02/04/2012 archive

Random Japan


Clever darlings

        The woman accused of harboring Aum Shinrikyo fugitive Makoto Hirata for 17 years says she made up her pseudonym-Kyoko Yamaguchi-by combining the names of popular actress-singers Kyoko Koizumi and Momoe Yamaguchi.

   A survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government found that 9 percent of expectant mothers failed to undergo pre-delivery health checks “because they didn’t realize they were pregnant.”

   As part of efforts to prepare Tokyo for a major earthquake, JR East has stockpiled water bottles and blankets for 30,000 commuters, while Tokyo Metro is storing relief supplies for 100,000 others.

   Two rare crested ibises injured on Sado Island recently are believed to have been attacked by falcons. The incidents are puzzling, as falcons normally only attack animals smaller than themselves.

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.

All Kinds of Kale

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Kale is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables (genus Brassica), so named because their flowers have four petals in the shape of a cross. A nutritional powerhouse that tastes wonderful when properly cooked, kale is one of nature’s best sources of vitamins A, C and K and a very good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. The flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates are believed to have antioxidant properties, as are two other compounds that kale delivers, zeaxanthin and lutein, both thought to play a role in protecting the eyes.

These greens are hearty, and they maintain about 50 percent of their volume when you cook them, unlike spinach, which cooks down to a fraction of its volume. The various types of kale also maintain a lot of texture, which makes them perfect for stir-fries. Make sure to remove the ropy stems and wash the leaves in at least two changes of water, as organic kale can be very attractive to aphids. Aphids won’t hurt you, but it might take a few rinses to clean them off the leaves.

Spicy Stir-Fried Tofu With Kale and Red Pepper

Kale is a good choice of greens for a stir-fry because it retains its texture.

Orecchiette With Tomato Sauce and Kale

When tomatoes are out of season, canned tomatoes are a good substitute in this Apulian-style meal.

Savory Bread Pudding With Kale and Mushrooms

This satisfying dish, made with low-fat milk, puts stale bread to good use.

Risotto With Red Kale and Red Beans

Despite what you may have heard about risotto, this colorful dish doesn’t require constant stirring.

Mediterranean Fish Chowder With Potatoes and Black Kale

Using precut frozen fish makes this dish economical as well as delicious.

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”.

Joan Walsh and Rebecca Traister: Susan G. Komen’s priceless gift

A radical decision woke the country up to an alarming rightward drift, and gave new life to women’s health advocacy

The startling intensity that we saw this week in response to Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to pull its grants from Planned Parenthood – an intensity that prompted the Komen foundation to reverse its decision today – may be the best thing that’s happened to the conversation about reproductive rights in this country for decades. It certainly should be.

Practically since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, reproductive rights activists have been left to play stilted defense against ideological opponents who grabbed the language of morality, life, love and family as their own, always deploying it with reference to the fetus. The rhetoric around reproductive rights, which has more recently begun to creep into arguments over contraception, has become suffocating in its emotional self-righteousness, but too muscular, too ubiquitous to effectively combat.

But the overreach by the Komen foundation, while surely intended to strike yet another blow on the side of antiabortion activism, succeeded instead in waking a powerful constituency – armed with precisely the language and emotional heft they’ve been lacking for too long.

George Zornick: Schneiderman Goes After Banks for Foreclosure Fraud

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a major lawsuit today against three major too-big-to-fail banks, charging them with rampant foreclosure fraud in the wake of the housing crisis. It’s a crucially important lawsuit in its own right, but also raises major questions about the nature of the supposedly looming federal and state settlement with these same banks.

Schneiderman is acting here as New York attorney general-not as co-chair of the new federal task force on the financial crisis. That effort aims to uncover wrongdoing before the crash-or, “the stuff that blew up the economy,” as he put it last week.

This is different. Schneiderman, on behalf of New York State, is accusing Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo of serious and wide-ranging abuses with foreclosures-of improperly foreclosing on homes they didn’t have the correct ownership of or paperwork for. Specifically, Schneiderman is targeting the Mortgage Electronic Registry System (MERS), which he also names in the lawsuit. MERS is a private, national database of foreclosures created by the banks and used widely for taking people’s homes-but since it wasn’t public and run by the financial institutions that stood to gain from rapid foreclosures, there were (shockingly!) a lot of errors and improper filings.

