10/22/2011 archive

Random Japan



The first snowfall of the season was recorded on October 3 in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. It had been 113 years since snow fell so early in the year in Japan.

The Chinese government denied a request by Fuji Heavy Industries to enter into a joint venture with a midsize domestic automaker in Dalian.

Owners of Korean restaurants are up in arms over new safety guidelines that require them to cook meat “at more than 60 degrees Celsius for at least two minutes.” The regulations are in response to an E. Coli outbreak from a raw-beef dish that killed four people and sickened dozens this spring.

Headline of the Week: “Problematic Wild Goats on Kyushu Islands Put to Good Use Through Eco-weeding Project” (via The Mainichi Daily News)

Pumpkins, Not Just For Carving

When most of us think of pumpkins, we think of the orange orbs that get carved up for Halloween and pumpkin pie with gobs of whipped cream for dessert at Thanksgiving but pumpkins come in all shapes, colors, sizes and varieties. Some are good only for decoration, while others are not only decorative but very tasty in pies, soups and stews.

According to Wikipedia pumpkin “is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata, and is native to North America.” Some of the fun activities besides decorative carving for Halloween are Festivals and competitions with pumpkin chucking being among the most popular. Chucking has become so popular that some competitors grow their own special varieties that will survive being shot from catapults and cannons. The festivals are most dedicated to the competition for recipes and the competition for the largest pumpkin. This year that honor went to a 1818 pound beauty from Canada that was on display at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The pumpkin is one of the main symbols of Halloween and the Wiccan holiday of Samhain, which is a celebration of the end of the year, the final harvest and the coming of winter. The earliest that a craved pumpkin was associated with Halloween is 1866. Throughout Britain and Ireland the turnip has traditionally been used at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger, making them easier to carve than turnips.

In cooking, the the fleshy shell, seeds, leaves and flowers are all edible. Canned pureed pumpkin is readily available in stores, as are the small, sweet variety of fresh pumpkin for the ambitious cook to make their own puree or for stews. When it comes to pies, the easiest is the canned, my favorite being Libby’s with the recipe on the label, label, label. It’s the only recipe I have ever used for pumpkin pie and I’ve never has a complaint.

Pumpkin and all it parts are also very nutritious, containing many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents. There is also an interesting medical study of pumpkin extract on type-1 diabetic rats:

(P)ublished in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be “a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes,” possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2, as it was not the subject of the study.

One of my favorite recipes is Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping that is more popular than pie with my family.


Recipe and baking tips are below the fold

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 Surfeit of Pesto


Summer is long gone, but my basil doesn’t know that. When tomatoes are around I have no trouble staying on top of my crop, as rare is the tomato salad on my table that isn’t showered with slivered basil leaves. Now I’m making big batches of puréed basil with olive oil to freeze and use later for pesto and pistou (the Provençal version of pesto, minus the pine nuts).

Pesto is a nutritionally dense condiment; basil is a great source of flavonoids that are believed to have antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin K, and a very good source of iron, calcium and vitamin A.

Pesto and Pistou

You can freeze pesto or pistou for several months, and it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. If you are making this for the freezer, you’ll get the best results if you purée the basil with the olive oil and salt only. When ready to use, mash the garlic and pine nuts, blend in the thawed basil purée, and add the cheese.

Potato and Pesto Gratin

You can assemble this several hours before baking.

Broccoli Pesto

You can use this bright mixture as a dip, a spread or a sauce with pasta.

Pesto Portobellos

Although these are best when served right away, I didn’t get complaints when I reheated these several hours after making them.

Quinoa With Roasted Winter Vegetables and Pesto

This combination of sweet vegetables with pungent pesto is great for a simple grain and vegetable bowl.

Winter Vegetable Soupe au Pistou

This is a big, simple soup made with winter vegetables – all diced small and thrown into a big pot with water and simmered for an hour. It’s garnished with the Provençal version of pesto, which does not contain any pine nuts. It makes a hearty meal.

