07/23/2011 archive

Random Japan



Sho Darvish, the younger brother of Nippon Ham Fighters ace Yu Darvish, was arrested twice in June-once for marijuana possession and again for assaulting a 19-year-old woman. So much for weed mellowing you out…

Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki saw his string of ten straight MLB All-Star Game appearances come to an end when he finished seventh in fan voting among American League outfielders. He still picked up over 2.5 million votes.

A renegade cat delayed a BayStars vs. Hiroshima Carp ballgame at Yokohama Stadium when it got on the field and had to be chased off by security.

Golfer Tiger Woods may have philandered away millions in endorsement contacts in the U.S. but he’s still big in Japan. Woods is the new face of Kowa, a Japanese muscle balm.

The heat is on once again and the Japan Football Association has decided to allow sports drinks, as well as your standard water, on the sidelines at soccer games to prevent heatstroke. Some stadiums, however, have a water-only policy in effect, worried that a little Pocari Sweat might kill the grass.

A 17-year-old boy scout with Japanese roots from Utah delivered soccer balls, uniforms and whistles to students affected by the March 11 earthquake/tsunami. Perhaps more suited to Sudan than Japan, but a good deed nonetheless.

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.

Chilled Summer Soups


Chilled Pea, Lettuce and Herb Soup

Tomato-Cucumber Soup With Basil

Chilled Yogurt Soup With Spinach and Chickpeas

Watermelon Gazpacho

Yogurt Soup With Spelt, Cucumbers and Watercress

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”.

New York Times: The Party That Can’t Say Yes

For days, the White House has infuriated its Democratic allies in Congress by offering House Republicans more and more in exchange for a deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent default. But it was never enough, and, on Friday evening, it became clear that it may never be enough. Speaker John Boehner again walked away from the “grand bargain” he had been negotiating with President Obama, leaving the country teetering on the brink of another economic collapse.

At the White House podium a few minutes later, the president radiated a righteous fury he rarely displays in public, finally placing the blame for this wholly unnecessary crisis squarely where it belongs: on Republicans who will do anything to upend his presidency and dismantle every social program they can find. “Can they say yes to anything?” he asked, noting the paradox of Republicans, who claim that financial responsibility and debt reduction are their biggest priorities, rejecting yet another deal that would have cut that debt by at least $3 trillion.

Robert Reich: Why Medicare Is the Solution – Not the Problem

Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.

But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs – if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Margaret Kimberley: Prison Slave Labor

Michelle Alexander’s ground breaking book, The New Jim Crow, is an outstanding expose of the horrors of America’s criminal justice system that are perpetrated against black people. It is well documented proof of what many have long observed, that get tough policies on drug enforcement and “three strikes” laws are targeted towards the masses of often non-violent black Americans and are used to make money for private entities and for all levels of government.

The penitentiary manufactured license plate was long ago joined by more sophisticated methods of exploitation. Prisoners not only work in a variety of jobs without compensation, but are often fined and forced to pay for their incarceration. Obviously they end their sentences owing money and are permanent debtors, susceptible to be consumed by the system again and again.

Jim Hightower: Massey Energy’s Man-Made Hell Hole

Republicans and a few coal-state Democrats have cynically blocked passage of tougher mine safety laws that would stop the murderous greed of coal profiteers.

West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine was a disaster even before it exploded into an underground inferno last year, killing 29 miners

A new investigative report by federal safety inspectors found that this mine – owned by the enormously profitable Massey Energy Corporation – was essentially a man-made hellhole. Top executives intentionally hid dangerous safety problems from regulators, failed to maintain (and sometimes actually disabled) safety systems, and aggressively pushed a mining ethic of profit over safety, intimidating and firing those who complained about hazards.

Mark Weisbrot: Despite Rightwing Myths, US Health Care Problems Rooted in Private Sector

A recent report by McKinsey and Company was seized upon by opponents of health care reform to create a new myth: that President Obama’s health insurance reform (the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — PPACA) will cause huge numbers of employers to drop health insurance coverage that they currently provide for employees.

