08/11/2012 archive

Perseids 2012

The Perseids are the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle and stretch all the way around its 130 year orbit because it’s falling apart.  First historically recorded about 2,000 years ago the main current debris source is a chunk that fell off more or less 1,000 years later and a stream from 1862.  This year’s display is expected to be exceptionally active because of the numeric density of the material the Earth will pass through.

Perseid meteor shower: NASA explains why it’ll be the year’s best

By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times

August 10, 2012

But the Perseid meteor shower is only part of the treat in store for stargazers, NASA says.

“The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up right in the middle of the [Perseid] display,” NASA says. Specifically, “Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon are gathering together just as the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.”

The red giant star Aldebaran will also be visible, “adding a splash of color to the gathering,” NASA says.

The three celestial orbs will make for a brilliant, three-point line in the sky, all surrounded by shooting stars. The display is expected to be best seen in the eastern skies and in the early morning hours before sunrise.

The show will get better as the weekend winds down. Early Monday, the increasingly narrowing moon will pass even closer to Venus, as Jupiter “hovers” overhead, according to NASA.

“Star-watchers say there’s nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent moon and Venus. Nothing that is, except for the crescent moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids.”

Viewing conditions might not be the best, especially in the Northeast, but should get better by sunrise.

Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight, best places to view it

David Epstein, Boston.com

August 11, 2012

Much of Texas, the Ohio Valley, Tennessee, the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi and the Rockies look to have favorable sky conditions. parts of Florida and a good deal of the West Coast will also be mainly clear.

If you live where it is expected to be cloudy, like here in the northeast, it is still worth looking up later tonight. Last evening we had big thunderstorms in the area but early this morning it cleared enough to see some of the meteors in the Massachusetts area. The same thing could very easily happen across the northeast later tonight.

On Saturday the 11th, leading into the 12th, expect about 25-60 meteors per hour. You won’t see the meteors evenly spread out over time. You may see nothing for five minutes and then four or more in a row a minute later. Lie on a blanket and look up rather than stand. If you stand with your neck tilted up, you will have neck issues in the morning. On Sunday night, heading into the morning of the 13th there will be fewer meteors per hour, but still a nice show. The best time to see this will be around 2AM-3AM, but if you don’t want to wait till then it’s still worthwhile once it gets dark.

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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

A Provençal Reunion, With Vegetables at the Center of the Plate


Last month I had a reunion in Provence with friends who discovered this magical region of France with me more than 30 years ago. It was a true southern French vacation – we relaxed, we went to the market, we cooked. Market stalls were piled high with summer squash, tomatoes and eggplant, green beans – both regular ones and the flat ones that we call romano beans and that my Provençal market labeled cocos – onions of all kinds, braids of plump pink garlic, and leeks. [..]

When you’re summering in Provence, it’s easy to put vegetables seasoned with the thyme, rosemary and savory that grows everywhere at the center of your plate every day. But it’s also easy to do that here.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Salade Niçoise With Yogurt Vinaigrette

The market tomatoes, green beans, peppers, cucumbers and lettuces were irresistible, and we would have been happy to dine on this iconic Provençal salad every day.

Farro Salad With Tomatoes and Romano Beans

A variety of wheat berry called petit épeautre is one of the traditional grains in the inland Provençal regions. It’s like farro but slightly softer.

Elizabeth’s Braised Leeks With Parmesan

The leeks are braised in wine and water or stock until soft and golden, then topped with Parmesan and run under a broiler, so you get a crunchy layer on top of soft cooked leeks.

Sabine’s Stuffed Zucchini Flowers

You can use the same filling for stuffed tomatoes. The bread is soaked in milk, so if you have some stale bread lying around, this is a great use for it.

Risotto With Eggplant and Tomatoes

You could make a different dish with tomatoes and eggplant every day of the summer in Provence.

Random Japan



Two women in western Japan are suing the operator of a yoga studio for threatening them with possession by evil spirits if they didn’t fork over millions of yen. They’re being supported in their efforts by the delightfully named National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales.

A professor at Keio University has developed a robot that can pass along the sensation of the things it touches to human hands.

A trio of climbers was arrested for attempting to scale Nachi Falls in Wakayama Prefecture. The falls and a nearby shrine are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, which led the head of the shrine to say the stunt was “an insult to our religion.”

Meanwhile, a delegation from UNESCO will travel to Gunma to judge whether the Tomioka silk mill is worthy of World Heritage status. The mill was established by the government way back in 1872.

XXX Olympiad- Day 18

Well, I’m almost sure you’re not up to watch Taekwondo.

UConn Huskies

UConn Husky, symbol of might to the foe.

