Daily Archive: 08/25/2012

Aug 25 2012

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

Sweet, Creamy Corn

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The drought that much of the nation is experiencing this summer is expected to affect the price of milk and meat because of the feed corn that these commodities rely on. But interestingly, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, shoppers are not likely to see higher prices for corn on the cob because sweet corn is not as vulnerable to drought conditions. Corn on the cob that is sold in supermarkets is an irrigated crop, like other vegetables and fruits grown on large farms. However, smaller farms that sell their produce at farmers’ markets in drought-stricken areas are having a difficult time with their yields, so you may see a spike in prices there. The season for good, fresh sweet corn is such a short one that I will pay the price for it, just as I’ll spend money on heirloom tomatoes.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Arugula, Corn and Herb Salad

Corn, lightly steamed and cut off the cob, is terrific in salads. It goes very nicely with arugula, the sweet corn providing a beautiful contrast to the pungent salad green.

Corn Pudding With Roasted Garlic and Sage

This comforting pudding has a rich, creamy texture, but the only “cream” comes from the juice of the corn kernels, which are puréed in a blender with a small amount of milk. Toasted garlic has a rich, earthy flavor.

Creamed Corn Without Cream

When you grate corn on the large holes of a box grater, you get a lot of creamy milk from the corn, so no dairy cream is necessary for this version of what is usually a very rich dish.

Creamy Corn and Poblano Soup

This is another creamy corn dish that has no cream in it – in fact, it has no dairy at all.

Tomato, Cucumber and Corn Salad

You can serve this refreshing mixture as a salad, as a topping for whole grains or as a salsa with grilled fish or chicken.

Aug 25 2012

What’s Cooking: Ice Cubes

I found this recipe “deliciously” amusing. Some of the comments are really funny and as Jeffrey Bloomer at Slate points out, no trolls:

Comment sections on websites can be nasty places, but they’re rarely more useless than they are on popular recipe sites like AllRecipes, Epicurious, and the like. [..]

So I was happy to discover that my despair over such commenting practices is widely shared-and even happier to read a perfect parody of this corner of the Internet. In a glorious recipe posted to Food.com that has been making the rounds on Twitter, a frustrated cook offers a recipe for ice cubes, noting that it may come in handy for “families who have members who don’t know how or have forgotten how to make ice when the ice tray is empty.” The rundown proceeds as expected-water, freezer-and it’s funny enough on its own: a passive-aggressive plea to refill trays that anyone can get behind.

But then the commenters get a hold of it, and the magic begins.

Enjoy

Ice Cubes

Equipment:

  • 2 Ice cube trays
  • 2 cup measuring cup (or larger)
  • 1 tablespoon
  • Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water (approximately)
  • 2 tablespoons water (additional if needed)
  • Directions:

    1 Empty the ice cubes that are left in the trays (if there are any left) into the bin.

    2 Take the trays over to the sink and fill them with cold water.

    3 Place the water filled ice trays back in the freezer.

    4 Replace the ice bin if you had to remove it.

    5 Shut the door to the freezer.

    Prep time: 2 minutes

    Cooking time: 2 to 3 hours

    Yield: 2 trays of ice cubes

    Nutritional Summery::

    Calories: 0

    Fat: 0g

    Carbs: 0g

    Protein: 0g

    Here is a sample of some of the comments:

    Chef #1408275: “This recipe is horrible! Maybe I should have left them in longer than two minutes (the recipe doesn’t say how long to leave them in the freezer so I just kind of guessed) but mine came out all watery. I won’t be making these again.”

    donquix66: “I harvest my own free-range water, so the idea of putting it in a plastic tray and a commercially made electricity-wasting freezer disgusts me. I prefer nature’s method, waiting until the temperature outside drops below freezing.”

    KMSoprano: “I’m relieved to notice in the nutritional facts that these delicious cubes are not sodium free. A touch of salt is so important to bring out just the right icy flavor. We make this fabulous recipe so often, we had to buy 30 or 40 bottles of bourbon and scotch to go with it…”

    Aug 25 2012

    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”.

    Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

    Gail Collins: Arms and the Duck

    We had a shooting near the Empire State Building. An aggrieved ex-employee of an apparel company killed his former co-worker, and was himself killed by police. Except for the famous-landmark location, it was not actually a very big story. Remember the mass shooting at the lumberyard in North Carolina earlier this year, or the one last October at the California cement plant? No? Neither does anybody else except the grieving families.

    Nine passers-by were also wounded, and it seems almost certain that some or all were accidentally hit by the police. This isn’t surprising; it’s only in movies that people are good shots during a violent encounter. In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent.

