04/07/2012 archive

How To Make Friends And Influence People

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness News 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.

Sephardic Dishes for the Passover Table

Bitter Herbs Salad

Throughout the Mediterranean, springtime is the season for spinach and other greens, artichokes and fava beans, and these vegetables make delicious appearances at Passover meals. There’s much in the way of healthy produce to choose from, and olive oil is the only fat you’ll find.

Bitter Herbs Salad

Endive, romaine and chicory are present on many Sephardic ritual platters, but here these pungent greens form the basis for a salad with a garlicky dressing.

Moroccan Fava Bean and Vegetable Soup

The springtime bounty of the Mediterranean – greens, artichokes, fava beans – plays a starring role in these tradition-rich dishes.

Egg Lemon Soup With Matzos

No schmaltz is needed for this comforting Greek-style soup – the matzos are crumbled right into the broth.

Turkish Spinach With Tomatoes and Rice

Not every tradition allows rice during Passover; in this fragrant dish there’s just enough of it to add substance to the vegetables.

Braised Greek Artichoke Bottoms With Lemon and Olive Oil

These brightly flavored artichokes, served cold or at room temperature, can be made a day ahead of time.

Open Thread: What We Now Know

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and his guests on Saturday morning’s Up with Chris discuss what they now know about the events of the past week. At the table are Van Jones (@vanjones68), author of Rebuild the Dream and former green-jobs advisor for the Obama administration; Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh), MSNBC Political Analyst and Salon Editor-at-Large; Ann Friedman (@annfriedman), executive editor of GOOD magazine; Josh Barro (@jbarro), Forbes.com and National Review Online contributor; Mark Bittman (@bittman), food writer for the New York Times and author of Food Matters and How to Cook Everything; and Patrick Shea, attorney for climate change activist Tim DeChristopher and former director of the Bureau of Land Management.

This morning we covered President Obama’s media criticism and Mitt Romney’s reaction to his statements. Plus, we discussed civil disobedience with climate change activist Tim DeChristopher’s attorney Patrick Shea, Chris’s Story of the Week, and the Occupy movement’s 99% Spring Training. And we took a closer look at food politics and the controversy over lean finely textured beef, aka “pink slime”, with New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.

What We Now Know

What do you now know?

Open Thread

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”.

Paul Krugman: Not Enough Inflation

A few days ago, Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, spoke out in defense of his successor. Attacks on Ben Bernanke by Republicans, he told The Financial Times, are “wholly inappropriate and destructive.” He’s right about that – which makes this one of the very few things the ex-maestro has gotten right in the past few years.

But why are the attacks on Mr. Bernanke so destructive? After all, nobody in America is or should be immune from criticism, least of all those – like the chairman of the Fed – who, by the nature of their positions, have immense power to make our lives better or worse. And while there is an unmistakable thuggishness to the campaign against the Fed, most famously Rick Perry’s warning that the Fed chairman would be treated “pretty ugly” if he visited Texas, surely the bad manners of the critics aren’t the most important issue.

New York Times Editorial: How to Expand the Voter Rolls

A country that should be encouraging more people to vote is still using an archaic voter registration system that creates barriers to getting a ballot. In 2008, 75 million eligible people did not vote in the presidential election, and 80 percent of them were not registered.

The vast majority of states rely on a 19th-century registration method: requiring people to fill out a paper form when they become eligible to vote, often at a government office, and to repeat the process every time they move. This is a significant reason why the United States has a low voter participation rate.

Robert Reich: What Today’s Job Numbers Mean

The economy added only 120,000 jobs in March — down from the rate of more than 200,000 in each of the preceding three months. The rate of unemployment dropped from 8.3 to 8.2 percent mainly because fewer people were searching for jobs — and that rate depends on how many people are actively looking.

It’s way too early to conclude the jobs recovery is stalling, but there’s reason for concern.

Remember: Consumer spending is 70 percent of the economy. Employers won’t hire without enough sales to justify the additional hires. It’s up to consumers to make it worth their while.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Want Jobs? Rescue Homeowners — and Spend, Baby, Spend

Now we know: The jobs situation is bleak, and it will continue to be bleak until we face up to the fact that we need more stimulus spending — lots more — and we have to relieve millions of homeowners from their indentured servitude to Wall Street so that they can help restore the economy, too.

In other words spend, spend, spend — and provide some principal reduction for underwater homeowners.

Bad News

We won’t recap all the employment figures in today’s jobs report, since they’re available elsewhere. We’ll stick to the highlights:

A key figure is essentially unchanged: There are 12.7 million unemployed people in this country.

Eugene Robinson: Handicapping the Veep Stakes

Washingotn – Playing second fiddle to Mitt Romney won’t be easy, but somebody has to be his running mate. Let’s handicap the field:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: The choice who offers the biggest potential reward — for the biggest risk.

