11/19/2011 archive

Random Japan



A newspaper survey revealed that 26 percent of female high school students say using a cellphone is their favorite after-school activity, while just 11 percent of boys say so.

On the other hand, 21 percent of guys said they devote themselves to video games, but just 6 percent of girls do.

After a subway car in Nagoya was found covered in graffiti, an official with the local transportation bureau said it had been “decades” since such a thing had happened in the city.

A teenager who had been hospitalized since eating tainted beef at a yakinuku restaurant in April became the fifth person to die from an E. coli outbreak in Toyama.

Cops in Miyagi believe that a total of 89 gangsters have received quake-related welfare loans from the government despite a requirement that applicants submit a formal declaration stating they are not yakuza members.

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.

Cornmeal for Thanksgiving and Year-Round

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Cornmeal can be at the center of your plate in the form of spoonbread or polenta, or it can be one ingredient in a mixed-grain bread or pastry. [..]

The grain is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B6.

Jalapeño Spoonbread

Spoonbread, a traditional Southern dish, is sort of a cross between a soufflé and polenta – a light, fluffy mixture of cornmeal, water, milk and eggs. You could serve it as a vegetarian main dish or as a side.

Greek Greens Pie With Cornmeal Crust

This is a beautiful, rustic and comforting dish adapted from recipes from Epirus, a mountainous region of northwestern Greece. The cornmeal crust is like a thin layer of polenta both above and below the greens, which are fragrant with dill, mint and parsley.

Cornmeal Cranberry Drop Scones

If you’ve got a crowd coming for Thanksgiving, make some of these for breakfast or for afternoon tea. You can whip them up quickly. If you’ve got a crowd coming for Thanksgiving, make some of these for breakfast or for afternoon tea. You can whip them up quickly.

Greek Polenta With Onions and Raisins

During World War II, when many Greeks died of starvation, cornmeal was one of the few foods people had to eat. Older Greeks eschewed it after the war because it reminded them of those difficult years.

Yeasted Country Bread With Cornmeal

Cornmeal is used in many breads in the Mediterranean and southern Europe, especially in Turkey and Portugal. It contributes wonderful texture.

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: Stop the Austerity Train Wreck!


The biggest question right now on Planet Washington is whether the congressional supercommittee will reach an agreement.

That’s the wrong question. Agreement or not, Washington is on the road to making budget cuts that will slow the economy, increase unemployment, and impose additional hardship on millions of Americans.

Paul Krugman: Across Europe, All Eyes Fixed on Italy

Might we see Italy go careening off the edge in the next few days? I mean, even more than it has?

The Financial Times suggests that we might, writing of a “danger zone” in an article published Nov. 7: “Italian 10-year bond yields rose to euro-era highs of 6.68 percent at one point, well into territory considered unsustainable by the markets. Traders warned that without [European Central Bank] intervention, the Italian bond markets would have seen leaps in yields that forced Ireland and Portugal to accept emergency bailouts.”

I’m trying to think about this, so a few observations.

Dan Baker: How Conservatives Exploit the Myth of “Wealthy Elderly” to Justify Gutting Social Security

Right-wingers somehow think that seniors with incomes under $30,000 a year must sacrifice to balance the budget.

The austerity gang seeking cuts to Social Security and Medicare has been vigorously promoting the myth that the elderly are an especially affluent and privileged group. Their argument is that because of their relative affluence, cuts to the programs upon which they depend is a simple matter of fairness. There were two reports released last week that call this view into question.


This is the group that the Very Serious People in Washington want to target for their deficit reduction. While the Very Serious People debate whether people who earn $250,000 a year are actually rich when it comes to restoring the tax rates of the 1990s, they somehow think that seniors with incomes under $30,000 a year must sacrifice to balance the budget. There is a logic here, but it ain’t pretty.

Gail Collins: Republican Financial Plans

Our topic for today is: Where do the Republican candidates for president get their money? The personal finances of the G.O.P. presidential hopefuls are important for two reasons. One is that we’re talking about people who aspire to the most prestigious and important job the nation has to offer. The other is that these folks seem to have done really, really well. Perhaps, they can offer career tips.

Remember when Newt Gingrich claimed that the mortgage giant Freddie Mac paid him $300,000 for his advice “as a historian?” Thousands of young history majors who were resigned to a future in which they would pad out their $2,000-a-semester salaries as part-time adjunct lecturers with fulfilling careers in bartending.

David Sirota: The GOP’s victim-blaming strategy

From Iraq to OWS, Republicans are going to increasingly absurd measures to protect the wealthy.

According to the most reliable counts, the United States’ invasion and occupation of Iraq has killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians, 650,000 Iraqi civilians or more than 1 million Iraqi civilians. In other words, we’ve vaporized the equivalent of Billings, Mont. (pop. 104,170), Memphis, Tenn. (pop. 646,889) or San Jose, Calif. (pop. 945,942).

Horrifying as these statistics are, imagine how much more disgusted you would be if a foreign power actually did vaporize those cities, and then followed up that annihilation by having its leading politicians and pundits demand that Americans pay reparations for the privilege of experiencing such devastation.