The McKinsey study was soon shown to be worthless, and McKinsey itself acknowledged that it “was not intended as predictive economic analysis.” But the myth seems to not be completely dead yet. For a more reasonable estimate of the impact of the health insurance reform, we can look to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. They estimated that the number of people (including family members) covered by employment-based insurance would be about 1.8 percent fewer in 2019, as a result of the PPACA legislation. Of course, this is more than counter-balanced by the fact that the percentage of the (non-elderly) population with insurance would increase from 82 to 92 percent – the main purpose of the reform.

John Nichols: Unions, MoveOn Warn Obama Not to ‘Cave’ in Secret Negotiations With House GOP

The Obama White House is reportedly in the process of negotiating a secret debt deal with House Republican leaders that could include deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The deal would not, according to media reports, significantly or immediately address the need for new revenues that can be derived from fair taxation of the wealthiest Americans.

That’s a bad deal.

Bad for American seniors and Americans who anticipate that one day they will be seniors.

Bad for the American economy.

And bad for Barack Obama politically.

So unions and progressive groups have moved to prevent any deal from moving forward.

MoveOn.org, AFL-CIO, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, PCCC, AFT, Campaign for America’s Future and Change Nation organized an Emergency Call-In Day “to demand Democrats in the House and Senate stand strong and keep their promises to reject any debt deal that slashes programs for seniors and working families while doing little or nothing to make the rich and corporations pay their share.”

F1: Nurburgring Qualifying

No use complaining, but sometimes the sport reporting gig gets tough.  I’ll just summon up my inner Armstrong and Barrichello and keep racing.  Since I’ve started off meta I’ll continue with this link-

Tomorrow’s broadcast will be tape delayed on Fox at noon and I won’t be able to do those fancy lap position things because I get them from the Speed Racecast which since it’s live will be good only for spoilers.  Fortunately all the rest of the coverage will be exclusively live on Speed (thank you sir may I have another?) starting with the Hungaroring next week (what did I say about rest?).

Can you get more meta than that?

Oh my yes.  You remember Silverstone don’t you?

Things are not happy in the Formula One Teams Association, there’s also the fact the Concorde Agreement has expired and is extended only through a letter, not a contract, through 2012 following a heated dispute that led many teams to threaten to go CART.  While nominally guided by Martin Whitmarsh of McLaren and Ross Brawn of Mercedes the FOTA is widely viewed as a tool of Bernie Ecclestone who has a distinct conflict of interest and a hazy history of influence on the FIA itself with his cozy relationship to Max Mosley the fifth columnist Nazi’s son who got the boot for his sexcapades.

Interestingly enough this was the scoop of the recently deceased and unlamented News of the World who published sick Nazi Sex Orgy by Neville Thurlbeck so who knows what to think?

Well, Neville’s in trouble again-

Rupertgate Friday – “For Neville”

By Gordonskene, Crooks&Liars

July 22, 2011 03:58 PM

As was reported yesterday, there are now growing questions over the honesty of the testimony given by James Murdoch during the Inquiry hearings on Tuesday. One centers around Neville Thurlbeck, who was a registered unpaid Police informant and has been a key suspect in the phone hacking scandal and an e-mail and attached file that carefully listed transcribed hacked messages.

Murdoch denies any knowledge of the e-mail, however former NoTW editor Colin Myler and former head of legal affairs for News Of The World Tom Crone claim the younger Murdoch had full knowledge of the “For Neville” e-mail and file and has been lying to the Commission. If this winds up being true, and Murdoch is found to be lying, it tosses an enormous question mark over the entire testimony on Tuesday and puts James Murdoch in the position of being arrested and held for further questioning.

Oh, you want racing news.