Gail Collins: The Politics of Absolutely Everything

This week we had a huge political fight about breast cancer. Clearly, we have now hit the point where there’s nothing that can’t be divided into red-state-blue-state.

Nothing. The other day I saw a blog called “I Dig My Garden” that had a forum on whether Republicans could truly love gardening. And there was a little dust-up in Albany over politicization of a local pet blog, which had featured a discussion on Mitt Romney’s driving to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.

But breast cancer would seem like the last thing to go. Everybody hates cancer and everybody likes breasts – infants, adults, women, men. Really, it’s America’s most popular body part.

Russ Baker: Close Reading: The Saudis, a Twitter Investment, and the End of Arab Spring?

Is Twitter (a) a leading vehicle for freedom movements, or (b) primed to control and shut down open discourse throughout the world?

This question emerged recently when we learned that the global messaging service was planning to abide by the rules of each country in terms of content it carries. Here’s New York Times:

   This week, in a sort of coming-of-age moment, Twitter announced that upon request, it would block certain messages in countries where they were deemed illegal. The move immediately prompted outcry, argument and even calls for a boycott from some users.

Twitter said it would also “give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country – while keeping it available in the rest of the world.””

Now, you may be one of those people who very proudly have not incorporated Twitter into your life, but this development is still of enormous relevance to you and your world. Why? Simply because Twitter, with its declared 175 million registered users (many of whom, it must be said, are inactive) has become one of the most powerful forces in communication today, arguably more relevant to more people than even traditional heavyweights like The New York Times, CNN, and the BBC.

Laura Flanders: The Deal That Saved Detroit (and Banned Strikes)

President Obama is, as AP puts it, “wearing his decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler three years ago as a badge of honor” on his re-election campaign. It saved jobs and working communities, brought the US auto industry back from the brink. In January, US auto sales were up 11 percent over a year ago, and a proud president was cooing to the college students of Ann Arbor, Michigan:

“The American auto industry was on the verge of collapse and some politicians were willing to let it just die. We said no…. We believe in the workers of this state.”

You’re going to be hearing a lot about the deal that saved Detroit in the next few months, not least because likely opponent Mitt Romney was against it. Then Governor Romney wrote in the fall of 2008 that if the big three auto companies received a bailout, “we can kiss the American auto industry goodbye.” Romney bad; Obama good; Big Three back. The Deal with Detroit is gold dust for Democrats. Reality is a bit more complicated.

For one thing, it was Republican President Bush, not the Democrats’ Barack Obama, who originally decided not to stand by as the auto makers died. The deal saved an industry-US cars are still being made in the US-but it came at such a high price that in many ways it’s a whole new industry. The American auto industry that built middle-class lives as well as cars-that one we kissed good-bye, and it may be a while before we see it back again.

Jeff Biggers: If We Can Stop the Keystone Pipeline, We Can Stop Mountaintop Removal. Right?

One of the most heartening moments of solidarity in the Tar Sands Action movement took place last summer: A contingent of Appalachian coalfield residents, whose homes are literally under siege from daily blasting and stripmining fallout, took their place at a White House sit-in and went to jail in an appeal to President Obama to deny the TransCanada Keystone pipeline permit.

For the Appalachian residents, like many citizens on the dirty energy frontlines, the pipeline decision served as a litmus test for the Obama administration’s commitment to dealing with climate change and a clean energy future.

Eastern Kentucky activist Teri Blanton, who lost her brother to a coal mining accident and has witnessed the destruction of her native Harlan County from stripmining over the past decades, invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

On This Day In History February 4

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.

February 4 is the 35th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 330 days remaining until the end of the year (331 in leap years).

On this day in 1789, George Washington becomes the first and only president to be unanimously elected by the Electoral College. He repeated this notable feat on the same day in 1792.

The peculiarities of early American voting procedure meant that although Washington won unanimous election, he still had a runner-up, John Adams, who served as vice president during both of Washington’s terms. Electors in what is now called the Electoral College named two choices for president. They each cast two ballots without noting a distinction between their choice for president and vice president. Washington was chosen by all of the electors and therefore is considered to have been unanimously elected. Of those also named on the electors’ ballots, Adams had the most votes and became vice president.

