09/10/2011 archive

Random Japan



The former director of the US government’s Japan Affairs Office demanded that Kyodo News retract an article that quoted him as saying the Japanese are “masters of manipulation and extortion.”

The agriculture ministry said Japan will seek UNESCO World Heritage status for kaiseki cuisine.

The government is considering an across-the-board pay cut of 5-10 percent for nationally elected politicians. The scheme would net ¥290 billion, to be used for disaster relief.

Headline of the Week: “Mosses and Sea Slugs Offer Comfort in Difficult Times” (via The Asahi Shimbun)

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.

Stir-Fries With Fresh Vegetables


Stir-Fried Broccoli, Red pepper and Chicken

Over 50 percent of this colorful chicken stir-fry is composed of vegetables.

Spicy Stir-Fried Japanese Eggplant and Cucumber

Crunchy, water cucumber contrasts nicely with soft eggplant in this stir-fry.

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu With Corn, Green Beans and Cilantro

This stir-fry is a light meal, sweet and spicy.

Stir-Fried Brown Rice With Poblano Chiles and Edamame

The rich, nutty taste of brown rice adds a satisfying note to this dish.

Rainbow Peppers and Shrimp With Rice Noodles

For a vegetarian version of this dish, try it with tofu instead of shrimp.

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 Editorial: A New Start for Libya

After 42 years of erratic dictatorship, it would be unrealistic to expect a smooth transition in the early days of Libya’s post-Qaddafi era. There have been water and fuel shortages, episodes of vigilante justice, and power struggles among the victorious rebel forces. There are also signs of progress on military, diplomatic, economic and political fronts.

The last bastions of the regime are under assault, while Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi remains unaccounted for. Foreign governments have begun releasing billions of dollars of Libyan assets that were frozen during the fighting. Plans have been drafted for electing a constitutional assembly by early next year. Technicians are assessing damage to the oil wells and pipelines that account for 98 percent of the country’s annual revenues, though full production may not be restored for months or even longer. Considering the situation six months ago, there is reason to be encouraged.

Jon Walker: Obama is Coming to Cut Medicare

I don’t want to be entirely cynical about President Obama’s jobs speech yesterday. Some of the ideas in his proposal, like the money to fix up old schools, are great. He is finally at least putting his rhetorical focus on the issue the American people actually wanted him to be talking about this whole time. If the package Obama outlined last night was actually a compromise that Obama got the Republican Congressional leadership to agree to, I might even consider this fairly poorly designed plan a decent deal.

The problem, though, is that this jobs package isn’t going to pass, so this speech wasn’t about policy, it was about messaging. Seen from that perspective, the speech was very scary to me as a progressive, because in the middle of what should have been a speech about getting Americans back to work, Obama very publicly endorsed putting Medicare and Medicaid on the deficit-reduction chopping block. Most important, Obama signaled he supports reducing Medicare spending that “some in his party” won’t like.

Janine Jackson: Major Media: Whistling Past the Wreckage of Civil Liberties

Watchdogs slept through a decade of rollback

When the USA Patriot Act* was rushed into law after the September 11 attacks, the erosion of civil liberties the Act represented-the broad powers it gave law enforcement to spy on people, and the creation of the dangerously ill-defined crime of “domestic terrorism”-met with little detailed scrutiny or principled challenge from major media.

Typical at the time was a Today show segment (NBC, 10/27/01) in which anchor Soledad O’Brien grilled a concerned legal advocate, “But, certainly, isn’t there a sense in wartime that you have to give up some of your privacies, especially when you’re talking about terrorists who exploited the free-doms that America offers in order to perpetuate their terrorist acts?”

When provisions of the Patriot Act were extended in May 2011, most people didn’t hear even a lopsided debate. NBC Nightly News (5/27/11), for one, focused its report on the presidential autopen used to sign the legislation.

Joe Nocera: Mr. Banker, Can You Spare a Dime?

Not long ago, I received an e-mail from David Rynecki, an old friend and former colleague who left journalism a half-dozen years ago to become a small businessman. David’s firm, Blue Heron Research Partners, does research for investment professionals; he was writing to share his frustration in trying to build a business in the aftermath of the recession.


His problem was – and is – the same one facing millions of small businesspeople.  With lending standards extraordinarily tight in the wake of the financial crisis, banks simply aren’t making small business loans, not even to perfectly creditworthy people like David.  Which means he can’t expand – and hire – the way he would like to.  Yes, he said, he could continue to plow his cash flow into the business and grow it slowly.  But to get the firm to the next plateau, he needs a bank loan.

George Zornick: How To Really Win the Future

President Obama appeared before Congress on Thursday and urged members to pass the American Jobs Act, a $447 billion package that includes more unemployment benefits, an extended payroll tax cut, money for repairing schools and crumbling infrastructaure, rehiring teachers and first responders, job training for the long-term unemployed and tax breaks for companies that hire new workers.