Regarding the Scuderia Marlboro UPC hissy fit

Engine Mapping (changing the engine management software) between Qualifying and Race is out.  Off Throttle Blown Diffusers are in.

Renault has never found another taker for their forward blown diffuser project and is running an experimental setup developed during the confusion on one of it’s cars.  Both McLaren’s are running on new configurations, no doubt in part to a strategic decision by management to prepare for 2012.  In fact their problems are in the Pits and always have been.  Lost wheelnut!  Throttling back because you bet on wet in your fuel setup!?  Maranello seems to have finally figured it out to an extent and is betting on a late season charge for 2nd because Red Bull continues to dominate.

Mercedes seems to have a car at last while Renault is floundering so there’s kind of a race for 4th and 5th and then there are the remaining teams who will never ever be competitive unless they’re permitted and can afford to track test more.  I refuse to believe sponsor money is the problem.

As usual, surprising developments below.

On This Day In History July 23

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 23 is the 204th day of the year (205th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 161 days remaining until the end of the year.

THE GREAT COMET OF 1997. Above, the bright head of comet Hale-Bopp, called the coma, is pointed towards the Sun. The coma is composed of dust and gas, masking the solid nucleus of the comet made up of rock, dust and ice. Photo taken by Jim Young at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories Table Mountain Observatory in March 1997.

The comet was discovered in 1995 by two independent observers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, both in the United States. Hale had spent many hundreds of hours searching for comets without success, and was tracking known comets from his driveway in New Mexico when he chanced upon Hale-Bopp just after midnight. The comet had an apparent magnitude of 10.5 and lay near the globular cluster M70 in the constellation of Sagittarius. Hale first established that there was no other deep-sky object  near M70, and then consulted a directory of known comets, finding that none were known to be in this area of the sky. Once he had established that the object was moving relative to the background stars, he emailed the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the clearing house for astronomical discoveries.

Bopp did not own a telescope. He was out with friends near Stanfield, Arizona observing star clusters and galaxies when he chanced across the comet while at the eyepiece of his friend’s telescope. He realized he might have spotted something new when, like Hale, he checked his star maps to determine if any other deep-sky objects were known to be near M70, and found that there were none. He alerted the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams through a Western Union telegram. Brian Marsden, who has run the bureau since 1968, laughed, “Nobody sends telegrams anymore. I mean, by the time that telegram got here, Alan Hale had already e-mailed us three times with updated coordinates.”

The following morning, it was confirmed that this was a new comet, and it was named Comet Hale-Bopp, with the designation C/1995 O1. The discovery was announced in International Astronomical Union circular 6187.

Le Tour- Stage 20

Grenoble to Grenoble 27 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

So what happened yesterday?  It became a 3 person race.

Contador attacked the moment they started going up hill and for the first two climbs seemed well on his way to duplicating Andy Schleck’s surprise performance on Thursday.  However on the long descent from the Col du Galabier all the prime contenders caught up and it was basically a sprint up the Alpe-d’Huez.

It’s not that Contador finished badly (in 3rd, only 23 Seconds off) it’s that he needed a spectacular one and didn’t get it with Evans and the Schlecks just 34 Seconds behind.  The person hurt worst was Voeckler, 3+ Minutes behind, losing the lead he had kept against all expectations for 10 days equaling his 2004 performance.

But there are only 2 Stages left, today’s Individual Time Trial and the Sprint and parade up the Champs Elysees

Rank Name Team ET delta
1 Andy Schleck Leopard Trek 82h 48′ 43″
2 Frank Schleck Leopard Trek 82h 49′ 36″ + 00′ 53″
3 Cadel Evans BMC 82h 49′ 40″ + 00′ 57″
4 Thomas Voekler Europcar 82h 50′ 53″ + 02′ 10″
5 Damiano Cunego Lampre 82h 52′ 14″ + 03′ 31″
6 Alberto Contador Saxo Bank 82h 52′ 38″ + 03′ 55″
7 Samuel Sanchez Euskaltel 82h 53′ 05″ + 04′ 22″
8 Ivan Basso Cannondale 82h 53′ 23″ + 04′ 40″
9 Tom Danielson Garmin 82h 55′ 54″ + 07′ 11″
10 Rolland Pierre Europcar 82h 57′ 40″ + 08′ 57″

Is it all over but the shouting?  Yes and no.  Being extremely generous as many as 6 riders still have a shot at the malliot jaune, but the farther down the list you go the more riders have to choke to put you at the top no matter how spectacular a Time Trialist you are.