Fight, fight Connecticut, It’s vict’ry, Let’s go. (go. go. go)

Connecticut UConn Husky,

Do it again for the White and Blue

So go--go--go Connecticut, Connecticut U.


Connecticut, Conneticut Husky, Connecticut Husky

Connecticut C-O-N-N-U!

C’mon, sing along.  You know you want to.

Broadcast Schedule

Time Network Sport Competitors
8 am Vs. Taekwondo (Finals and Qualifying) (Medal) all
10 am NBC Canoe/Kayak (Last call, Flatwater Men’s 200m K-1 & 2, C-1, Women’s 200m K-1 Finals) (Medal) all
10 am vs. Men’s Football (Final) (Medal) BRA v MEX
10 am MS Modern Pentathlon (Fencing & Swimming) all
10:30 am MS Men’s Field Hockey (Bronze) (Medal) AUS v GBR
10:30 am NBC Women’s Volleyball (Bronze) (Medal) KOR v JPN
noon Vs. Track & Field (Women’s 20km Walk) (Medal) all
noon MS Women’s Basketball (Bronze) (Medal) AUS v RUS
12:30 pm NBC Cycling (Women’s Mountain Bike) (Medal) all
1 pm NBC Rhythmic Gymnastics (Individual Final) (Medal) all
1:30 pm MS Modern Pentathlon (Riding, Combined) (Medal) all
2 pm NBC Cycling (Women’s Mountain Bike) (Medal) all
2 pm Vs. Women’s Handball (Medal) KOR v ESP
2 pm NBC Wrestling (60kg, 84kg, 120kg Freestyle) all
2 pm MS Taekwondo (Men’s 80kg, Women’s 67kg) all
2:30 pm NBC Cycling (Women’s Mountain Bike) (Medal) all
3 pm NBC Retrospective Special
3 pm MS Men’s Field Hockey (Final) (Medal) NED v GER
3:30 pm Vs. Women’s Handball (Final) (Medal) NOR v MNE
3:30 pm CNBC Boxing (Men’s Finals, Light Fly, Bantam, Light Welter, Middle, Heavyweight) (Medal) all
4 pm NBC Women’s Basketball (Final) (Medal) USA v FRA
5:30 pm Vs. Taekwondo (Final) (Medal) all
8 pm NBC Prime Time (Track & Field (Men’s 4x100m and Women’s 4x400m Final), Diving (Men’s Platform Final), Women’s Volleyball Final) (Medal) all
12:30 am NBC Late Night (Wrestling Men’s Freestyle 60kg, 84kg, 120kg Final) (Medal) all
1:30 am NBC Prime Time repeat
3 am CNBC Boxing repeat

All this is sourced through the NBC Olympics broadcast schedule.  Last  Day of competition starts at 6 am tomorrow.  

Competitions designated by (Medal) will award winners that day.  ‘all’ means not specified.  Sometimes NBC especially does mashups and doesn’t include event or competitor information.  Elimination means no round robin, one and done.

These schedules are a place for you to make sure you don’t miss a sport you like and share your observations.  Have fun today!

Olympic losers – the misery of past hosts

Lee Wellings, Al Jazeera

August 6, 2012

The most senior Australian member of the International Olympic Committee, former Olympian Kevin Gosper has said the failure to win gold medals results from cuts to government funding of Olympic sports in 2009.

‘You’ve got to put money in there. That pays for coaches, it pays for international competition. It’s the difference between gold and silver.’

But Australia are not the only nation suffering funding cuts in these austere times.

Spain’s Olympics so far has been grim – 39th in the medal table at the time of writing. I’ve seen and spoken to Spanish supporters in the Olympic Park and spirits remain high amongst people whose football team dominate the world.

At these Olympics their football team was eliminated without scoring a goal – summing up their first 10 days at the Games where no golds and just three medals came their way.

Which brings us to Greece. Hosts eight years ago they have just two bronzes to show for their efforts so far and are out of the top 50 in the medals table. They brought a team weakened to just over 100 members by the crippling economic problems and their modest performances are completely unsurprising.

So bad were their finances after the Athens games that the IOC have had to acknowledge the part of the Olympics in their demise. They told me the problems in Greece are less than two per cent because of them hosting. Less than two per cent of Greece’s debt amounts to a big problem.

Greece, Spain, Australia. Three of the last five Olympic hosts with one gold between them.

It’s a warning to governments in any host nation from Britain to Brazil.

The Elusive Economic Lift of the Olympics

By JOSHUA MILLS, The New York Times

August 10, 2012

Playing host to the Olympics rarely turns out to be an economic benefit for a country or city, and sports economists have convincingly documented how silly the expectations sometimes are, as Nick Watanabe of the University of Missouri did with regard to the London Games (“Yeah, so if we don’t include costs, there is a profit”).

