05/12/2012 archive

Random Japan



       From the “Only in Japan” file: A column in The Japan Times mentioned that many pet groomers in this country now offer “claw decoration,” i.e., having your dog’s nails done. One “dog beauty artist” in Tokyo charges between ¥3,000 and ¥5,000 for all four paws. Apparently, a common request is for dog and owner to get matching nail art.

   Good news for cat lovers. Cat cafés, where customers can “mingle freely with felines in a relaxed atmosphere,” might not have to abide by new Ministry of Environment regulations that limit the hours pets can be displayed (8am-8pm). It’s all part of a plan to reduce the stress level of animals at pet shops.

   And a bit of good news for bald mice, as well. Researchers from the Tokyo University of Science have reportedly been successful in efforts to grow hair on hairless rodents. It’s tough enough to find a mate when you’re at the bottom of the vermin totem pole, but when you’re bald, too…

   Another group of some ten protesters went on a hunger strike in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to show their displeasure over the government’s plan to restart nuclear reactors at the Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

   A Yokohama court gave a “spiritual salon” manager a suspended sentence after finding her guilty of fraud. The 48-year-old woman committed a “clever and malicious crime that took advantage of people’s worries about health and work to scam them out of money.”

   Police were investigating the case of a severed wire in a wing of a Boeing 787 produced at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Nagoya. The cut appears to have been intentional and is similar to other cases in 2002 and 2009.

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.

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Turning Up the Heat on Lettuce


   I decided to devote most of the recipes this week to dishes that involve cooking lettuce. I couldn’t resist one simple romaine and radish salad, but the rest of the dishes are cooked. I used the tough outer leaves of romaine or leaf lettuce in blended sauces and entire heads in soups. I tested several classic French braised lettuce recipes, but as promising as these looked on paper, they didn’t appeal to me nearly as much as the more vibrant Chinese stir-fried lettuce dishes I tried, or the puréed soups. In the French braised dishes, the life seemed to be cooked out of the lettuces.

   I used sturdy lettuces like romaine and leaf lettuce for the cooked dishes, not tender spring mixes, which really should be dedicated to salads. Bitter lettuces with tough outer leaves, like curly endive (a k a escarole or chicory) and Batavia, stand up to cooking the same way greens like kale do. Use the recipes not only when you have a surfeit of lettuce in your C.S.A. basket, but also for the tough outer leaves of the one head of romaine in your fridge that you don’t want to include in your salads.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Green Mole With Chicken

A warm sauce featuring tomatillos and lettuce gives tender poached chicken a Mexican accent.

Stir-Fried Lettuce With Seared Tofu and Red Pepper

If you’ve got too much lettuce on hand, put the salad dressing away and try stir-frying it.

Romaine and Radish Salad With Buttermilk Lemon Dressing

A tangy, creamy dressing cuts the bite of the radishes and the mild bitterness of the romaine.

White Beans With Chicory

Puréed fava beans and cooked chicory are a classic pairing in Italy; for this version, almost any kind of hearty bitter lettuce will work.

Lettuce and Green Garlic Soup

Use a flavorful broth – chicken or vegetable – to enhance the subtle flavors in this thick, comforting soup.

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”.

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Paul Krugman: Obama Campaign Lacks Focus

Edward Luce says what many of us have been thinking: there’s a dangerous lack of focus in the Obama campaign, all too reminiscent of previous episodes.

Mr. Luce, a columnist at the Financial Times, wrote on April 22: “In the absence of a lift-off, Mr. Obama will be vulnerable to the question Reagan posed to voters in 1980 when he turned Jimmy Carter into a one-term president: ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ Mr. Carter had no real comeback. Mr. Obama is still struggling to find his.”

Above all, President Obama isn’t telling a clear story about the economy.

Robert Reich: Of Bedrooms and Boardrooms

The 2012 election should be about what’s going on in America’s boardrooms, but Republicans would rather it be about America’s bedrooms.

Mitt Romney says he’s against same-sex marriage; President Obama just announced his support. North Carolina voters have approved a Republican-proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. Minnesota voters will be considering a similar amendment in November. Republicans in Maryland and Washington State are seeking to overturn legislative approval of same-sex marriage there.

Meanwhile, Republicans have introduced over four hundred bills in state legislatures aimed at limiting womens’ reproductive rights – banning abortions, requiring women seeking abortions to have invasive ultra-sound tests beforehand, and limiting the use of contraceptives.

The Republican bedroom crowd doesn’t want to talk about the nation’s boardrooms because that’s where most of their campaign money comes from. And their candidate for president has made a fortune playing board rooms like checkers.

