09/24/2011 archive

Random Japan



At a ceremony in Boston, the president of the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette. The honor was in recognition of the man’s efforts to promote “friendly Japan-US relations by raising awareness of the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth,” whatever that is.

Reassuring absolutely no one, newly installed Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa labeled himself an “amateur” when it comes to national security issues.

Meanwhile, the new justice minister “expressed reluctance” about enforcing the death penalty.

An advisory council reporting to the culture minister recommended that Japan nominate Mt Fuji and the city of Kamakura as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

One year after the Akatsuki planetary probe failed in its attempt to enter the orbit of Venus, JAXA says the spacecraft may be capable of making another try in 2015.

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.

Fall Cooking With Greens


We may be seeing the first burnt-orange and fiery reds of fall foliage, but farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture baskets are still laden with deep greens like Swiss chard, broccoli rabe and bok choy. If your produce basket is overflowing, here are five new recipes from Martha Rose Shulman that will get you cooking with greens.

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Red Pepper

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is the centerpiece of this classic pasta dish from Apulia, the region of Italy that makes up the heel of the country’s boot shape.

Stewed Greens With Tomatoes and Mint

This recipe is inspired by a Greek dish from the island of Corfu, from Diane Kochilas’s book “The Greek Vegetarian.”

Valencian Chickpea and Chard Soup

A delicious soup adapted from a recipe in “A Mediterranean Harvest,” by Jon Cohen and Paola Scaravelli.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy or Sturdy Greens

This recipe works equally well with bok choy or sturdy greens, both of which have tough ribs and leaves that have a cruciferous flavor.

Macaroni With Tomato Sauce, Chard and Goat Cheese

This tomatoey version of macaroni and cheese is a great way to use greens or other vegetables.

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”.

Katrina vanden Heuvel and Robert Borosage: Can a Movement Save the American Dream?

On October 3 activists from across the country will gather in Washington at the Take Back the American Dream conference, in the belief that only a citizens movement can save an American dream that grows ever more distant. In the face of a failed economy and a corrupted politics, the only hope for renewal is that citizens lead and politicians follow.

The modern American dream was inspired by a growing middle class that was the triumph of democracy after World War II. Its promise was and is opportunity: that hard work can earn a good life-a good job with decent pay and security, a home in a safe neighborhood, affordable healthcare, a secure retirement, a good education for the kids. The promise always exceeded the performance-especially with regard to racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and women-and America never did as well as Europe in lifting the poor from misery. But a broad middle class and a broadly shared prosperity at least provided the possibility of a way up.

George Monbiot: A Billionaires’ Coup in the US

The debt deal will hurt the poorest Americans, convinced by Fox and the Tea Party to act against their own welfare

There are two ways of cutting a deficit: raising taxes or reducing spending. Raising taxes means taking money from the rich. Cutting spending means taking money from the poor. Not in all cases of course: some taxation is regressive; some state spending takes money from ordinary citizens and gives it to banks, arms companies, oil barons and farmers. But in most cases the state transfers wealth from rich to poor, while tax cuts shift it from poor to rich.

So the rich, in a nominal democracy, have a struggle on their hands. Somehow they must persuade the other 99% to vote against their own interests: to shrink the state, supporting spending cuts rather than tax rises. In the US they appear to be succeeding.

Matthew Rothschild: Citizens Rise Up Against “Citizens United”

I was speaking in Milwaukee the other night to a great group of peace activists, and in the question and answer period, we started talking about what could be done to change our foreign policy and bring about peace and social justice.

One thing I said we needed to do was to amend the Constitution to overturn the horrible Citizens United decision of 2010 that said corporations are persons, and corporations can spend unlimited funds to influence the outcome of an election.

I said we have no chance of having democracy in America so long as that decision stands, so I urged people to pass a resolution in their city or county to do just that, kind of like what we did during the Nuclear Freeze movement.

Little did I know that there were people in the audience who were already on the job. They’re trying to pass just such an initiative in West Allis, Wisconsin.

George Zornick: The Funding Standoff and the GOP’s Refusal to Learn From Hurricane Katrina

Sometime next week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will officially run out of money if Congress doesn’t act. Unprecedented demands and gamesmanship by Republicans in the House of Representatives are threatening a funding bill for the agency, along with disaster relief for Americans affected by the recent hurricanes. Watching the spectacle unfold, it’s impossible not to marvel at short Republican memories-it wasn’t that long ago that playing politics with FEMA proved disastrous for the GOP.

By many accounts, the federal government’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans was a turning point in George W. Bush’s presidency. His administration was shown to be incapable of even basic functions of government-helping desperate citizens in desperate need following a natural disaster. After they left the White House, several Bush aides acknowledged that this was the moment that the Bush presidency was irredeemably lost

Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick: Bullying as True Drama

THE suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, the 14-year-old boy from western New York who killed himself last Sunday after being tormented by his classmates for being gay, is appalling. His story is a classic case of bullying: he was aggressively and repeatedly victimized. Horrific episodes like this have sparked conversations about cyberbullying and created immense pressure on regulators and educators to do something, anything, to make it stop. Yet in the rush to find a solution, adults are failing to recognize how their conversations about bullying are often misaligned with youth narratives. Adults need to start paying attention to the language of youth if they want antibullying interventions to succeed.