Part of the faulty calculation is a disposition to focus on revenue and ignore many of the costs – particularly the indirect ones, needed to address increases in traffic and thus pollution; crime, littering and so on.

When the Bloomberg administration was pushing hard for New York City to get the 2012 Games, it insisted that a new Olympic stadium would need to be built on Manhattan’s West Side – despite the presence in the metro area of three major stadiums. It also wanted to build a multimillion-dollar equestrian arena on Staten Island (which would be used for what after the Olympics?) despite the presence of Belmont and three other horse-racing tracks.

Chicago, with the enthusiastic support of Barack Obama, pushed for the 2016 Olympics, and its officials said a new Olympic stadium was needed, despite two major-league baseball stadiums and Soldier Field, a football stadium (home of the Chicago Bears) that was recently renovated.

Another piece of the faulty calculation of Olympic benefits is they often fail to acknowledge the displacement of other economic activity. The Greek government and Greek businesses invested billions of dollars to hold the 2004 Games – and while they drew full houses, tourism in Greece was down for the year, because so many people stayed away and many promised improvements were never made (though Athens did gain a much-needed subway system).

In effect, rather than creating new economic activity, spending is shifted from one segment to another. Sports economists have been documenting this for decades.

And that’s to say nothing of the cost overruns that come with almost every major construction project and the upkeep needed in subsequent years to keep athletics facilities clean, safe and functional. Sydney is spending millions each year. The wonderful velodrome built in London will undoubtedly be used by cyclists – but how many and how often and at what cost?

As public schools are increasing class sizes and dropping music and arts programs, firehouses are being closed and infrastructure is failing, how does being the host of the Olympic Games makes economic sense?

On This Day In History August 11

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.

August 11 is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 142 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, the first Federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz.

A group of federal prisoners classified as “most dangerous” arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay. The convicts–the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security penitentiary–joined a few dozen military prisoners left over from the island’s days as a U.S. military prison.

Alcatraz was an uninhabited seabird haven when it was explored by Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. He named it Isla de los Alcatraces, or “Island of the Pelicans.” Fortified by the Spanish, Alcatraz was sold to the United States in 1849. In 1854, it had the distinction of housing the first lighthouse on the coast of California. Beginning in 1859, a U.S. Army detachment was garrisoned there, and from 1868 Alcatraz was used to house military criminals. In addition to recalcitrant U.S. soldiers, prisoners included rebellious Indian scouts, American soldiers fighting in the Philippines who had deserted to the Filipino cause, and Chinese civilians who resisted the U.S. Army during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1907, Alcatraz was designated the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison.

In 1934, Alcatraz was fortified into a high-security federal penitentiary designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S. penal system, especially those with a penchant for escape attempts. The first shipment of civilian prisoners arrived on August 11, 1934. Later that month, more shiploads arrived, featuring, among other convicts, infamous mobster Al Capone. In September, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, another luminary of organized crime, landed on Alcatraz.

By decision of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963. It was closed because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta), half a century of salt water saturation  had severely eroded the buildings, and the bay was being badly polluted by the sewage from the approximately 250 inmates and 60 Bureau of Prisons families on the island. The United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, a traditional land-bound prison, opened that same year to serve as a replacement for Alcatraz.

The entire Alcatraz Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1993, the National Park Service published a plan entitled Alcatraz Development Concept and Environmental Assessment.  This plan, approved in 1980, doubled the amount of Alcatraz accessible to the public to enable visitors to enjoy its scenery and bird, marine, and animal life, such as the California slender salamander.

Today American Indian groups such as the International Indian Treaty Council hold ceremonies on the island, most notably, their “Sunrise Gatherings” every Columbus and Thanksgiving Day.

Popular Culture 20120810: Jethro Tull, the Beginning

One of the most complicated bands in many ways is the British band Jethro Tull.  They are complicated in their music, extremely complicated in their personnel, and almost mind bogglingly complicated in insofar as why I adore a limited set of their work and either care not a fig or actually dislike the rest.  I have such a love/hate relationship for any other band.

I do not understand why I feel this way, but I do.  At their best, they are superb.  When they are a bit off they are still better than most bands, but the material that I dislike is just awful, at least in my view.

This is why it has taken me so long to get started with this series.  I generally try to write about things that I have unambiguous feelings, usually bands that I really like.  Sometimes I write about horrible acts, like Ray Stevens, who really never did anything of real merit.  But to write about a band that can move me greatly with some material and with other material make me say, “What IS that?” is quite different.  Please bear with me!