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”.

Spencer Ackerman: The Iraq War Ain’t Over, No Matter What Obama Says

President Obama announced on Friday that all 41,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq will return home by December 31. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end,” he said. Don’t believe him.

Now: it’s a big deal that all U.S. troops are coming home. For much of the year, the military, fearful of Iranian influence, has sought a residual presence in Iraq of several thousand troops. But arduous negotiations with the Iraqi government about keeping a residual force stalled over the Iraqis’ reluctance to provide them with legal immunity.

But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.

David Sirota: The Choice Between Democracy and Autocracy

Hear ye, hear ye! Let it be known that in this 10th month of the first year of His Majesty King John Hickenlooper’s reign, the sovereign governor of the Kingdom of Colorado handed down an edict closing the grounds of the Capitol palace to the public and ordering his praetorian guard to arrest the peaceful Occupy Denver protesters assembled at the castle gates.

This royal order, which made international headlines last week, was all about intimidating imagery. Just as King John had hoped, the iconic photograph to emerge from the sweep was a front-page Denver Post photo of a heavily armed police officer menacingly guarding the Capitol-a deliberate visual message telling the despot’s subjects to retreat or face consequences. He later told a reporter that he was aiming to preemptively crush “something that could easily catch on.”

Back on the East Coast, it was much the same, as His Majesty King Michael Bloomberg issued a decree stating that as a benevolent despot, he would “allow” his Manhattan subjects to occupy Wall Street (as if the mayor has the power to grant-or withhold-democratic rights). But then King Mike quickly sent his police force in for mass arrests, standing down only after a wave of outrage from the larger serfdom watching on television.

Alexander Cockburn: Welcome to Our Banana Republic and Its Global Panopticon

The day I became a citizen of these United States, June 17, 2009, in the old Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland, I raised my right hand and swore that I “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”


The sovereignty I was abjuring was the Republic of Ireland, itself not so far from shifting its allegiance from the Irish Constitution to the dictates of European bankers. Since questions about the Bill of Rights were likely to come up in those final interviews, many people in the theater had a pretty clear notion that along with allegiance came certain important protections, such as guarantees of due process and the right to a public trial by jury. There’s no doubt that for many, with vivid memories of summary seizure and arbitrary imprisonment in their biographies, these guarantees had great significance.

But as it turns out, it was all a fraud. The Uzbek down the row from me, who had fled Karimov’s regime, probably had no need to anticipate being boiled alive — a specialite de la maison in Tashkent. But being roasted alive by a Hellfire missile, doomed by the executive order of President Obama, without due process in any court of law, for reasons of state forever secret, could theoretically lie in his future. If presidential death warrants beyond the reach of scrutiny and review by courts or juries are the mark of a banana republic, then we were all waving the flag of just such an entity.

Matthew Rothschild: Qaddafi’s Death: Barbarism and Hypocrisy

I never mourn the death of a dictator.

Good riddance to Muammar Qaddafi, who terrorized his people for 42 years.

But neither do I cheer summary executions of anyone, no matter how brutal.

Just as the United States was wrong to rub out an unarmed Osama bin Laden, so, too, the Libyan rebels were wrong to murder the captured Qaddafi.

You can see the rebels parading Qaddafi around still alive.

You can see them bouncing his head up and down after he’s apparently dead.

The answer to barbarism is not more barbarism.

Amnesty International is right to ask for an investigation into Qaddafi’s death.

Nor do I applaud President Obama’s triumphalism.

Eugene Robinson: At a Loss for a World View

The demise of Moammar Gadhafi is big news around the world. Note to the Republican presidential candidates: This will come as a shock, but there are lots of other countries out there, and what happens in some of them is really important. Anyone who wants to serve as commander in chief should be paying attention.