The telegenic young Cuban-American could potentially shore up three of the Romney campaign’s weaknesses: He is an unambiguous conservative, elected with tea party backing, who would temper Romney’s “Massachusetts moderate” image among the disgruntled GOP base. Rubio’s groundbreaking candidacy could lure back some of the Hispanic voters driven away by Republican policies. And he happens to come from a huge swing state that Romney has to win in order to have a chance at the White House.

Gail Collins: Godfathers, Caterpillars and Golf

Republican to-do checklist:

1) Pooh-pooh all the talk about a war on women. [..]

2) Seek out news about the mood of the womenfolk. [..]

3) Make Rick Santorum get out of the race. [..]

4) Keep Mitt on script. [..]

5) Watch the Masters golf tournament. [..]

6) Prepare for the next big primaries. [..]

7) Prepare for the convention. [..]

8) Try to figure out what to do for the four months in between. That’s enough time to run an entire season of a TV series.

Alexander Cockburn: Mitt Romney Flip-Flops His Way to the Top

Mitt Romney will be the Republican to face President Obama in the fall. Tuesday night was the clincher, as the former Massachusetts governor won in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C. He may stumble on, but the Catholic zealot Rick Santorum is finished, wiped out by Romney’s vast financial resources.

Eight years ago, Romney began his bid to win the Republican nomination, only to be crushed by John McCain. In that campaign, he was tagged as a crypto-liberal former governor of Massachusetts and author of a health plan derided by Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

The Fabulous Non-Edible Egg by Fabergé

Decorating eggs has long been a tradition of Easter. They can be dyed or painted, glittered and stickered with symbols of the season. But the most fabulously decorated eggs of all are those of the House of Fabergé that were created for the Tsars of Russia in the late 1800’s. The very first egg was created for the Empress Maria Fedorovna in 1885 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her marriage to Tsar Alexander III. Alexander gave the commission to create the special Easter Egg to Peter Carl Fabergé after Maria had admired his beautiful creations. The very first egg was presented to the Empress on Easter morning. It appeared on the outside to be a simple enameled egg, called “The Hen” but inside is a golden yolk; within the yolk is a golden hen; and concealed within the hen is a diamond miniature of the royal crown and a tiny ruby egg. The crown and the ruby egg have long been lost. The Empress was so delighted with the egg that the Tsar rewarded Fabergé with a commission for an Easter egg every year. The requirements are straightforward: each egg must be unique, and each must contain a suitable surprise for the Empress.

Alexander died unexpectedly in 1894 and his eldest son became Tsar Nicholas II. Nicholas, feeling unprepared to assume the reign, decided his best course as ruler was to continue to do everything his father did, including the creation of the Fabergé Egg each Easter for his mother and a second order to be delivered to his new wife, Czarina Alexandra Fedorovna. One of the most elegant eggs was the Fifteenth Anniversary egg (1911), a family album just over five-inches-tall. Exquisitely detailed paintings depict the most notable events of the reign of Nicholas II and each of the family members. “Not only is it a staggering tour-de-force of the jeweler’s art,” says Forbes, “but probably more than any other egg, it is the one most intimately associated with the whole tragedy of Nicholas and Alexandra and that incredibly beautiful family. There are these five children – all these sort of glamorous events surrounding their lives – and there they are looking out at us happily unknowing what was going to happen to them just a few years later.”

The Eggs were so opulent and each one so unique, that they created a demand from other aristocrats, kings and queens and captains if industry. A series of seven eggs was made for the industrialist Alexander Kelch and others were made for the Duchess of Marlborough, the Nobels and the Rothschilds.

After the 1917 Russian Revolution and the assassination of Nicholas and his family, the Tsars treasures including the Fabergé Eggs were moved to the Kremlin Armoury on the orders of Vladimir Lenin. Of the immediate family, only Nicholas’ mother, the Dowager Empress Maria Fedorovna, escapes the assassin’s bullet. As she makes a hasty departure from her homeland, she brings with her the Order of St. George egg, the last Fabergé Imperial Easter egg she would ever receive from her son Nicholas.

In a bid to acquire more foreign currency, Joseph Stalin had many of the eggs sold in 1927. Many of the eggs were sold to Armand Hammer, president of Occidental Petroleum and a personal friend of Lenin, whose father was founder of the United States Communist party. After the collection in the Kremlin Armoury, the largest gathering of Fabergé eggs was assembled by Malcolm Forbes. Totalling nine eggs, and approximately 180 other Fabergé objects, the collection was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in February 2004 by Forbes’ heirs. Before the auction even began the collection was purchased in its entirety by the oligarch Victor Vekselberg for a sum estimated between $90 and $120 million. The Winter Egg, studded with 1,660 diamonds, and made from quartz, platinum, and orthoclase, garnered the highest bid for any single egg. It was sold by Christies in 2002 for $9.6 million to a private collector on Qatar.