Joe Nocera: When Will They Learn?

“It plays right into the hands of a bunch of pundits out there,” sighed Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, on Thursday. [..]

In his conference call, Dimon claimed that the disastrous hedging strategy had not violated the Volcker Rule. Rather, he said, it violated the “Dimon principle.” By which he meant, I think, that it was an example of the kind of dumb risk-taking that JPMorgan usually avoids.

But that’s just the point, isn’t it? Even at a bank as ostensibly well-run as JPMorgan, the incentives still exist for giant, risky bets to be made that can go very wrong. JPMorgan can withstand a $2 billion hit, but not every bank can – and who’s to say that the next derivatives debacle won’t be $5 billion or $10 billion? Jamie Dimon is undoubtedly a very good bank chieftain, but he’s only one man in a large institution; he can’t oversee every trade. The only way to change incentives industrywide – and get bank risk-taking under better control – is through a combination of tougher rules and more transparency. Which is precisely what Dodd-Frank aims to do.

Owen Jones: Shock Doctrine Opponents Revolt: The Austerity Backlash Across Europe

The truth is that the real world has paid the high priests of austerity an unwelcome visit

When I first read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine a few years ago, I had no idea how prescient the book was. It was a polemic about “disaster capitalism”, arguing that sudden crises are intentionally manipulated to push through extreme free market policies that were otherwise not politically possible. But early 2008 was a completely different era: although Northern Rock had just suffered the first bank run for 150 years, it seemed like a bizarre blip. The US sub-prime crisis was rumbling away, but it was like sheet lightning from a distant storm. “The deficit” was not an everyday term of political debate. It was not at all clear that the world was about to be utterly transformed.

And yet the past four years have proved a total vindication of Klein’s argument. A crisis of the market was cleverly transformed by free market ideologues into a crisis of public spending. Across Europe, the biggest slump since the 1930s has been used to push through policies straight out of some right-wing wet dream: the slashing of taxes on the rich and major corporations; the selling off of public services; and a bonfire of workers’ rights. It is disaster capitalism on speed.

But, this week, the great revolt against the Shock Doctrine began. That is exactly how we must understand the sudden sea change in European politics: not least, the election of Socialist François Hollande in France, and the stunning breakthrough of anti-austerity leftists in the Greek elections.

Greg Kaufman: Republicans Define ‘Heartlessness’ with Latest Budget Proposals

‘Lower-Priority Spending’ takes on new meaning as Paul Ryan and John Boehner dominate budget debate

When Republican Congressman Paul Ryan released his budget, he charged six House committees with finding $309 billion in spending cuts over ten years in order to avert $55 billion in military cuts scheduled for January 2013 under a bipartisan agreement. He wrote that these cuts would be found in “lower-priority spending.” (pdf)

On Thursday, House Republicans approved the cuts along a party-line vote, revealing exactly what they consider to be “lower-priority spending.” [..]

But for House Republicans, their preferred alternative of cutting lower-priority spending means… a $36 billion cut in food stamps (SNAP), which largely helps the elderly, disabled people, children and the working poor. Two million people would lose their benefits entirely and 44 million would have their benefits reduced-the current average benefit is $4 per person per day. Two hundred and eighty thousand low-income children would also lose automatic access to free school breakfast and lunch. The bill also cuts the SNAP employment and training program by 72 percent, making it more difficult for jobless recipients to find work. It’s important to note that SNAP kept 5 million people from poverty in 2010 and reduced poverty rates by 8 percent in 2009.

James Hansen: Game Over for the Climate

The science of the situation is clear – it’s time for the politics to follow

Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

Phyllis Bennis: We’re Fighting in a War We Lost Before the War Began

New poll shows support for Afghanistan war lower than ever, and for good reason.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, but support for the longest U.S. war is dropping further and faster than ever. The latest national U.S. poll, released on May 9, shows 66 percent of Americans are against the war in Afghanistan – with 40 percent “strongly opposed.”

We can expect to hear the usual spin, claims that it’s a hard slog but Afghans are still better off and we have to finish what we started. That only the presence of our brave troops is giving the Afghan government and military the chance to consolidate their rule. That only our troops provide the possibility for stability and security in Afghanistan. That we have to stay to protect Afghan women.

But the reality is people have watched – and paid for – this war for more than eleven years now, and some facts just can’t be spun anymore. Half of the 66 percent who oppose the war say that the presence of U.S. troops is actually hurting the people of Afghanistan more than they are helping. They’re the ones who got it right.

