Daily Archive: 12/10/2011

Dec 10 2011

Random Japan

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HEY, YOU WANTED EQUAL RIGHTS…

A global survey commissioned by a company called Regus reveals that women in Japan’s workforce put in just as much overtime as their male counterparts.

The Regus poll also found that Brazil has now passed Japan in terms of the average length of working day. Didn’t see that one coming…

A 65-year-old man who hijacked a bus in Chiba and held two hostages at knifepoint said he did it to draw attention to complaints he had over his treatment in prison after a previous brush with the law.

The Elvis-like king of Bhutan and his super-hot new queen were in Japan for a visit, where the royal couple handed over some rare butterflies to their hosts.

On the subject of butterflies, Japanese researchers have solved the “eternal mystery” of why the colorful insects choose to lay their eggs where they do. Apparently, it’s all in their forelegs, where sensors identify chemicals in leaves that allow them to determine locations offering the best shot at survival. You’ll probably sleep better knowing that.

Dec 10 2011

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.

Gifts to Savor, Bite by Bite

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In addition to this week’s recipes, some of my past Recipes for Health would also make great gifts. I’ve always enjoyed making huge batches of granola and sending nice-looking bags or jars filled with it to family and friends. This year, though, I had another idea: packaging dry ingredients for pancakes and other baked goods with labels that specify the wet ingredients and instructions for mixing, like a cake mix. ~ Martha Rose Shulman

Marinated Goat Cheese

Package in a jar and add a note reminding the recipient that these are especially nice to have on hand for adding to salads and quick toasted open-faced sandwiches. Suggest they place a round on a piece of bread, pop it in a toaster oven and toast 3 to 4 minutes.

Lemon Olive Oil

“The lemon oil goes beautifully with vegetables or fish, and is lovely on a salad or drizzled over bread,” says Ms. Shulman

Pili Pili (Spicy Herb Oil)

“This spicy oil with an African name is popular throughout Provence. It’s usually on the table in pizzerias for drizzling, but it’s also terrific drizzled over vegetables, grilled meats or fish, grains and bread – whatever you want to add a kick to,” explains Ms. Shulman. “In France it is made with very hot bird chilies. You could use fresh Thai chilies for this, but I’m using dried chiles de arbol, because that’s what I have on hand and it makes an oil that will last for months.”

Harissa

Harissa is that fiery paste used in Tunisian cuisine. You can get it in tubes, but the homemade version tastes much fresher. “Make a note on the label to top up with olive oil whenever the harissa is used so that it will keep for a long time,” she advises.

Sweet Peppers Conserved in Oil

Roasted peppers always look beautiful in a jar of olive oil. Feel free to add other herbs, like oregano or basil, to the mix.

Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

The reason people buy mixes is to save the time it takes to measure and sift ingredients. “So why not take the dry ingredients called for in this recipe, put them in a nice bag and put a label on the package,” suggests Ms. Shulman. The label should say something like: “Beat together 2 extra-large eggs with 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk in the pancake mix. Add berries, chopped fruit or dried fruit as desired.”

Buckwheat and Amaranth Muffins

Same idea; mix up the dry ingredients and package them, then write out the missing ingredients and instructions on your homemade label. Or consider giving dry mix gifts for a variety of Ms. Shulman’s muffin recipes or Cornmeal Cranberry Scones.

Holiday Granola

“I used to make a rich holiday granola, but often it burned and stuck to the baking sheets,” says Ms. Shulman. “One of the reasons: I used wheat germ, which browns more quickly than oats. Now I keep the heat low in my oven and line my baking sheets with parchment. Be sure to stir the granola every 10 to 15 minutes, and switch the trays from top to bottom each time you stir. If you want to make a smaller amount, you can halve this recipe.”

Dec 10 2011

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”.

John Nichols: The Koch Brothers, ALEC and the Savage Assault on Democracy

Billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch finally got their way in 2011. After their decades of funding the American Legislative Exchange Council, the collaboration between multinational corporations and conservative state legislators, the project began finally to yield the intended result.

For the first time in decades, the United States saw a steady dismantling of the laws, regulations, programs and practices put in place to make real the promise of American democracy.

That is why, on Saturday, civil rights groups and their allies will rally outside the New York headquarters of the Koch brothers to begin a march for the renewal of voting rights in America.

For the Koch brothers and their kind, less democracy is better. They fund campaigns with millions of dollars in checks that have helped elect the likes of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich. And ALEC has made it clear, through its ambitious “Public Safety and Elections Task Force,” that while it wants to dismantle any barriers to corporate cash and billionaire bucks’ influencing elections, it wants very much to erect barriers to the primary tool that Americans who are not CEOs have to influence the politics and the government of the nation: voting.

Paul Krugman: In the Euro Zone, Looming Catastrophe

The basic story of the euro so far is that the introduction of the currency, by creating a false sense of safety, led to large capital flows to and correspondingly large current account deficits in the southern European nations: Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain (Ireland’s is a somewhat different, though related, story, which I won’t take on here.) See the summary picture on this page.

Now these imbalances need to be unwound. As anyone who has studied international macroeconomics can tell you, this requires two things. First, it requires a redistribution of spending, with the creditors spending more while the debtors spend less. Second, it requires a real depreciation on the part of the debtors, and a real appreciation on the part of the creditors – that is, wages and prices in the G.I.P.S. must fall relative to those in Germany.

William Rivers Pitt: The Final Indignity, the Last Insult, the Real America

Let’s start here.

   The Air Force dumped the incinerated partial remains of at least 274 American troops in a Virginia landfill, far more than the military had acknowledged, before halting the secretive practice three years ago, records show. The landfill dumping was concealed from families who had authorized the military to dispose of the remains in a dignified and respectful manner, Air Force officials said. There are no plans, they said, to alert those families now.

