07/14/2012 archive

Random Japan



   A Japanese man who claims he’s being defamed by Google’s autocomplete function filed suit against the US-based tech giant in Tokyo. The suit says that entering the man’s name into a search bar leads to a display of candidate words “evoking criminal acts.”

   A Tokyo man who’s upset at DoCoMo’s decision to end its mova 2G service was arrested for placing 964 phonecalls to one of the carrier’s shops in Chiyoda-ku between December and February. The man also visited the store, “yelling angrily and begging for continuation of the service.”

   A huge dock that was set loose by the March 11 tsunami washed up on the coast of Oregon-along with “hundreds of millions of individual organisms, including a tiny species of crab, a species of algae, and a little starfish, all native to Japan.” US scientists are describing the potentially invasive species as a “very clear threat.”

   Proving that a fondness for bureaucratic regulation runs deep in Japanese culture, archaeologists in Fukuoka unearthed strips of wood dating from the 7th century that are believed to be the earliest known evidence of a family registry system.

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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Fruit by the Frozen Spoonful

Melon Sorbet

I’ve learned a lot about making sorbets from Jacquy Pfeiffer, the founder and dean of student affairs at the French Pastry School in Chicago. He taught me to use a small amount of corn syrup – about 5 percent of the weight of the fruit – to prevent the sorbet from developing ice crystals. A very small amount of honey will also work. I asked him what the least sugar I could get away with is, and he said it depends on the fruit, but as a general rule he uses 15 to 20 percent sugar. I decided to factor the corn syrup and honey into that weight, and my sorbets were beautiful, with great texture.

If you want to use less sugar, the solution for frozen fruit ices would be to make granitas, which by definition have ice crystals. When you make a granita, you freeze the blended fruit mixture in a pan, scraping it with a fork at 30-minute intervals as ice crystals begin to develop around the edges, until it is all frozen but not in a solid block. Any of this week’s recipes can be made as granitas with less sugar.

~Marthe Rose Shulman~

Melon Sorbet

You can use yellow or green melon for this as long as it’s really ripe and sweet.

Raspberry Rose Sorbet

Rose water, found in Middle Eastern markets, adds nuance to this smooth sorbet.

Plum Sorbet or Granita

Infused with wine and spices, this is a sophisticated frozen dessert.

Fig Sorbet

What this sorbet lacks in visual appeal it makes up for in flavor.

Watermelon Sorbet or Granita

Little sugar is needed for this dish if your watermelon is juicy and sweet.

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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Ezra Klein: 14 reasons why this is the worst Congress ever

This week, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. On its own, such a vote would be unremarkable. Republicans control the House, they oppose President Obama’s health reform law, and so they voted to get rid of it.

But here’s the punchline: This was the 33rd time they voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Holding that vote once makes sense. Republicans had promised that much during the 2010 campaign. But 33 times? If doing the same thing twice and expecting a different result makes you insane, what does doing the same thing 33 times and expecting a different result make you?

Well, it makes you the 112th Congress.

Hating on Congress is a beloved American tradition. Hence Mark Twain’s old joke, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” But the 112th Congress is no ordinary congress. It’s a very bad, no good, terrible Congress. It is, in fact, one of the very worst congresses we have ever had. Here, I’ll prove it: [..]

New York Times Editorial: What They Knew

As the Barclays rate-rigging scandal threatens to engulf other big banks, politicians in Washington and London are asking whether regulators allowed years of manipulation of benchmark interest rates that are tied to trillions of dollars of loans and other transactions worldwide. The answer is hiding in plain sight.

The rate-rigging settlement last month between Barclays and the Department of Justice includes a litany of findings that each side agrees are “true and accurate.” The document says that, in late 2007 and in 2008, Barclays employees raised concerns with the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other officials that Barclays and the other banks involved in setting the key London interbank offered rate, or Libor, were reporting rates that “were too low” and did not accurately reflect the market. It also said that Barclays told regulators it wanted to report “honest rates” and would if other banks did, too.

How did the regulators respond? According to the settlement, the communications from Barclays “were not intended and were not understood as disclosures through which Barclays self-reported misconduct to authorities.”

Richard (RJ) Eskow: If Bankers Took Steroids or Made Knockoff Handbags, They’d Clean Up Wall Street Tomorrow

If only. If only Brian Moynihan designed fashionable shoes, Jamie Dimon pitched a mean slider, and Lloyd Blankfein had written the song “Boyfriend” for Justin Bieber. Then they’d prosecute bank fraud.

The Justice Department used as many people to investigate one baseball player as it’s doing to pursuing Wall Street housing fraud. It has coordinated fifteen federal agencies to seize counterfeit goods worth $178 million, yet all but ignored a bankers’ crime wave which cost the global economy trillions.