    And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.

    Sahar Aziz: Creeping Counterterrorism: From Muslims to Political Protesters

    Few Americans are surprised to hear that 9/11 shifted our domestic terrorism focus from neo-Nazis and white supremacists to Muslims in America. What may come as a surprise, however, is the pervasive use of anti-terrorism powers against non-Muslims as well, including white middle-class protesters – as we saw in the Occupy movement.

    The 9/11 terrorists’ warped misinterpretation of Islam triggered a maelstrom of expanded national security powers selectively enforced against American Muslims en masse.  Mosques are infiltrated with dubious and highly paid informants, thereby chilling religious freedom. Mentally unstable young Muslim men are targets of overzealous counterterrorism sting operations, and Muslim student associations are under mass surveillance for no apparent reason other than the religious identity of their members.  Despite the serious civil liberties implications of such selective enforcement, it has occurred with minimal opposition by the American public.

    Our shortsighted forfeiture of civil liberties based on fears of the “Muslim other” now equips our government to quash political dissent.

    New York Times Editorial: Dump It on the States

    On Thursday, Mitt Romney unveiled the latest in a series of bad ideas for taking government duties out of Washington and hiding them in the back rooms of state capitols. Mostly, Mr. Romney wants to allow states to quietly smother social programs the federal government has run for decades. In the case of his new energy policy, he wants to give states power to bypass Washington’s caution in burrowing for oil, gas and coal on federal lands.

    States, he said, could accelerate the permitting process for energy extraction, resulting in far more production than Washington has allowed. That’s probably true because many states have traditionally been poor stewards of their resources. They are far more captive than the federal government to the energy and timber interests that have long pressed for this concession and have far less oversight by government inspectors and journalists.

    No state, on its own, has an interest in preventing global climate change or reducing energy imports for strategic reasons. Those are national issues that need to be closely supervised by a government with broader interests than competing with the next state for oil leases. Bypassing those controls, which frustrates Mr. Romney and his generous supporters in the energy industry, are at the heart of his new energy policy.

    Robert Reich: Romney’s Lying Machine

    I’ve been struck by the baldness of Romney’s repetitive lies about Obama — that Obama ended the work requirement under welfare, for example, or that Obama’s Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare benefits.

    The mainstream media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Romney on these whoppers, but to no avail. He keeps making these assertions.

    Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it?

    Richard (RJ) Escow: Banker Bill Harrison’s Bogus Brief for (Broken) Big Banks

    Every day we rise and tell ourselves this will be a good day, free of that unique combination of predation, self-pity, mediocrity and disingenousness which characterizes the modern bank executive. And every day somebody proves us wrong.

    Today it’s William B. “Bill” Harrison, Jr., the retired banker who engineered the mega-merger which created JPMorgan Chase. That means the capstone of Harrison’s career was the creation of an institution that has repeatedly broken the law, deceived its customers foreclosed on homeowners with a motley crew of college-aged temps known as “the Burger King kids,” received billions in public assistance …

    … and still underperformed the Dow Jones average, dropping in stock value to $37.23 (Thursday’s closing price) from around $53 per share when it was created by Harrison in 2000.1 You’d have been better off buying Treasuries.

    If that’s your idea of a stellar resume, you will no doubt read Harrison’s defense of mega-banks in the New York Times with great anticipation, an emotion which will be followed promptly thereafter by profound disappointment. Harrison’s apologia is as mediocre in its conception, as deceptive in its packaging, as vacant in its morality and as unimpressive in its execution as JPMorgan Chase itself.

    And believe me, that’s saying something.

    Eugene Robinson: For GOP, Storm Has Already Gathered

    The uninvited participation of a hurricane at next week’s Republican convention would be superfluous. Buffeted by powerful internal winds, the party may be flooded with cash, but it’s already kind of a debris-strewn mess.

    Who would have imagined that Topic A, in the days before GOP delegates gather in Tampa, would be abortion? Certainly the thought never crossed the minds of the convention planners who intended this four-day infomercial to be a nonstop indictment of President Obama’s performance on the economy. But the old line about the relationship between the political parties and their candidates-“Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line”-is so last century. [..]

    But why does the Republican Party seek power? What does it really stand for? What does it hope to accomplish? What kind of America does it envision?

    Keep an eye on that storm track as Isaac plows toward Florida. Maybe the elusive answers to those questions are blowin’ in the wind.

    Aug 25 2012

    On This Day In History August 25

    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 25 is the 237th day of the year (238th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 128 days remaining until the end of the year.

    On this day in 1768, James Cook began his first voyage to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. This would be the first of three voyages that would be hailed as  heroic by the scientific community.