This advice is aimed most urgently at Herman Cain, who wears his ignorance of international affairs as a badge of honor. “When they ask me who is the president of Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan, I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know,” he boasted recently. “And then I’m going to say, ‘How’s that going to create one job?'” For the record, Uzbekistan is a strategically important Central Asian nation whose president is named Islam Karimov.

Occupy Wall St. Livestream: Day 36

Watch live streaming video from globalrevolution at livestream.com


The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza 😉

“I don’t know how to fix this but I know it’s wrong.” ~ Unknown Author

Occupy Wall Street NYC now has a web site for its General Assembly  with up dates and information. Very informative and user friendly. It has information about events, a bulletin board, groups and minutes of the GA meetings.

NYC General Assembly #OccupyWallStreet


If you have to ask , you haven’t been listening

How to become Fox News public enemy No. 1

Cenk Uygur and “The Young Turks” are at Occupy Wall Street in New York City all week.

In this interview, writer Jesse LaGreca tells Cenk about becoming Fox News public enemy No. 1 after he called out a producer’s biased questions in a clip that made it online, if left on the cutting room floor.

Cornel West arrested as OWS spreads to Harlem

by Justin Elliot

A campaign against arbitrary searches by the NYPD gets a boost from Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street headed to Harlem Friday afternoon in a solidarity march that ended with the arrests of a few dozen protesters including Princeton professor Cornel West – just days after his arrest in Washington, D.C., at another demonstration.

The arrests, which occurred after marchers linked arms in front of a fortress-like NYPD station just off Frederick Douglass Boulevard, were a planned act of civil disobedience.


Finally, here is West’s speech just a few minutes before he and other protesters were arrested:

Bloomberg Says City Will Enforce Laws Requiring Permits

From Kevin Gosztola at FDL

The New York Post reported there will be more arrests of Occupy Wall Street participants, who do not abide by New York City laws for demonstrations. Bloomberg also warned that a crackdown was coming.

The Post quoted the Occupy Wall Street media coordinator Thorin Caristo, who stated:

  “His inability to create a clear and definitive opinion or position on OWS just shows he’s being tossed around like a bird in a storm. We all know what that storm is, that storm is the growing concern in the higher factions of Wall Street, that this movement might actually be making a difference…The mayor’s statements sound hardline and I have no doubt he may actually try to enforce those. But we all know that every time excessive police force is used in this situation the movement grows exponentially.”

The city should not take this point lightly. Use of excessive police force or any effort to disperse the encampment will only invigorate the occupation with renewed support. It will only lead to more marches and gatherings that the police will be deployed to babysit. It will only amplify scrutiny of New York City and its police force by the media and the people of the world.

On This Day In History October 22

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.

October 22 is the 295th day of the year (296th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 70 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1975,Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, is given a “general” discharge by the air force after publicly declaring his homosexuality. Matlovich, who appeared in his air force uniform on the cover of Time magazine above the headline “I AM A HOMOSEXUAL,” was challenging the ban against homosexuals in the U.S. military. In 1979, after winning a much-publicized case against the air force, his discharge was upgraded to “honorable.”

Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich (1943 – June 22, 1988) was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Matlovich was the first gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the military, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause celebre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers and gay people generally. In October 2006, Matlovich was honored by LGBT History Month as a leader in the history of the LGBT community.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, he was the only son of a career Air Force sergeant. He spent his childhood living on military bases, primarily throughout the southern United States. Matlovich and his sister were raised in the Roman Catholic Church. He considered himself a “flag-waving patriot,” but always regretted that for several years he maintained the racist attitudes he’d been exposed to as a child of the South. Not long after he enlisted, the United States increased military action in Vietnam, about ten years after the French had abandoned active colonial rule there. Matlovich volunteered for service in Vietnam and served three tours of duty. He was seriously wounded when he stepped on a land mine in DA Nang.