Our largest (and, lest we forget, taxpayer-rescued) banks have already paid tens of billions of dollars to settle civil and criminal charges — and now there’s LIBOR. Yet there have been no arrests for a well-documented litany of charges which includes bribery, perjury, forgery, investor fraud, consumer fraud, and money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels.

Robert Reich: The Selling of American Democracy: The Perfect Storm

Who’s buying our democracy? Wall Street financiers, the Koch brothers, and casino magnates Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

And they’re doing much of it in secret.

It’s a perfect storm:

The greatest concentration of wealth in more than a century — courtesy “trickle-down” economics, Reagan and Bush tax cuts, and the demise of organized labor.

Combined with…

Unlimited political contributions — courtesy of Republican-appointed Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy, in one of the dumbest decisions in Supreme Court history, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, along with lower-court rulings that have expanded it.

Combined with…

Roger Brabury: A World Without Coral Reefs

IT’S past time to tell the truth about the state of the world’s coral reefs, the nurseries of tropical coastal fish stocks. They have become zombie ecosystems, neither dead nor truly alive in any functional sense, and on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation. There will be remnants here and there, but the global coral reef ecosystem – with its storehouse of biodiversity and fisheries supporting millions of the world’s poor – will cease to be.

Overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution are pushing coral reefs into oblivion. Each of those forces alone is fully capable of causing the global collapse of coral reefs; together, they assure it. The scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal, but there seems to be a collective reluctance to accept the logical conclusion – that there is no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem.

Doug Glanville: I Am What I Throw

Every year, my family honors my father with a scholarship given out in his memory to the best students from a church in my hometown, Teaneck, N.J. I always think about what to say to these young student-recipients, and it turns out the best inspiration comes from my dad’s own words. One of my favorite lines of his was “How you do one thing is how you do everything.” And that line now makes me think of the Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey.

La Marseillaise

(an annual tradition)

Arise, children of the Fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us of the tyranny

The bloody banner is raised,

The bloody banner is raised,

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They’re coming right into your arms

To slit the throats your sons and your companions!


To arms, citizens,

Form your battalions,

Let’s march, let’s march!

That tainted blood

Water our furrows!

What does this horde of slaves,

Of traitors and conjured kings want?

For whom are these vile chains,

These long-prepared irons?

These long-prepared irons?

Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage

What fury it must arouse!

It is us they dare plan

To return to the old slavery!

Aux armes, citoyens…

What! Foreign cohorts

Would make the law in our homes!

What! These mercenary phalanxes

Would strike down our proud warriors!

Would strike down our proud warriors!

Great God ! By chained hands

Our brows would yield under the yoke

Vile despots would have themselves

The masters of our destinies!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Tremble, tyrants and you traitors

The shame of all parties,

Tremble! Your parricidal schemes

Will finally receive their reward!

Will finally receive their reward!

Everyone is a soldier to combat you

If they fall, our young heroes,

The earth will produce new ones,

Ready to fight against you!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,

You bear or hold back your blows!

You spare those sorry victims,

Who arm against us with regret.

Who arm against us with regret.

But not these bloodthirsty despots,

These accomplices of Bouillé,

All these tigers who, mercilessly,

Rip their mother’s breast!

Aux armes, citoyens…

Sacred love of the Fatherland,

Lead, support our avenging arms

Liberty, cherished Liberty,

Fight with thy defenders!

Fight with thy defenders!

Under our flags, shall victory

Hurry to thy manly accents,

That thy expiring enemies,

See thy triumph and our glory!

Aux armes, citoyens…

(Children’s Verse)

We shall enter in the (military) career

When our elders are no longer there,

There we shall find their dust

And the trace of their virtues

And the trace of their virtues

Much less jealous to survive them

Than to share their coffins,

We shall have the sublime pride

Of avenging or following them

Aux armes, citoyens…

On This Day In History July 14

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

July 14 is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 170 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1790, the citizens of Paris celebrate the constitutional monarchy and national reconciliation in the Fête de la Fédération.

The Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790 was a huge feast and official event to celebrate the establishment of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and what people of the time considered to be the happy conclusion of the French Revolution, the outcome hoped for by the monarchiens.

The Fête de la Fédération in Paris was the most prominent event of a series of spontaneous celebrations all over France: from August 1789, Fédérations appeared in towns and countryside; on 5 June 1790, with lots of individual feasts to celebrate the new state of France, a constitutional monarchy. The National Assembly approved the suggestion by the Commune de Paris to organise a “general Federation”. Organised late, it was largely an improvisation. The idea was not to contest the legitimacy of the king Louis XVI, but to show the general will for stable institutions and a national reconciliation and unity. In the words of Jean Sylvain Bailly, astronomer and mayor of Paris: “We suggest that this meeting (…) be sworn on the next 14 July, which we shall all see as the time of liberty: this day shall be spent swearing to uphold and defend it”. Charon, President of the Commune of Paris, stated: “French, we are free! French, we are brothers!”.

