09/08/2012 archive

Cocktail Moment: Harry’s Pick-me-up

Cocktail Moment: Harry’s Pick-me-up


   1 ounce of brandy or cognac

   Juice of half-a-lemon (a real lemon!)

   Two teaspoons of grenadine (again, real is recommended)


Stir ingredients with ice. Shaking works, but stirring preserves the clarity, which is aesthetically better when it’s mixed with champagne.

Strain it into your glass.

Top with champagne.

Random Japan



A restaurant owner in Kanazawa was fined ¥300,000 for entering a local primary school, approaching a boy who had been bullying his 12-year-old daughter, and smacking the little punk in the face.

It took eight cops in Hiroshima to subdue an American ex-Marine wielding a pair of kitchen knives and “fiercely” resisting arrest following a domestic dispute.

An Ibaraki man was arrested for trying to kill an acquaintance with a harpoon gun. The suspect apparently got drunk at his own barbecue party and fired the weapon, which (thankfully) missed.

An elderly Yokohama woman who strangled her 43-year-old son told police he suffered from “a disability” and “wanted to die.”

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


These days chefs get away with calling all sorts of grainy dishes risottos. I’ve seen farro risottos, barley risottos and even quinoa risottos on plenty of menus. The problem with calling these dishes risottos is that if they’re made with grains other than starchy rice like arborio, carnaroli or the rice from the Camargue I used when I was in Provence this summer, they don’t have the creamy texture that makes classic risottos so appealing.

It occurred to me this week that I could get the creamy texture I love in a whole-grain risotto if I cooked the whole grains separately and then combined them with some arborio rice cooked in the traditional way. I pulled bags of farro, black rice, red rice and wild rice from my pantry and cooked them up. I was going away for a few days before I’d have time to test all of the recipes I wanted to try, so I froze some of the grains in plastic bags and thawed them the following week for my recipe tests. This is a great thing to do if you want to have the makings for a hearty grain-based dinner on hand.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Wild Rice and Arborio Risotto With Corn and Red Pepper

Wild rice and corn contribute a New World character to this multicolored, multitextured risotto.

Farro and Arborio Risotto With Leeks, Herbs and Lemon

Adding the lemon and herbs just before serving keeps this chewy risotto tasting light.

Black Rice and Arborio Risotto With Artichokes

Fresh or frozen artichokes work well in this dish.

Black Rice and Arborio Risotto With Beets and Beet Greens

This risotto, tinted red from the beets, is packed with nutrients.

Arborio and Red Rice Risotto With Baby Broccoli and Red Peppers

This satisfying dish features a pleasing mix of colors and textures.

Eurozone Bailout, Not So Fast

Last Thursday Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, won almost unanimous support for an unlimited bond purchase that would relieve the pressure on financial troubled countries by spreading the repayment of debt to Euro Zone countries as a whole:

The central bank’s program will not solve the deep structural problems of the euro, Europe’s common currency. But it will buy time for the political leaders of the 17-nation euro zone to follow through on their past promises to discipline each others’ spending more closely and work harder to relax labor regulations and barriers to business creation that are regarded as impediments to growth.

The central bank will buy bonds on open markets, without setting any limits, in contrast to an earlier bond-buying program that proved too hesitant to be effective. The bank said it would act only after countries agreed on certain conditions with the euro zone rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism. That fund, known as the E.S.M., would buy bonds directly from governments, taking responsibility for imposing the conditions, while the central bank would intervene in secondary markets. [..]

The one dissenting vote came from Germany’s central bank, the Bundesbank, that was cast by Jens Weidmann despite Chancellor Andrea Merkel’s support for the plan.

But no so fast. The plan relies heavily on Spain and Italy to ask for help from the ECB. Both governments expressed reluctance for fear of political back lash at home and the harsh policy changes that they would have to accept. Spanish  Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took the stance that Spain would not be forced into asking for assiatance from the ECB until the conditions were made “crystal clear”:

After Mario Draghi, European Central Bank governor, made clear that any assistance from the central bank to reduce Spanish borrowing costs would come with “strict and effective” conditionality, the Rajoy government remained steadfast in its view that a request would only be made if, and when, it is ready. High quality global journalism requires investment.

“There is no urgency,” a Spanish official said following a joint press conference between Mr Rajoy and Angela Merkel, where the German Chancellor deftly avoided a series of questions over possible new conditions for Spain. [..]

The Spanish prime minister is aware of the disastrous political consequences a direct request for a bailout would have on a nine-month-old government that was elected on a pledge to avoid the fate of Greece, Portugal and Ireland.

At the FDL News Desk, David Dayen gives his analysis:

Basically, Rajoy is saying “do your worst.” And he has some leverage. The Eurozone might be able to survive without Greece, but Spain is too big to fail. Draghi is adamant that he will not rescue the bond yields of any state that does not comply, but that has not been confirmed by events. So we have a game of chicken. And Rajoy, who campaigned on avoiding the fate of Ireland and Greece and Portugal, has political reasons to remain steadfast. He wants to keep the troika out of Spain; it’s political suicide if they come in and tell him how to manage the Spanish economy.

The knowledge among bondholders that Rajoy could at any time sign up for aid may be enough to keep them at bay relative to Spanish debt, and the debt of other sovereigns. That’s my hope, anyway. Because forcing Spain into more brutal austerity will turn out just the way it has turned out in Britain and any other country with a fragile economy.

From the annual Ambrosetti Forum at Lake Como on Friday, economist Nouriel Roubini gave his assessment:

“The ECB move is helpful but is not a game-changer. The eurozone is still in crisis,” said Nouriel Roubini, head of Roubini Global Economics.