On the outside fringe of realism is France’s hope Voeckler in fourth, but he has to make up over 2 Minutes.  This is actually a 3 person race now, Cadel Evans and the Schleck brothers are under 60 Seconds apart.  The rap on the Schlecks is that they’re terrible trialers, but last year Andy went head to head against Contador who’s reputed to be one of the best.  Evans has his work cut out for him especially since he’ll be starting ahead and the Schlecks will know exactly what time they have to beat.

In the Individual Time Trials what happens is the riders go off individually at intervals in reverse order of standing so that the last placed of the 167 riders remaining starts first.  There is overtaking, but no help from your team.  As flat as this stage is the 2 bumps are thought to favor the Schlecks.

King of the Mountains (Polka Dot Jersey) is Samuel Sanchez.  There are no more Mountains.  Garmin is almost certain to be top Team with a 12 Minute advantage over Leopard Trek.  The White Jersey (Youth) could be won by Pierre Rolland (boosted by Friday’s Stage victory at the Alpe-d’Huez) or Rein Taaramae 1:33 behind.

Sprinting is complicated, I’ll let BruceMcF explain it

Nobody expects Mark (Cavendish) to lose the Green Jersey with 15 points ahead of JJ Rojas, who is not expected to be within three or four places of Mark on the line on Sunday.

However, the Champs Elysee is the last Flat Sprinty Sprint Sprint stage, with the famous bunch sprint still ahead to decide the most prestigious of the stage winners. Though Tyler Farrar and Andre Griepel long ago gave up hopes of the Green (Jersey), they will both be looking for the stage winner of the last day.

The Mad Manx once again finished behind the elimination time of 25 Minutes, but once again so did 83 others (this time including his closest rival JJ Rojas) and once again Tour organizers evoked the escape clause (Santity Clause?  You-a doan fool-a me.  There ain’t no Sanity Clause) and invoked a 20 point penalty rather than drop half the field.  An interesting intellectual exercise would be to figure out the Sprint winner had the rule been enforced (hint- Cadel Evans).

Anyway the penultimate coverage starts on Vs. at 8 am conflicting with Nurburgring Qualifying on Speed.  Tomorrow I’ll be able to pay exclusive attention to the Champs Elysee stroll also on Vs. at 8 am since the tape delayed Formula One will be on Fox at noon.

Popular Culture 20110722 (Leisure): The Cruise from Hell

This is a bit of a departure in that I almost always write about things that have occurred in the past.  Tonight is is about something that is scheduled to happen in future.  I do not know about all of your tastes, but a cruise does not ring my bell as the ideal vacation for several reasons.

First, I like to make my own decisions.  That is why road trips are good.  You can go wherever you want, for good or ill, but the choice is yours.  The driver(s) control the destination.  On a cruise, that is not possible unless disaster strikes.

Second, with a self directed trip, one can choose his or her companions.  That is not possible on a cruise.  One never knows who will be in the next cabin.

Third, if one is driving, one can just stop and reconsider what is going on, and if one is not enjoying the trip, can turn around and just go home.  That is not possible on a sea cruise, unless one becomes violently ill (and that happens more often that the corporations that arrange them would like people to know).

With no more ado, here is my nightmare of a cruise from Hell.  The thing is just this:  I did not make it up from whole cloth.  It is being advertised on the Fox “News” Channel!  Here we go!

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