The event took place on the Champ de Mars, which was at the time far outside Paris. The place had been transformed on a voluntary basis by the population of Paris itself, in what was recalled as the Journée des brouettes (“Wheelbarrow Day”).

Official Celebration

The feast began as early as four in the morning, under a strong rain which would last the whole day (the Journal de Paris had predicted “frequent downpours”).

14 000 Federated (Fédérés) came from the province, every single National Guard unit having sent two men out of every hundred. They were ranged according to their département under 83 banners. They were brought to the place were the Bastille once stood, and went through Saint-Antoine, Saint-Denis and Saint-Honoré streets before crossing the temporary bridge and arriving at the Champ de Mars. Deputies from other nations, “Swedes, Spaniards, Polacks, Turks, Chaldeans, Greeks, and dwellers in Mesopotamia,” representatives of the human race, “with three hundred drummers, twelve hundred wind-musicians, and artillery planted on height after height to boom the tidings all over France, the highest recorded triumph of the Thespian art.”

A mass was celebrated by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun under the Ancien Régime. The very popular General marquis de La Fayette, as both captain of the National Guard of Paris and confident of the king, took his oath to the Constitution:

” We swear forever to be faithful to the Nation, to the Law and to the King, to uphold with all our might the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by the King, and to protect according to the laws the safety of people and properties, transit of grains and food within the kingdom, the public contributions under whatever forms they might exist, and to stay united with all the French with the indestructible bounds of brotherhood[ ”

It is noticeable that at this time, the French Constitution of 1791 was not yet written; it would only take effect in September 1791. La Fayette was followed by the President of the National Assembly. Eventually, Louis XVI took his oath

” I, King of the French, I swear to use the power given to me by the constitutional law of the State, to maintain the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by myself, and to enforce the laws. ”

The style “King of the French”, used for the first time instead of “King of France (and Navarre)”, was an innovation intended to inaugurate a “popular monarchy” which linked the monarch’s title to the people, not to the territory of France.

The Queen rose and showed the Dauphin, future Louis XVII, saying :

” This is my son, who, like me, joins in the same sentiments.[5] ”

With the permission of the National Assembly, a delegation of the United States of America, led by John Paul Jones, founder of the US Navy, joined the feast. It also included Thomas Paine, James Swan, Georges Howell, Benjamin Jarvis, Samuel Blackden, Joel Barlow and William Henry Vernon. The delegation arrived at the Champ de Mars with its flag, the first instance ever of a US flag flown outside of the USA, and was cheered by the people.

2012 Le Tour – Stage 13

Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux / Le Cap d’Agde (135 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Oh I’m sure it looked exciting with the 5 rider break away and the 4th British stage winner and all, but it was much less than it seemed and the last Mountain stage before the Pyrenees.

This is a Sprinter’s stage, a hot, flat, humid ride by the Med punctuated by an Award point and a category 3 climb at the end.  I can’t see that it will change much anymore than yesterday’s results did.

Today is Bastile Day, a traditional time for French riders to try and make some noise.

General Classification

Place Rider Team Time/Delta
2 FROOME Christopher SKY PROCYCLING +02:05
10 PINOT Thibaut FDJ-BIGMAT +08:51

Coverage is customarily on Vs. (NBC Sports) starting at 8 am with repeats at noon, 2:30 pm, 8 pm, and midnight.  There will be some streaming evidently, but not all of it is free.

Sites of Interest-

The Stars Hollow Gazette Tags-

Popular Culture 20120713: Random Thoughts

I am not quite ready to start another long series about music just yet, but probably will begin next week.  Due to popular request, Jethro Tull will be the focus when we do get started on that.  I promised something lighter than last week, so here are a few random thoughts about my likes and dislikes in popular culture, past and present.

First of all, today is Friday the 13th.  I am not superstitious, but many folks are.  Not as many as in the past, but still many are.  Interestingly, friggatriskaidekaphobia is of quite recent origin, not being much noticed until late in the 19th century.  Reasons to be afraid of this combination of date and day are quite nonscientific.

Friday has been considered an unlucky day for a long time.  The reasons for this are unclear, but Chaucer mentioned it in the 14th century.  Twelve has always been considered a “good” number (we still use dozens, have twelve hours for each half of the day, and many other examples) and 13 is thus imperfect, and a prime number as well.  One popular idea is that because of Judas, 13 (including Christ) at a table is bad luck.  A similar idea also appears in Norse mythology.  Actually, the numbers 2 and 8 have a more scientific basis for being “good”, since they describe the number of electrons required to acquire the noble gas configuration in the elements.  In any event, I consider any Friday the 13th just another day.