11/26/2011 archive

Random Japan



Apparently, a South Korean magazine, Weekly Chosun, claims to have tracked down Japanese abductee Megumi Yokota, alive and well and living in Pyongyang. North Korea admitted snatching a 13-year-old Yokota in 1977, but they claim she killed herself in 1994.

The captain of a Chinese fishing boat was arrested in Japanese waters off Nagasaki after leading the Coast Guard on a chase. Sound familiar?

The body of a 35-year-old Iwate man missing since the March 11 tsunami was discovered by his wife in a crushed car being kept at a temporary junkyard.

A powered exoskeleton robot-like suit made by Tsukuba-based Cyberdyne, which would come in handy during nuclear accidents, “features computer-controlled, motorized limbs, which respond to a user’s movements.”

The Daidogei World Cup of street performers featured 87 acts from 21 countries doing their thing at a Shizuoka park.

In an event organized by Panasonic to promote its Lamdash shaver, a world record was set for the largest number of men using the same model of electric razor at the same time in Japan and abroad. According to Guinness World Records, 1,981 men participated at 18 locations.

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.

HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer serial killers

The HIV virus may be about to become a new weapon in the fight against cancer as initial tests have shown it can drastically minimize and even help cure the most common form of leukemia.

A research team, led by Dr. Carl June working out of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has been experimenting with using a harmless version of the HIV virus combined with genetically modified white blood cells as a new way to fight cancer. The cells are taken from patients and modified with new genes that make them target cancer cells, but just as importantly, they can also multiply once injected allowing them to scale up as a small army inside the body.

The results have surprised everyone. These modified cells have acted like serial killers, multiplying and killing all of the cancer cells in two patients, while reducing them by 70% in a third. The equivalent of five pounds of cancer cells has disappeared from each patient. More good news stems from the fact that the modified cells remain in the body and have been seen to reactivate and kill new cancer cells as long as 12 months after they were first injected.

h/t digby and she notes:

Amazing. And it’s even more of a miracle that this research was done at all:

   It’s important to note that this small trial involving just three patients was lucky to go ahead at all. The study was rejected by pharamceutical companies and the National Cancer Institute. It was only through a grant awarded by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy that these patients received the treatment. We suspect the next trial will have more than enough interest, and therefore money, to go ahead.

If there’s enough money in it.

From the depths of the deepest hell comes some hope.

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”.

Naomi Wolf: The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy

The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality

US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park. [..]

Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.

That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.

Patricia J. Williams Do We Have Any Right to Privacy Outside Our Homes?

In the case of United States v. Jones, argued in the Supreme Court on November 8 and likely to be decided in the spring, the false comfort of the single-minded, weapons-hunting machine-man comes into more menacing focus. The appeal questions whether the government can place GPS devices on our cars without a warrant or our knowledge. The Justice Department asserts a right to do just that, with Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben arguing that citizens-even Supreme Court justices-have no expectation of privacy outside their homes. As Justice Roberts succinctly queried, “Your argument is you…don’t have to give any reason. It doesn’t have to be limited in any way, right?” Without a flicker of hesitation, Dreeben responded, “That is correct, Mr. Chief Justice.”

The Constitution protects our right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. At the same time, searches by the government exist against a very different backdrop from when the Fourth Amendment was written. How do we guard our “space” when it is neutralized as mere geography-beyond-the-house rather than the mobile positioning of the body politic? We live in an era when new technologies make the most personal information easily accessible, whether the government collects it or not. Our private lives are available “privately” everywhere, even if it’s deemed “data mining” by businesses. The market for information is as thorough as a laser; it is as inescapable as the air we breathe: our lives are online. Our medical records are stored in “clouds.” We date through websites. Our genetic code is decipherable from any bit of discarded bubble gum. “Private” security cameras aim their ceaselessly gathering gaze on every public street. Our cellphones blip our location to satellites in space. People send compromising pictures of themselves in “sext” messages that can never be retracted. If our neighbor wishes to surveil us or to stalk us, we are all too vulnerable.

Gail Collins: O.K., Now Ron Paul

Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman from Texas, now seems to have an outside chance of winning the Iowa caucus vote. Not the presidential nomination. It seems highly unlikely that the Republicans are going to give the nod to a guy who disapproves of the Patriot Act and marriage licenses. But, still, he’s definitely having a moment.

