Forget all of that.  Please.  The question on the floor is this: What are our dreams?

Your Bloguero is with Satchel Paige on this.  “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”  Let’s get going ahead, on the dreams.  Let’s find out what they are.  Let’s pursue them.  The rest seems irrelevant.  And depressing.  Let’s go for the dreams!

(Note to Readers: If you want quicker notification of new essays published at The Dream Antilles than this weekly digest, just scroll down the right margin of The Dream Antilles.  There you will find the “Networked Blogs” logo.  Click “Follow this Blog” and, presto chango, you will begin to receive notifications of new essays as soon as they are posted.)  

This Week In The Dream Antilles is a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is not a digest of essays posted in the past week. Your Bloguero always solicits your support. No, not your money. Just leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Humor him.  Or, even easier, just click the “Encouragement jar”.  Your Bloguero likes to know that you’re there.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

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

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