While stationed in Florida near Fort Walton Beach, he began frequenting gay bars in nearby Pensacola. “I met a bank president, a gas station attendant – they were all homosexual,” Matlovich commented in a later interview. When he was 30, he slept with another man for the first time. He “came out” to his friends, but continued to conceal the fact from his commanding officer. Having realized that the racism he’d grown up around was wrong, he volunteered to teach Air Force Race Relations classes, which had been created after several racial incidents in the military in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He became so successful that the Air Force sent him around the country to coach other instructors. Matlovich gradually came to believe that the discrimination faced by gays was similar to that faced by African Americans.

In 1973, previously unaware of the organized gay movement, he read an interview in the Air Force Times with gay activist Frank Kameny who had counseled several gays in the military over the years. He called Kameny in Washington DC and learned that Kameny had long been looking for a gay service member with a perfect record to create a test case to challenge the military’s ban on gays. About a year later, he called Kameny again, telling him that he might be the person. After several months of discussion with Kameny and ACLU attorney David Addlestone during which they formulated a plan, he hand-delivered a letter to his Langley AFB commanding officer on March 6, 1975. When his commander asked, “What does this mean?” Matlovich replied, “It means Brown versus the Board of Education” – a reference to the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case outlawing racial segregation in public schools. For Matlovich, his test of the military’s ban on homosexuals would be equivalent to that case. . .

From the moment his case was revealed to the public, he was repeatedly called upon by gay groups to help them with fund raising and advocating against anti-gay discrimination, helping lead campaigns against Anita Bryant’s effort in Miami, Florida, to overturn a gay nondiscrimination ordinance and John Briggs’ attempt to ban gay teachers in California. Sometimes he was criticized by individuals more to the left than he had become. “I think many gays are forced into liberal camps only because that’s where they can find the kind of support they need to function in society” Matlovich once noted.

With the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. in the late 1970s, Leonard’s personal life was caught up in the virus’ hysteria that peaked in the 1980s. He sold his Guerneville restaurant in 1984, moving to Europe for a few months. He returned briefly to Washington, D.C., in 1985 and, then, to San Francisco where he sold Ford cars and once again became heavily involved in gay rights causes and the fight for adequate HIV-AIDS education and treatment.

During the summer of 1986, Matlovich felt fatigued, then contracted a prolonged chest cold he seemed unable to shake. When he finally saw a physician in September of that year, he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Too weak to continue his work at the Ford dealership, he was among the first to receive AZT treatments, but his prognosis was not encouraging. He went on disability and became a champion for HIV/AIDS research for the disease which was claiming tens of thousands of lives in the Bay Area and nationally. He announced on Good Morning America in 1987 that he had contracted HIV, and was arrested with other demonstrators in front of the White House that June protesting what they believed was an inadequate response to HIV-AIDS by the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

On June 22, 1988, less than a month before his 45th birthday, Matlovich died of complications from HIV/AIDS beneath a large photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” Matlovich’s tombstone at Congressional Cemetery is on the same row as that of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

A Website has been created in his honor and that of other gay veterans, and includes a history of the ban on gays in the military both before and after its transformation into Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and illustrates the role that gay veterans fighting the ban played in the earliest development of the gay rights movement in the United States.

DADT was officially ended on September 20, 2011. We still have a long way to go with equal right for our gay and transsexual brothers and sisters.

Popular Culture (Music) 20111021: The Mamas & The Papas

I do not always write about bands that I particularly like, and this one of those times.  While they were quite popular at the time, none of the songs released by the band were very important in the grand scheme of music in my opinion.

The band formed in 1965 and by 1968 was no more, as they wanted solo careers.  We see how well that worked out for them with one exception.  The reunited for a couple of months in 1971, but not much came of it.  Their entire existence sort of reads like a soap opera, and we shall hit the high (this is quite a pun) parts of it during this piece.

Even though they are still remembered, they only had six songs to chart in the Top 10 in the US, and only two or three of those are remembered by more than real hardcore fans of them.  “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreaming” are about all there are known to most folks.