And, therefore, I feel obliged to add him to our survey of presidential candidate book reports.

Just say a prayer Rick Santorum doesn’t take off next.

John Nichols: ‘Dear Jenny: I Fired Your Mom and Put You to Work to Help You “Rise.” Love, Newt’

The picture is of elementary-school age girl mopping the hall in front of a row of lockers.

“Dear Jenny,” reads the accompanying text, “I fired your Mom and put you to work to help you ‘rise.’ Love, Newt.”

A postscript adds: “Hope you don’t miss your house, food and health care too much. You’ll thank me in 30 years, if you survive. Promise!”

The new ad campaign from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees goes to the heart of the matter. Former House Speaker and-at least for this week-Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich really does want to fire school janitors and hire kids to mop the halls, clean the restrooms and fix the boilers. Gingrich claims this switch-up will help elementary and high-school age children “begin the process of rising.”

The real point of the proposal is to destroy public-sector unions. And he is willing to end collective bargaining rights obtained during the New Deal era and in the years since, as well as child labor laws passed during the Progressive Era of a century ago, in order to achieve a political end.

New York Times Editorial: Legal Education Reform

American legal education is in crisis. The economic downturn has left many recent law graduates saddled with crushing student loans and bleak job prospects. The law schools have been targets of lawsuits by students and scrutiny from the United States Senate for alleged false advertising about potential jobs. Yet, at the same time, more and more Americans find that they cannot afford any kind of legal help.

Addressing these issues requires changing legal education and how the profession sees its responsibility to serve the public interest as well as clients. Some schools are moving in promising directions. The majority are still stuck in an outdated instructional and business model.

The problems are not new. In 2007, a report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching explained that law schools have contributed heavily to this crisis by giving “only casual attention to teaching students how to use legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice.”

Robert Naiman: Dancing on the Supercommittee’s Grave, Singing Hallelujah

The spectacle of Democrats and Republicans arguing about who is to “blame” for the “failure” of the “supercommittee” is certainly tempting for many partisans, but any progressives who participate in the spectacle risk attacking their own interests to the degree that they promote the implicit assumption that the public interest would have been better served if the supercommittee had reached a deal.

We shouldn’t be arguing about who is to “blame” for this development. We should be arguing about who should be awarded credit for this best of all plausible outcomes.

We should, to borrow a phrase from Monty Python, be dancing on the supercommittee’s grave, singing hallelujah.

Ray McGovern: Ask the Candidates Real Questions – Like These

Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says it’s time for citizens to put politicians on the spot with some more pointed questions

Pity the pundits. It must be hard to pretend to be a journalist and live in constant fear of being one question or comment away from joining the jobless.

This Thanksgiving holiday weekend we can be thankful for the obscene transparency of the “mainstream” pundits’ efforts to avoid at all cost offending the corporations that own and use them.

Rather, media personalities who wish to be around for a while must do what they can to promote the notion of American exceptionalism and the need to sacrifice at home in order to defend and expand the Empire – “so that we don’t have to fight them here.”

From a global perspective looking back a few decades, it is hard to believe that major powers like China and Russia were fiercely competing with each other for improved relations with the U.S., and that we were able to play one off against the other to advance America’s interests.

They are now laughing at us – smiling at how far we have outreached ourselves in our attempts to project power and corner the world market.

F1: Interlagos Qualifying

The news, such as it is, is mostly silly season speculation about who will be driving next year which is really the least entertaining and important part of the sport.  And at that the only real news is that Kubica’s rehabilitation may not be complete at the beginning of next season which is a problem mostly for him since his team has a deep and talented bench.

One interesting thing of note is that many of the backmarking teams spent a longer than usual time running practice laps and brought out some fiddly aero bits from next year’s machines.  This is indicative of the most pressing anti-competitive problem in Formula One which is that teams in general are not allowed to test enough because the weaker teams can’t afford to do it.

More than all the Downforce Reduction Systems and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems in the world, if you really wanted to advance the fortunes of the non-scoring teams you’d allow them to do some real engineering and instead limit the amount of simulation time which as we’ve seen as they’ve struggled the last 2 years to integrate is no substitute.