On This Day In History May 12

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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 12 is the 132nd day of the year (133rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 233 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1937, George Denis Patrick Carlin was born in the Bronx. He was raised by his mother in Morningside Heights which he and his friends called “White Harlem” because it sounded tougher. He was raised Irish Catholic and educated in Catholic schools. He often ran away from home. After joining the Air Force while stationed in Louisiana, Carlin became a DJ in Shreveport starting on his long career in entertainment. Carlin rose to fame during the 60’s and 70’s, generating the most controversy with his famous “Seven Dirty Words”:

Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits. Those are the heavy seven. Those are the ones that’ll infect your soul, curve your spine and keep the country from winning the war.

His arrest and the subsequent FCC rulings ended up in the Supreme Court which upheld the right of the FCC to regulate the public airways. In the ruling it called the routine “indecent but not obscene”.

In 1961, Carlin was also present in the audience the night that Lenny Bruce was arrested in San Fransisco for obscenity. He was arrested, as well, after the police, who were questioning the audience, asked Carlin for ID. He said he didn’t have any because he didn’t believe in government-issued ID’s.

We all know the rest. His popularity as a comic and “commentarian” on politics, religion and social issues made him a popular guest on late night talk shows. His death in  June 22, 2008 saddened many. He left behind his second wife, Sally Wade, whom he married after his first wife Brenda died of liver cancer in 1997. He left a daughter by his first marriage, Kelly.

Happy Birthday, George, you are missed.

Formula One: Catalunya Qualifying

Richard (my Dad) tells me that McLaren sending out their test drivers instead of their race drivers means big changes, not mere tweeking and I suppose we shall see.  They come to Barcelona with a new nose and most teams have made at least some changes though many are complaining that in-season testing is a huge waste of time.

Personally I think that attitude means your team is under-organized or capitalized or both.  If you don’t have the chance to react to innovation you might as well write off your season and if you choose not to…

Well, you’re the Washington Generals now aren’t you?

Teams and drivers are closely matched after 20% of the season with the biggest ‘surprises’ being Scuderia Marlboro (they suck and have a slow car too, the surprise is that they are doing as well as they are) and Lotus (which shouldn’t really surprise anyone since they’re the Renault team renamed).  Mercedes (Brawn) is incredibly unhappy with the new Concorde which leaves them out of the $50 Million bribe club (Red Bull, McLaren, Marlboro) and has scheduled a vote on their participation next year even though they’re showing improvement.

Schumacher is also upset with Pirelli, complaining that so much attention is going into tire wear that that it’s like “driving on raw eggs” and there’s no opportunity to test the other aspects of the cars or the aggressiveness of the drivers.  This week we are using Hards and Softs with a 1.3 second per lap differential between them and no indication yet how long they will last on track.

After the Bahrain avalanche I suppose any amount of news would seem slight and I’ll try to delve a little deeper for the race tomorrow, but they’re still fussing with setups in Practice and we won’t actually know anything until after Qualifying.

Repeat tonight at 1 am.  The actual race is a 7:30 am start tomorrow on Speed with a repeat at noon Monday.  GP2 starts at 6 am.

Surprises below.

LGBT: The Times They Are A Changin’

Yes, they are. And the change has finally struck right wing panderer Chris Matthews who finally called out Tony Perkins of the “Family Research Council” for “spreading hateful lies and junk research about the LGBT community.” On this May 10 segment of Hardball, Matthews, with the help of Rep. Barney Frank, challenged Perkins’ anti-gay misinformation, held him accountable for past statements, and demonstrated how out-of-the-mainstream his extreme positions really are:

Thank you, Mr. Matthews, for showing the rest of the media how a bigot should be treated. This is how a responsible journalist responds to hate speech.

h/t Gaius Publius at AMERICAblog

Popular Culture (Music) 20120511: Still More Moodies

I was going to take a break from this series and write about the 1969 TeeVee show Turn-On.  It aired only one episode, and some stations cut the feed during the show, and some Mountain and Pacific Time Zone stations never aired it at all.  If anyone knows where there are links to content, please let me know.  I am one of the few people to have seen the entire first (and only) episode ever to be aired.

Last time we finished up about The Moody Blues third album, In Search of the Lost Chord.  I really thought that this was a fine piece of music.  Their next album, released on 19690425 on Deram Records, it charted at #1 in the UK and at #20 in the US.  This record was really the one that locked their commercial (and artistic) success.

Whilst not as complex and the previous album (the five played only 12 instruments rather than the more than 30, although Hayward played both 6 and 12 string guitar, so the total really should be 13), it is very charming.  Whilst not a single song stands out as extraordinary, as a whole it is a marvelous piece.  Have you heard?

DocuDharma Digest