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    The routes of Captain James Cook’s voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook’s crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.

    In 1766, the Royal Society hired (James) Cook to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition. The expedition sailed from England in 1768, rounded Cape Horn and continued westward across the Pacific to arrive at Tahiti  on 13 April 1769, where the observations were to be made. However, the result of the observations was not as conclusive or accurate as had been hoped. Cook later mapped the complete New Zealand coastline, making only some minor errors. He then sailed west, reaching the south-eastern coast of the Australian continent on 19 April 1770, and in doing so his expedition became the first recorded Europeans to have encountered its eastern coastline.

    On 23 April he made his first recorded direct observation of indigenous Australians at Brush Island near Bawley Point, noting in his journal: “…and were so near the Shore as to distinguish several people upon the Sea beach they appear’d to be of a very dark or black Colour but whether this was the real colour of their skins or the C[l]othes they might have on I know not.” On 29 April Cook and crew made their first landfall on the mainland of the continent at a place now known as the Kurnell Peninsula, which he named Botany Bay after the unique specimens retrieved by the botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. It is here that James Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal tribe known as the Gweagal.

    After his departure from Botany Bay he continued northwards, and a mishap occurred when Endeavour ran aground on a shoal of the Great Barrier Reef, on 11 June, and “nursed into a river mouth on 18 June 1770.” The ship was badly damaged and his voyage was delayed almost seven weeks while repairs were carried out on the beach (near the docks of modern Cooktown, at the mouth of the Endeavour River). Once repairs were complete the voyage continued, sailing through Torres Strait and on 22 August he landed on Possession Island, where he claimed the entire coastline he had just explored as British territory. He returned to England via Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia), the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Saint Helena, arriving on 12 July 1771.

    Aug 25 2012

    Popular Culture 20120824: Jethro Tull — Aqualung

    Aqualung is the forth album by Tull and many people think that it is their best.  I favor Thick as a Brick, but it is still an excellent album.  Rumor has it that critical comments about Aqualung spawned Thick as a Brick, and we shall discuss that in a bit.

    It was released on 19710319 on Island Records in the UK and Reprise in the US.  By this time Anderson had completely taken control of the band, and all of the songs are written by him except for the title track which was cowritten by his wife at the time, Jennie.  Anderson, along with Terry Ellis, produced it.

    The band lineup was different than that of Benefit, with Jeffrey Hammond replacing replacing Glen Cornick on bass and Barriemore Barlow replacing Clive Bunker on drums.  Remember, Jethro Tull has had more personnel changes than many bands.  Otherwise the lineup was the same as on Benefit.

    Aug 25 2012

    Blowing in the Stellar Wind

    Stellar Wind  is the open secret code name for certain information collection activities performed by the United States’ National Security Agency and revealed by Thomas M. Tamm to New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau. The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

    The program’s activities involve data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.

    There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data is collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants. In March 2004, the Justice Department under Attorney General John Ashcroft ruled that the program was illegal. The day after the ruling, Ashcroft became critically ill with acute pancreatitis. President Bush sent White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card Jr. to Ashcroft’s hospital bed, where Ashcroft lay semiconscious, to request that he sign a document reversing the Justice Department’s ruling. However, Ashcroft was incapable of signing the document. Bush then reauthorized the operation, over formal Justice Department objections. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert Mueller, Acting Attorney General James Comey, and many prominent members of the Justice Department were prepared to resign over the matter. Valerie Caproni the FBI general counsel, said, “From my perspective, there was a very real likelihood of a collapse of government.” Bush subsequently reversed the authorization.

    During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. Approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but 1 percent bore fruit. One of the known uses of this data was the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former NY governor Elliot Spitzer‘s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.

    In March 2012 Wired Magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a new NSA facility and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail.” Naming the official William Binney a former NSA code breaker. Binney goes on to say that the NSA has highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at AT&T and Verizon both. [4] The article suggests that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

    The Program

    by Laura Poitras

    To those who understand state surveillance as an abstraction, I will try to describe a little about how it has affected me. The United States apparently placed me on a “watch-list” in 2006 after I completed a film about the Iraq war. I have been detained at the border more than 40 times. Once, in 2011, when I was stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and asserted my First Amendment right not to answer questions about my work, the border agent replied, “If you don’t answer our questions, we’ll find our answers on your electronics.”‘ As a filmmaker and journalist entrusted to protect the people who share information with me, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work in the United States. Although I take every effort to secure my material, I know the N.S.A. has technical abilities that are nearly impossible to defend against if you are targeted.