This year was a boring replay of last year only more one sided and there is no reason to believe next year will be any different since the regulations are only changing in the direction of making the cars less durable and safe.  No tire you can put on the track is going to deteriorate fast enough to create real pit competition or a meaningful alternative race strategy.  Likewise all the aerodynamic changes are in the direction of making less downforce and the cars more difficult to steer and unstable.  Great if you like flaming chunks of twisted metal, not so good if you want lead changes and racing opportunities.

Stories to watch in the off season are the negotiation between Ecclestone and the teams on a new agreement and the continuing unfolding of big money financial scandals particularly in connection with the 2 new US tracks in Austin and New Jersey.  Bernie is already jacking Texas up for their multimillion dollar entry bribe which the Comptroller has refused to release because the contract has insufficient assurances the race will even be held.

I predict Austin is going to become the embarrassing step child and the track a billion dollar boondoggle of a white elephant.  NASCAR for good or ill (and mostly ill) dominates racing in the States supporting no less than 3 separate series in a weekend that pack the stands with boozy beer-drinking red necked boors who like their blood sport flaming chunks of twisted metal wrecks so much that they build them like bumper cars, bend the rules to force the drivers to drive them that way, and don’t care that they’re slow moving pieces of crap.

Good luck with that Bernie.

Maybe I’ll be surprised and something interesting will happen by tomorrow, but I don’t expect it.  If you want to find out more about Interlagos which if it wasn’t a track would be nothing but a malarial swamp, click the link.

On this Day In History November 26

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 26 is the 330th day of the year (331st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 35 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1942, Casablanca, a World War II-era drama starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premieres in New York City; it will go on to become one of the most beloved Hollywood movies in history.

n the film, Bogart played Rick Blaine, a former freedom fighter and the owner of a swanky North African nightclub, who is reunited with the beautiful, enigmatic Ilsa Lund (Bergman), the woman who loved and left him. Directed by Michael Curtiz, Casablanca opened in theaters across America on January 23, 1943, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Bogart. It took home three Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film featured a number of now-iconic quotes, including Rick’s line to Ilsa: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” as well as “Round up the usual suspects,” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Where Are The Prosecutions?

In case you missed it (I strongly suspect you did), Yves Smith of naked capitalism appeared as a guest on the PBS News Hour to discuss why there have been so few prosecutions of ceo’s or bankers in the recent banking scandal.

The other guests are:

Lynn Turner is a former chief accountant for the Securities and Exchange Commission. He’s now a managing director at the consulting firm Litinomics.

Anton Valukas is a former U.S. attorney. He’s now in private practice and issued a bankruptcy report examining the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Mark Calabria is a former Republican staff member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. He’s now at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.

In Aftermath of Financial Crisis, Who’s Being Held Responsible?

The full transcript is here.

Turkey Day TV 4: College Throwball Attack

A big day, with about 17 opportunities to see a dozen different games including THE Game.

There’s also some Football (9:30 am Manchester United @ Newcastle) and Formula One Qualifying (11 am).

So I’ve already explained that you should lay out a 24 hour list including the half hours that you can cut and paste your Zap2it channel listings into.  Now to make it pretty.

It may make it easier for you if you bold your time labels at that point with <b></b>, but if I’m in a time crunch (and I usually am) and updating, I find it just as well to do that as the very last thing to mark each section’s completeness.  In any event it’s best to put off any extra formatting until you’ve identified all the programs you want to highlight and pasted them into your outline.  If you’re going to do links like I do you’ll put the link square bracket shortcuts ([]) around each one as you harvest it.

Once you have a complete outline it’s time to apply your global HTML starting with your line endings.  I find using ‘Unordered Lists’ (<ul><li></li> … <li></li></ul>) creates an attractive presentation, so go to the end of your first entry line, type in the end of list element HTML (|</li>|), and copy it to your Clipboard (Ctrl-Ins).

Now use the Down Arrow and End keys to go to the end of each entry and paste (Shift-Ins).  During this pass you should also delete any unused time lables and extra lines you have used to visual seperate each block of entries.  If necessary you can stop at any arbitrary point and format the rest of your updated entries later.  For instance I’m doing this particular piece in 12 hour chunks so I stopped at 5:30 pm.

You’ll notice each channel label is bolded and ends with a dash (-).  I think the bolding makes it easier to read and the dash is so I can achieve this effect with a search and replace.  You simply load up your search with dash space, |- | (this cuts down on your false positives), and replace it with end bold HTML and your dash space, |</b>- | (so you don’t lose your dash space).