(Click on images to enlarge)

Atheists Don’t Have No Songs

Steve Martin and The Steep Canyon Rangers

(h/t Bluegal aka Fran)

On This Day In History April 7

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.

April 7 is the 97th day of the year (98th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 268 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1948, The World Health Organization is founded. WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on April 7, 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the original agencies of the United Nations, its constitution formally coming into force on the first World Health Day, (April 7, 1948), when it was ratified by the 26th member state. Jawaharlal Nehru, a major freedom fighter of India had given an opinion to start WHO. Prior to this its operations, as well as the remaining activities of the League of Nations Health Organization, were under the control of an Interim Commission following an International Health Conference in the summer of 1946. The transfer was authorized by a Resolution of the General Assembly. The epidemiological service of the French Office International d’Hygiène Publique was incorporated into the Interim Commission of the World Health Organization on January 1, 1947.


Apart from coordinating international efforts to control outbreaks of infectious disease, such as SARS, malaria, tuberculosis, influenza, and HIV/AIDS, the WHO also sponsors programmes to prevent and treat such diseases. The WHO supports the development and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, pharmaceutical diagnostics, and drugs. After over two decades of fighting smallpox, the WHO declared in 1980, that the disease had been eradicated – the first disease in history to be eliminated by human effort. The WHO aims to eradicate polio within the next few years.

The organization develops and promotes the use of evidence-based tools, norms and standards to support Member States to inform health policy options. It regularly publishes a World Health Report including an expert assessment of a specific global health topic. The organization has published tools for monitoring the capacity of national health systems and health workforces to meet population health needs, and endorsed the world’s first official HIV/AIDS Toolkit for Zimbabwe (from 3 October 2006), making it an international standard.

In addition, the WHO carries out various health-related campaigns – for example, to boost the consumption of fruits and vegetables worldwide and to discourage tobacco use. The organization relies on the expertise and experience of many world-renowned scientists and professionals to inform its work. Experts met at the WHO headquarters in Geneva in February, 2007, and reported that their work on pandemic influenza vaccine development had achieved encouraging progress. More than 40 clinical trials have been completed or are ongoing. Most have focused on healthy adults. Some companies, after completing safety analysis in adults, have initiated clinical trials in the elderly and in children. All vacciness so far appear to be safe and well-tolerated in all age groups tested.

The WHO also promotes the development of capacities in Member States to use and produce research that addresses national needs, by bolstering national health research systems and promoting knowledge translation platforms such as the Evidence Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet). WHO and its regional offices are working to develop regional policies on research for health – the first one being the Pan American Health Organization/Regional Office for the Americas (PAHO/AMRO) that had its Policy on Research for Health approved in September 2009 by its 49th Directing Council Document CD 49.10.

WHO also conducts health research in communicable diseases, non-communicable conditions and injuries; for example, longitudinal studies on ageing to determine if the additional years we live are in good or poor health, and, whether the electromagnetic field surrounding cell phones has an impact on health. Some of this work can be controversial, as illustrated by the April, 2003, joint WHO/FAO report, which recommended that sugar should form no more than 10% of a healthy diet. This report led to lobbying by the sugar industry against the recommendation, to which the WHO/FAO responded by including in the report the statement “The Consultation recognized that a population goal for free sugars of less than 10% of total energy is controversial”, but also stood by its recommendation based upon its own analysis of scientific studies.

The World Health Organization’s suite of health studies is working to provide the needed health and well-being evidence through a variety of data collection platforms, including the World Health Survey covering 308,000 respondents aged 18+ years and 81,000 aged 50+ years from 70 countries and the Study on Global Aging and Adult Health (SAGE) covering over 50,000 persons aged 50+ across almost 23 countries. The World Mental Health Surveys, WHO Quality of Life Instrument, WHO Disability Assessment Scales provide guidance for data collection in other health and health-related areas. Collaborative efforts between WHO and other agencies, such as the Health Metrics Network and the International Household Surveys Network, serve the normative functions of setting high research standards.

WHO has also worked on global initiatives in surgery such as the Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care and the Guidelines for Essential Trauma Care focussed on access and quality. Safe Surgery Saves Lives addresses the safety of surgical care. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist is in current use worldwide in the effort to improve safety in surgical patients.

Popular Culture (Music) 20120406: Love Songs

Love songs are a huge part of popular music, and have been since liturgical music lost its primary place.  I certainly shall not try to cover centuries worth of love songs, but rather just give a few that I particularly like.

We shall cover the mid 1950s to the fairly recent era.  Since I have not kept up with popular music for some years, I leave it to readers to contribute more recent contributions.