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775-1783, and he presided over the writing of the Constitution in 1787. As the unanimous choice to serve as the first President of the United States (1789-1797), he developed the forms and rituals of government that have been used ever since, such as using a cabinet system and delivering an inaugural address. As President he built a strong, well-financed national government that avoided war, suppressed rebellion and won acceptance among Americans of all types, and Washington is now known as the “Father of his country”.

In Colonial Virginia, Washington was born into the provincial gentry in a wealthy, well connected family that owned tobacco plantations using slave labor. Washington was home schooled by his father and older brother but both died young and Washington became attached to the powerful Fairfax clan. They promoted his career as surveyor and soldier. Strong, brave, eager for combat and a natural leader, young Washington quickly became a senior officer of the colonial forces, 1754-58, during the first stages of the French and Indian War. Indeed, his rash actions helped precipitate the war. Washington’s experience, his military bearing, his leadership of the Patriot cause in Virginia, and his political base in the largest colony made him the obvious choice of the Second Continental Congress in 1775 as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to fight the British in the American Revolution. He forced the British out of Boston in 1776, but was defeated and nearly captured later that year when he lost New York City. After crossing the Delaware River in the dead of winter he defeated the enemy in two battles, retook New Jersey, and restored momentum to the Patriot cause. Because of his strategy, Revolutionary forces captured two major British armies at Saratoga in 1777 and Yorktown in 1781. Negotiating with Congress, governors, and French allies, he held together a tenuous army and a fragile nation amid the threats of disintegration and invasion. Historians give the commander in chief high marks for his selection and supervision of his generals, his encouragement of morale, his coordination with the state governors and state militia units, his relations with Congress, and his attention to supplies, logistics, and training. In battle, however, Washington was repeatedly outmaneuvered by British generals with larger armies. Washington is given full credit for the strategies that forced the British evacuation of Boston in 1776 and the surrender at Yorktown in 1781. After victory was finalized in 1783, Washington resigned rather than seize power, and returned to his plantation at Mount Vernon, proving his opposition to dictatorship and his commitment to republican government.

Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention that drafted the United States Constitution in 1787 because of his dissatisfaction with the weaknesses of Articles of Confederation that had time and again impeded the war effort. Washington became the first President of the United States in 1789. He attempted to bring rival factions together in order to create a more unified nation. He supported Alexander Hamilton‘s programs to pay off all the state and national debts, implement an effective tax system, and create a national bank, despite opposition from Thomas Jefferson. Washington proclaimed the U.S. neutral in the wars raging in Europe after 1793. He avoided war with Britain and guaranteed a decade of peace and profitable trade by securing the Jay Treaty in 1795, despite intense opposition from the Jeffersonians. Although never officially joining the Federalist Party, he supported its programs. Washington’s “Farewell Address” was an influential primer on republican virtue and a stern warning against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

Washington had a vision of a great and powerful nation that would be built on republican lines using federal power. He sought to use the national government to improve the infrastructure, open the western lands, create a national university, promote commerce, found a capital city (later named Washington, D.C.), reduce regional tensions and promote a spirit of nationalism. “The name of AMERICAN,” he said, must override any local attachments.” At his death Washington was hailed as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”. The Federalists made him the symbol of their party, but for many years the Jeffersonians continued to distrust his influence and delayed building the Washington Monument. As the leader of the first successful revolution against a colonial empire in world history, Washington became an international icon for liberation and nationalism. His symbolism especially resonated in France and Latin America. Historical scholars consistently rank him as one of the two or three greatest presidents.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120203: A Brief History of The Who. 1976

Last time we looked at 1975, and if anything 1976 was a bit more settled for The Who in some respects.  Most of their time was spent doing a huge tour, with multiple Atlantic Ocean crossings.  There were a couple of reasons for that.

Likely the largest reason was that the dispute betwixt the band and Kit Lambert was still in litigation, and it was sort of difficult to release old material, and new material was still being written.  They were stuck in a way just to perform live.  That was to my personal advantage, and more on that is to come later.

One the whole, the band were probably at their best musically in 1976.  The exception was Moon, who was beginning to accelerate his decline both personally and musically, but that did not come out until sort of late in the year.