Jamey recognized that he was being bullied and asked explicitly for help, but this is not always the case. Many teenagers who are bullied can’t emotionally afford to identify as victims, and young people who bully others rarely see themselves as perpetrators. For a teenager to recognize herself or himself in the adult language of bullying carries social and psychological costs. It requires acknowledging oneself as either powerless or abusive.

Dana Goldstein: The Future of No Child Left Behind

This morning President Obama will announce that due to the intransigence of Congress, the administration is moving forward unilaterally to reform No Child Left Behind. In what is being referred to as the “waiver process,” the Department of Education will offer states the opportunity to ignore some of the law’s most absurd dictates-for example, that every single student be “proficient” in math and reading by 2014, regardless of whether a child is disabled or fluent in English-in exchange for embracing a narrower reform agenda.

The administration’s preferred reform strategies are no surprise, since they were also part of the earlier Race to the Top and School Improvement Grant programs. They include asking states to embrace the new Common Core curriculum standards in high school math and English; using student performance data-often standardized test scores-to evaluate teachers and principals; and overhauling underperforming schools by replacing the principal or significant portions of the teaching force. States will also have the option of closing schools down entirely and “restarting” them under different management, sometimes a charter school operator.

F1: Singapore Qualifying

So I was watching a digest of the America’s Cup Preliminary series and if you think you can’t have crashes on water you’ve never seen catamarans dump after being rammed from behind.

Flaming chunks of twisted metal.

The problem with unlimited formula racing of some duration is that at a certain point dominant teams tend to… well, dominate and chances for an upset are vanishingly small.  The press part of the Sporting Press is overwhelmed by stories of how Vettel can clinch in Singapore this weekend, but the truth is it’s highly unlikely since even with a victory a top 3 finish by Alonso (who’s had good results at the track) will push the day of reckoning off until Suzuka.

Still you have to have something to write about and the other story line is silly season driver seat speculation with an emphasis on the backlog depth at Renault and Red Bull.  Those of you rooting for Kubica’s return are likely to be disappointed since his rehabilitation is incomplete.

Singapore is a street course run at night entirely under the lights.  It is hot, humid, and long with practically no straight sections to the point that they had some problem finding a suitable place to engage the DRS and you hear disparaging comparisons to Monaco.  It’s also known for parking cars with 5 Safeties in just 3 years.

Exacerbating that problem this year is that they’re having some difficulty keeping the racing curbs down.  These are slightly raised sections designed to keep the cars on the racing line and out of the barriers.  For drivers they’re like rumble strips and they regularly run their wheels over them which is a problem when the sharp, pointy anchor bolts work loose and they start working like tire shredders.

They took 30 minutes off the initial Practice for emergency repairs and were going to be doing some more work before qualifying so this will hopefully be a non-issue except for the time lost refining racing setups.

The tires for this race will be the Softs and Super Softs.  The Super Softs are from 1.5 to 2.5 seconds faster per lap and lose 6 seconds on full fuel.  Both McLarens had some trouble in practice with Button parking 50 minutes early and Hamilton damaging his under car diffuser on the curbing.

Surprises (if any) below.

On This Day In History September 24

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.

On this day on 1789, The Judiciary Act of 1789 is passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington, establishing the Supreme Court of the United States as a tribunal made up of six justices who were to serve on the court until death or retirement. That day, President Washington nominated John Jay to preside as chief justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson to be associate justices. On September 26, all six appointments were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Supreme Court was established by Article 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution granted the Supreme Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws, especially those in which their constitutionality was at issue. The high court was also designated to oversee cases concerning treaties of the United States, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice, and maritime jurisdiction. On February 1, 1790, the first session of the U.S. Supreme Court was held in New York City’s Royal Exchange Building.

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Popular Culture (Illness) 20110923: Remedies for the Common Cold

First, please join with me in wishing Youngest Son a very happy 22nd birthday!

Now to the topic at hand, which is timely for me since it seems that I am getting one.  I had a scratchy throat at bedtime last night, but with the change in the weather here in the Bluegrass beginning yesterday, I just sort of did not pay attention to it. When I awakened this morning, it was a different story.

I had fever.  I am extremely sensitive to changes in body temperature, because my normal is around 97.7 degrees.  Thus, when I hit 99, I am SICK!  I also had the scratchy eyes and the runny nose.  As the day wore on, and I did not get better, I decided it was time to act.  I took aspirin for the fever, a gram of ascorbic acid and 50 mg of zinc to boost my immune system.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 41 stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 G20 assurances fail to convince markets

By Paul Handley, AFP

4 hrs ago

Assurances by the world’s leading powers that they are moving to stabilize the global economy failed to convince Friday, as markets sank again in impatience for more convincing action.

A surprise late-night communique from Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers Thursday recognized the sense of urgency, after a day of intense warnings from leaders around the world, including a number of the elite group’s own members.

But it failed to quell worries that the stumbling US economy and the European debt crisis would return the advanced economies to recession and drag down economic growth around the world.