But the American Jobs Act falls short in two paradoxical ways: the plan is still too ambitious for Congressional Republicans, and at the same time doesn’t go far enough. Despite Boehner’s kind words, it still probably won’t pass the Republican House of Representatives. And even if it did, many economists say it still wouldn’t be enough to spur a true economic recovery.

Katha Politt: The Poor: Still Here, Still Poor

What ever happened to poor people? Even on the left, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley’s Poverty Tour was an exception. Mostly, the talk is of the “middle class”-its stagnant wages, foreclosed houses, maxed-out credit cards and adult kids still living in their childhood bedrooms. The New York Times’s Bob Herbert, the last columnist who covered poverty consistently and with passion, is gone. Among progressive organizations, Rebuild the Dream, a new group co-founded with much fanfare by Van Jones and MoveOn, is typical. It bills its mission as “rebuilding the middle class”-i.e., the “people willing to work hard and play by the rules.” (What are those rules? I always wonder. And do middle-class people really work all that hard compared with a home health aide or a waitress, who cannot get ahead no matter how hard she works and how many rules she plays by?) The ten steps in its “Contract” contain many worthy suggestions-invest in America’s infrastructure, return to fairer tax rates, secure Social Security by lifting the cap on Social Security taxes. There’s nothing wrong with any of this as far as it goes-middle-class people have indeed suffered in the current recession. But let’s not forget that the unemployment rate for white college grads is 4 percent, and every single one of them has been written up in Salon. It’s who’s missing that troubles me: poor people.

Matthew Rothchild: Obama’s Speech Inspiring and Annoying

Whenever Barack Obama gets around to making an affirmative case for government action, he is at his most inspiring. So it was on Thursday night. He talked about this nation being made up not just of “rugged individuals” but of people who understand that “we are all connected.”

In an almost direct rebuttal to the libertarian nonsense that spilled forth from the Republican debate 24 hours earlier, Obama made the case for public goods. He talked about the value of public high schools, of our research universities, of our community colleges, of the GI Bill, and of Social Security and Medicare.

On This Day In History September 10

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.

September 10 is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 112 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day in 1776, Nathan Hale volunteers to spy behind British lines

On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.

the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City, via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death, and posed a great risk to Hale.

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous speech began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account

F1: Autodromo Nazionale Monza Qualifying

So what’s been happening these last two weeks?  I mean other than the commentators creaming their jeans over the new Senna and sucking up to Red Bull and Scuderia Marlboro and bad mouthing Hamilton and McLaren?

Not much, so this will be a short one.

Button is not moving to Marlboro Country.  Who wants a slower ride anyway?

India on October 30th may be canceled due to a tax dispute.  Seems India wants to collect taxes on 1/19th of team and driver yearly incomes.

Scuderia Marlboro is struggling in desperation, hyping the prospects of a 12 year old (A Twelve Year Old!) as a future driver, unable to master aerodynamics and whining for simpler and cheaper rules.

The rules committee will be enforcing a camber (tire slant) limit from Pirelli, but the Softs are still expected to wear quite quickly especially under full (heavy) fuel.

Why?  The Autodromo Nazionale is very straight and very fast which means that when you do have to slow down for corners you put a lot of stress on your brakes and tires.  The speed of the course also stresses engines (we had a Cosworth blow up in practice).  Teams will be running their lowest drag configurations and there are two, two, two Drag Reduction System zones.

This is supposed to make the teams more evenly matched.  I’ll believe it when I see it.

Surprises, not that I expect any, below.

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features

Featured Essays-


Popular Culture (Music): The Who, Quadrophenia Part II of II

We last discussed the first side of the seminal album, Quadrophenia, by The Who, entirely written by Peter Townshend.  Since that time I have done more extensive research, and found some interesting things that I hope will be illuminating for everyone.  They were for me.  Without too many details in the introduction, I can say with a good bit of confidence that this record almost dissolved the band.

Roger put Pete in hospital with punches, Kit was almost banned, and the fraud that the management was doing to the band was discovered.  That was part of the genesis for the song “How Many Friends Have I Really Got” that was part of The Who by Numbers some time later.  But there is more!

I have a frank correction to make, and then what is more like a clarification as to the original characters who were combined to make Jimmy.  I also have a stupid one to make, about the name of the album itself.  Shall we begin?

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Battle for Libya not over yet, NTC warns

By Dominique Soguel, AFP

8 hrs ago

Libya’s de facto premier Mahmud Jibril warned in his first address in Tripoli that the hardest battles still lay ahead as fighters loyal to the new rulers closed in on Moamer Kadhafi’s hometown Friday.

World police body Interpol called for the fugitive Kadhafi’s arrest for alleged crimes against humanity, following a request by the International Criminal Court.

“The battle of liberation is not finished,” Jibril said late Thursday after National Transitional Council troops inching towards Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli came under rocket fire from old regime loyalists inside the oasis town.