Think about that for a long moment.

This is a nation with a big, fat, fancy, shiny, appealing opinion of itself. The mythology of American Exceptionalism perseveres, even unto this dark and dilapidated day. We are not as others are. We are different. We are better. We honor and fete our soldiers, our veterans, our war heroes. We make movies about their bravery and their deeds, we throw parades for them annually, and when it suits us politically, we attack our political rivals for “not supporting” those who carry our banner in the field of combat.

New York Times Editorial: Europe’s Latest Try

We are not optimistic about Friday’s new fiscal pact. More discipline and coordination make sense, but first economies have to start growing.

We’re losing count of how many European Union summit meetings have ended with “historic” agreements to contain the euro-zone debt crisis only to see them fall apart as markets judged they were inadequate or irrelevant to the problem of making good on old debts and generating enough growth to pay off future obligations.

We are not optimistic that Friday morning’s agreement on a “new fiscal compact” for the euro-zone will now break that cycle.

The agreement – all 17 members that use the euro have agreed to sign it – is built around Germany’s demand for legal commitments to maintain fiscal and financial discipline. In the long-term, more discipline and coordination and more financial transparency are good things. But a pact that binds all members to more austerity in a time of recession is exactly what Europe does not need right now. The agreement will also increase the money available for future bailouts. But the amounts are still far too small to persuade investors that Europe is prepared to back up much larger economies like Italy and Spain. And it still leaves the euro zone without a lender of last resort, like America’s Federal Reserve, to defend vulnerable countries and banks from market panic.

Gail Collins: The Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

After a nominee for an ambassador’s post was grilled over a boyfriend she had lived with almost 20 years ago, it might be time to adopt a statute of limitations on this sort of thing.

New unnerving development in Congress: Some senators are claiming that a woman nominated to be ambassador to El Salvador can’t have the job because they don’t like a boyfriend she lived with almost 20 years ago.

These days, it’s hard enough to get kids to understand the possible future employment consequences of appearing naked on Facebook. If they hear about this one, they’ll give up entirely.

The debate involves Mari Carmen Aponte, who has been functioning as ambassador under a recess appointment by President Obama that runs out soon. The Democrats plan to make a last-ditch attempt to approve the nomination, but the Senate Republicans seem determined to block it.

David Uhlmann: For 29 Dead Miners, No Justice

Despite its questionable practices, Massey Energy will not be criminally prosecuted for a mine explosion that killed 29 workers in West Virginia.

EARLY on April 5, 2010, in the heart of West Virginia coal country, a huge explosion killed 29 workers at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine. Later that day, President Obama directed Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis to conduct “the most thorough and comprehensive investigation possible” and to work with the Justice Department to investigate any criminal violations.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department issued a 972-page report on the calamity – the nation’s worst mining disaster in 40 years. It concluded that Massey’s “unlawful policies and practices” were the “root cause of this tragedy.” It identified over 300 violations of the Mine Safety and Health Act, including nine flagrant violations that contributed to the explosion.

Dec 10 2011

On this Day In History December 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

December 10 is the 344th day of the year (345th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 21 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1901, the first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel directed that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Although Nobel offered no public reason for his creation of the prizes, it is widely believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war.

History

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden, into a family of engineers. He was a chemist, engineer, and inventor. In 1895 Nobel purchased the Bofors iron and steel mill, which he converted into a major armaments manufacturer. Nobel also invented ballistite, a precursor to many smokeless military explosives, especially cordite, the main British smokeless powder. Nobel was even involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over cordite. Nobel amassed a fortune during his lifetime, most of it from his 355 inventions, of which dynamite is the most famous. In 1888, Alfred had the unpleasant surprise of reading his own obituary, titled ‘The merchant of death is dead’, in a French newspaper. As it was Alfred’s brother Ludvig who had died, the obituary was eight years premature. Alfred was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. This inspired him to change his will. On 10 December 1896 Alfred Nobel died in his villa in San Remo, Italy, at the age of 63 from a cerebral haemorrhage.

To the wide-spread surprise, Nobel’s last will requested that his fortune be used to create a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, peace, physiology or medicine, and literature. Nobel wrote several wills during his lifetime. The last was written over a year before he died, signed at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris on 27 November 1895. Nobel bequeathed 94% of his total assets, 31 million SEK (c. US$186 million in 2008), to establish the five Nobel Prizes. Because of the level of scepticism surrounding the will, it was not until 26 April 1897 that it was approved by the Storting in Norway. The executors of Nobel’s will, Ragnar Sohlman and Rudolf Lilljequist, formed the Nobel Foundation to take care of Nobel’s fortune and organise the prizes.

Nobel’s instructions named a Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize, the members of whom were appointed shortly after the will was approved in April 1897. Soon thereafter, the other prize-awarding organisations were established: the Karolinska Institutet on 7 June, the Swedish Academy on 9 June, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 11 June. The Nobel Foundation reached an agreement on guidelines for how the prizes should be awarded, and in 1900, the Nobel Foundation’s newly-created statutes were promulgated by King Oscar II. In 1905, the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved. Thereafter Norway’s Nobel Committee remained responsible for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and the Swedish institutions retained responsibility for the other prizes.

Dec 10 2011

Popular Culture (Music): A Brief History of The Who. Part III

Our last installment in this series appeared on 201111.  This took us up to about the middle of 1967, and we shall pick up where we stopped.

They had been recording material for what ended up being The Who Sell Out, and some singles from that effort appeared beginning in September.  However, they also did a tour in the US and Canada.