If this seems difficult to fathom, that’s only because we live in a culture defined by a particularly American lack of empathy – the fist-thrusting, crotch-grabbing, middle-finger-extending “USA!”-chanting kind that prevents many of us from seeing the world through any other nation’s eyes. Indeed, if we didn’t suffer from this blinding endemic, it would undoubtedly be considered bigger news – and a bigger outrage – that one of our major political parties is now regularly demanding Iraqis pay us remunerations for the expenses we incurred by invading and occupying their nation and then killing large numbers of their countrymen.

New York Times Editorial: The Inside Man

For months, Newt Gingrich tried to ingratiate himself with the Republican Party’s right wing by tearing down the two government-sponsored mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He joined the counterfactual conservative chorus that prefers to blame the companies for the housing crisis rather than the banks. He lamented their cozy relationship to Washington’s insiders. And he was rewarded with a swell of support from the anybody-but-Mitt-Romney crowd.

The self-styled reform candidate left out a small detail. He made a great deal of money from Freddie Mac for many years, and he was deeply tied to its power structure.

Mark Hertsgaard: The Keystone Victory

Victories against climate change have been rare, so it’s vital to recognize them when they happen. The Obama administration’s decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline is one such victory-arguably the most important achievement in the climate fight in North America in years.

True, the administration’s November 10 statements did not outright kill the 1,700-mile pipeline, which the TransCanada company wants to build to transport highly polluting tar sands from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas coast. Yes, President Obama or his successor could try to greenlight the project in 2013, when the State Department’s new review of the project is due. But that’s unlikely, as TransCanada’s CEO, Russ Girling, has acknowledged. The project’s contracts require the pipeline to be completed by 2013, or refineries will be free to look elsewhere for supply, which Girling expects they will.

Welcome to the Police States of America

President Barack Obama addresses the protests:

My administration has been closely monitoring the situation… and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks.

As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the… authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

The people… have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny.

These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

The only problem with those words is that they are a very clever edit by a poster at Antemedius of the speech President Obama gave on January 11 28, 2011 in support of the people’s uprising in Egypt. In that speech, he called upon Egyptian authorities to “refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.” Apparently the ideals he espoused in that speech did not apply to the Occupy movement that has spread across this country protesting the economic disparity of 99% of this country’s citizens. His silence on incidents like the ones in these videos speaks volumes as to whom Barack Obama really supports.

Warning: the contents of these videos are graphic and disturbing.

Occupy Oakland: second Iraq war veteran injured after police clashes

Kayvan Sabehgi in intensive care with a lacerated spleen after protests in Oakland, a week after Scott Olsen was hurt. He says police beat him with batons

Kayvan Sabehgi, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is in intensive care with a lacerated spleen. He says he was beaten by police close to the Occupy Oakland camp, but despite suffering agonising pain, did not reach hospital until 18 hours later. [..]

Sabehgi, a small business owner in the Oakland area, was alone and trying to leave the area when he was confronted by a phalanx of the police in riot gear wielding batons. From the video he was hardly a threat, yet he he was beaten unmercifully, left in excruciating pain that was ignored by a nurse, who should lode his/her license. He under went surgery the next day to repair the tear using a surgical patch that stopped the bleeding and spared Sabehgi the lose of his spleen.

Then yesterday during peaceful demonstrations protesting tuition increases and on the campus of University of California – Davis, campus police saying they “feared for their lives” pepper sprayed a group of students who were sitting with their arms locked together. There are now calls for the resignation of UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi thinks this is the appropriate response to a peaceful sit-in.

Do these campus thugs look like they were in fear of their lives? h/t John Aravosis at AMERICAblog

On this Day In History November 19

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.

November 19 is the 323rd day of the year (324th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 42 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address.

On November 19, 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War.

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing.  The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s ultimate decline.

Charged by Pennsylvania’s governor, Andrew Curtin, to care for the Gettysburg dead, an attorney named David Wills bought 17 acres of pasture to turn into a cemetery for the more than 7,500 who fell in battle. Wills invited Edward Everett, one of the most famous orators of the day, to deliver a speech at the cemetery’s dedication. Almost as an afterthought, Wills also sent a letter to Lincoln-just two weeks before the ceremony-requesting “a few appropriate remarks” to consecrate the grounds.

Text of Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Popular Culture 20111118: A Brief History of The Who. Part I

In this series about The Who we have reviewed all of their albums through Who are You, and I chose to stop there because the band were just not the same after the death of Keith Moon.  We shall now go back and look at the formation of the band, their rise to fame, and their slow decline after the release of Who’s Next.

Tonight we shall concentrate on their meeting and early success, ending with the departure of the really shady Shel Talmey in 1966.  Most people are not really aware of how far back some of the band members actually went, and how the band came to be in its lineup of Roger Daltrey, John Enwistle, Keith Moon, and Peter Townshend.  There were two others who, although they did not play or sing or write, were absolutely essential to the evolution of the band into what it became.