Then you get to put your start line code at the begining of each entry.  If you are bolding your channel label it looks like |<li><b>|, otherwise it’s just |<li>|.  Type it once, copy to the Clipboard (Ctrl-Ins), and use the Down Arrow and Home keys to paste it (Shift-Ins).  This goes pretty fast too.

Finally, make sure each time period list has the begining (|<ul>|) and end (|</ul>|) Unordered List HTML code at the … wait for it … begining and end.  If you don’t make sure your |<ul>| and |</ul>|s and |<li>| and |</li>|s match the results you get will be unexpected at best.

I haven’t talked yet about the links, but you do those last.  I’ll get to them tomorrow and I hope it will be shorter and less boring and detailed than today.

This covers the time period from 6 am to 6 am.  It’s currently complete until 3 pm.

Update: All done.

Popular Culture 20111125: A Brief History of The Who. Part II

Last week we started this series, beginning in 1958 and going through early 1966.  This week we shall cover to the end of 1967.  The reason for the shorter timeframe is that the band were much busier and beginning to know real success beginning then, with a really good year in 1967.

Last week I failed to mention that Keith Moon married Patsy Kerrigan on 19660317.  He nicknamed her “Kim”, which stayed with her for the rest of her life.  She was killed in an automobile accident in 2006.  I apologize for the oversight.

I also neglected to report this piece of trivia about “Substitute”.  In the original US release on 19660402, the line in the original that goes “I look all white, but my dad was black.”  Was altered to “I try going forward but my feet walk back.”  I strongly suspect that this was because the Atco executives (this was the only song released by Atco with The Who) feared reprisal from the bigots in the US.

In any event, let us take up where we left off, more or less, last week.

Thanksgiving Memories

Reprinted from Wed Nov 14, 2007

I suppose I should come up with some Thanksgiving content but it’s kind of hard since it’s not such a big deal holiday for the Gilmores.

The menu is very traditional- Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Wild Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes (that’s for me), Acorn Squash (also mine), Broccoli and Cauliflower (everybody likes that), Cranberry Sauce and Cranberry Jelly (the canned kind with the ridges in it, even have special serving pieces), Tossed Salad with 3 kinds of Dressing (all bottled), Jello Salad, Olives (black and cocktail), Sweet Pickles, Carrots, Celery, Cottage Cheese, and Gravy, Sour Cream and Butter.  Cheese and Crackers (at least 4 types of each), Mixed Nuts, Chips and Dip (California Onion, is there any other?) with wine and the finger food while the table is prepared, Apple and Pumpkin Pies (the audience is not at ALL the same) with Whipped Cream, Ice Cream, and Sharp Cheddar (for the Apple, really worth a try if you haven’t) for dessert.

I may have left out a couple, but I’m not as good as Emily.

Of the Turkey I get the giblets, the organ meat, which I like because they’re very different in flavor and texture from what you normally eat.  I’m not a vegetarian, I just like meatless Marinara better than ground beef Bolognese and if a meal doesn’t have meat in it that is so just not a big deal to me.

But the menus and rituals are very closely timed because it takes a while to turn out that kind of spread.  I won’t pretend the production staff is not segregated in it’s roles- Turkey preparation is ladies time from thawing it out as much as 2 days before (yeah it really takes that long for a big bird if you follow directions and do it in the refrigerator instead of cheating by soaking it in warm water- salmonela, isn’t he the Italian guy who lives down the street?).  None of that fancy Food Channel cooking neither, our Butterball is done when the thermometer pops up.

It is something of a rite of passage that moves around from house to house depending on the guest list.  My Aunty Mame will be visiting her daughter and family, so that will be a big deal, but the Gilmores are not traveling.

Nor will we be sticking to a schedule.  Since I’m currently not attached I get to do only the one on actual Thanksgiving with Richard and Emily (no Luke and the Kims for me this year).  My brother and sister and their emotional attachments will check in and out depending on their needs, one good thing about Thanksgiving food is that it re-heats real well.

So the meal will be peated and repeated all weekend until you are thoroughly sick of it, though I must admit a fondness for Turkey hash (Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing, and little broken Turkey bits in Gravy) over noodles or rice- that usually happens around Tuesday.  And the TV will suck too, all this Sports crap and Holiday Parade programming and the knowledge that it’s time to go out there and consume.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

More Holiday Memories.