    The 2008 amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which oversees the N.S.A. activities, are up for renewal in December. Two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado, both Democrats, are trying to revise the amendments to insure greater privacy protections. They have been warning about “secret interpretations” of laws and backdoor “loopholes” that allow the government to collect our private communications. Thirteen senators have signed a letter expressing concern about a “loophole” in the law that permits the collection of United States data. The A.C.L.U. and other groups have also challenged the constitutionality of the law, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case on Oct. 29.

    Laura Poitras is a documentary filmmaker who has been nominated for an Academy Award and whose work was exhibited in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. She is working on a trilogy of films about post-9/11 America. This Op-Doc is adapted from a work in progress to be released in 2013.

    This video is part of a series by independent filmmakers who have received grants from the BRITDOC Foundation and the Sundance Institute.

    Who is watching the NSA?

    Giving In to the Surveillance

    by Shane Harris

    IN March 2002, John M. Poindexter, a former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, sat down with Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the National Security Agency. Mr. Poindexter sketched out a new Pentagon program called Total Information Awareness, that proposed to scan the world’s electronic information – including phone calls, e-mails and financial and travel records – looking for transactions associated with terrorist plots. The N.S.A., the government’s chief eavesdropper, routinely collected and analyzed such signals, so Mr. Poindexter thought the agency was an obvious place to test his ideas.

    He never had much of a chance. When T.I.A.’s existence became public, it was denounced as the height of post-9/11 excess and ridiculed for its creepy name. Mr. Poindexter’s notorious role in the Iran-contra affair became a central focus of the debate. He resigned from government, and T.I.A. was dismantled in 2003.

    But what Mr. Poindexter didn’t know was that the N.S.A. was already pursuing its own version of the program, and on a scale that he had only imagined. A decade later, the legacy of T.I.A. is quietly thriving at the N.S.A. It is more pervasive than most people think, and it operates with little accountability or restraint. [..]

    Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) asked the NSA a simple question: how many persons inside the United States have been spied upon by the NSA? I. Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, answer was that to answer that question would violate the privacy of citizens. In other words, they probably don’t know.

    In July, in response to a request from Sen. Wyden, IG McCullough declassified three statements “one of which indicated that the FISA court agreed with Wyden that the government had “circumvented the spirit of the law.” Even the Wall Street Journal reported that this “represented the first time the government has acknowledged U.S. spy activities violated the Constitution since the passage of” the Amendments Act in 2008.

    Whistleblowers like Mr. Binney, Thomas Drake, as well as, journalists like Ms. Poitras and James Risen put their reputations, freedom and lives on the line to warn us about the unregulated, unmonitored surveillance of the NSA. No one is watching the NSA but they are watching us.

    Aug 25 2012

    CNN compares protesters to terrorist insurgents; Feds scare up reason to use drones for conventions

    For the first time (that we know of) drones will be used for a political convention for “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to government agencies”.  “Wraiths” will also be used, ground-based robots that can be armed with lethal or non-lethal weapons.  The manufacturer of these vehicles has crosshairs and a skeleton as their logo.

    A bulletin was issued jointly by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security on August 21st, warning law enforcement agencies about anarchist extremists and the report uses words and imagery that are usually reserved for terrorist insurgents.  They invited the media to learn about their operations control center at an “undisclosed location” and today the fearmongering and demonization of “anarchist extremists”  is blazing across the airwaves along with news about the drones that will be used.

    CNN did a video report that is particularly egregious as it quotes from the report saying that the extremist anarchist protesters might use IEDs, and they explain that IEDs are the things used by terrorist insurgents in Afghanistan.  They generously supply video clips of an explosion in Afghanistan and another one that is a military vehicle being blown up, with the shoulder of a soldier in camo coming into the view of the camera at the end.  While the report explains that not all protesters are expected to be violent, CNN adds some video footage of Occupy Wall Street protesters chanting “this is what democracy looks like” and just in case you didn’t make the connection, they throw in some people in Guy Fawkes masks from some supposed Anonymous videos about the convention.  The words and imagery used by the media and the government are meant to cause conflation of Occupy Wall Street protesters and terrorists, in my opinion, and to preemptively justify the excessive use of force during the upcoming conventions and extreme use of militaristic equipment.

    The report also mentions that law enforcement should look out for anarchists who might be doing weapons training or buying explosives and they mention that they have used the internet for research and organization in the past.  In the CNN video though, they say that the feds told them they are not watching any particular anarchists.  No.  And then after all of that fearmongering and set up, they say that no specific threats have been made.

    It’s funny that the FBI/DHS waited until six days before the RNC convention to issue this warning, isn’t it?  This report was made for the media, in my opinion.