“Unless Europe stops the recession and offers people in the peripheral countries some light at the end of the tunnel – not in five years but within 12 months – the political backlash will be overwhleming, with strikes, riots and weak governments collapsing.”

Professor Roubini said the German Bundesbank and will insist that “severe” conditions are imposed on Spain once the country requests a rescue from the eurozone EFSF/ESM bail-out funds and signs a memorandum ceding budgetary sovereignty.

“Plenty of accidents can still occur. There is austerity fatigue in the periphery and bail-out fatigue in the core. Eveybody is restless,” he said [..]

This current plan only kicks the can down the road. There are structural problems of the Eurozone system that must be addressed to adequately resolve this crisis:

There is a structural contradiction within the euro system, namely that there is a monetary union (common currency) without a fiscal union (e.g., common taxation, pension, and treasury functions). In the Eurozone system, the countries are required to follow a similar fiscal path, but they do not have common treasury to enforce it. That is, countries with the same monetary system have freedom in fiscal policies in taxation and expenditure. So, even though there are some agreements on monetary policy and through European Central Bank, countries may not be able to or would simply choose not to follow it. This feature brought fiscal free riding of peripheral economies, especially represented by Greece, as it is hard to control and regulate national financial institutions. Furthermore, there is also a problem that the euro zone system has a difficult structure for quick response. Eurozone, having 17 nations as its members, require unanimous agreement for a decision making process. This would lead to failure in complete prevention of contagion of other areas, as it would be hard for the Euro zone to respond quickly to the problem.

In addition, as of June 2012 there was no “banking union” meaning that there was no Europe-wide approach to bank deposit insurance, bank oversight, or a joint means of recapitalization or resolution (wind-down) of failing banks. Bank deposit insurance helps avoid bank runs.

So countries like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal, who find themselves in a financial crunch, must rely on the not so “goodwill” of countries like Germany who are reluctant to share the pain.

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

Robert Reich: The Jobs Report and the Election

President Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention was long on uplifting rhetoric but short on specifics for what he’ll do if reelected to reignite the American economy.

Yet today’s jobs report provides a troubling reminder that the economy is still in bad shape. Employers added only 96,000 nonfarm jobs in August. True, the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from July’s 8.3 percent, but the size of the workforce continued to drop, according to a Labor Department report Friday. [..]

Undeniably, we have more jobs today than we did at the trough of the Great Recession in 2009. But the recovery has been anemic — and it appears to be slowing. We’re better off than we were then, but we’re not as well off as we need to be by a long shot.

John Nichols: Obama Manufactures an Argument for His Re-election

If the theme of last week’s Republican National Convention was the manipulative sloganeering of “We Build It,” then the theme of this week’s Democratic National Convention has been “We’re Manufacturing It”-and “We’re Going to Manufacture a Whole Lot More.”

That’s a distinct message, not just from Mitt Romney’s empty rhetoric but from the empty rhetoric of most economic appeals in most elections. [..]

Obama said in his speech that voters will this year have to “choose between two different paths for America.” He was right. The choice between an Obama-Biden future and a Romney-Ryan future is stark.

But Obama must also choose between a bipartisan consensus that works only for speculators and a new way that will work for workers. His speech was a start. How he finishes it will decide the 2012 campaign, and the future of all the Flints and Toledos and Janesvilles that are waiting for a president who really does worry more about Main Street than Wall Street.

New York Times Editorial: Jobs and Politics

Coming two months before Election Day, the employment report for August is a problem for President Obama. The economy added 96,000 jobs last month, a slow pace that lowered the monthly average this year to 139,000, versus 153,000 in 2011. Even the decline in the jobless rate, to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, was a disappointment, because it indicated a shrinking labor force as people gave up looking for work.

But properly understood, the report should not encourage voters to support Mitt Romney. That’s because boosting tepid job growth requires stimulative fiscal policy – including spending to rehire teachers and to rebuild schools, roads and other infrastructure, as well as loan modifications for underwater homeowners. Mr. Obama has proposed all of that, while Republicans have blocked such measures and the Republican agenda rejects them.

Glenn Greenwald: Democrats parade Osama bin Laden’s corpse as their proudest achievement

It’s one thing for Democrats to fete Obama’s tougher-than-thou national security credentials, but this ghoulish jingoism is warped

One of the formative events shaping my views of the last decade’s American political landscape was watching the 2004 Republican national convention. An expertly staged, supremely manipulative ritual of jingoism and leader-worship, I regarded it with an equal measure of awe and horror.

America’s militarism was continuously exploited by speaker after speaker to glorify the commander-in-chief, George W Bush, as a brave and noble warrior for American Greatness. Each mention of war and killing prompted his delirious followers to erupt in the same boisterous crowd-chant: “USA, USA.” Bush’s opponent (and his supporters), by contrast, were vilified as soft-on-the-terrorists, troop-hating, America-despising weaklings who lacked the stomach to Keep Us Safe.

[..]I thought, or at least hoped, that such vulgar crowd celebrations of leader-reverence, jingoism and militarism would not soon be replicated. But on Thursday night, the final night of the Democratic party convention, it was.

It is hard to count how many times a Democratic party speaker stood up proudly to proclaim:

   “Osama. Bin. Laden. Is. Dead!”

Chris Woods: Who Is Held to Account for Civilian Deaths by Drone in Yemen?

There is a history of Yemeni officials lying to protect the US, and the Pentagon and CIA greeting queries with obfuscation

When news flashed of an air strike on a vehicle in the Yemeni city of Radaa on Sunday afternoon, early claims that al-Qaida militants had died soon gave way to a more grisly reality.

At least 10 civilians had been killed, among them women and children. It was the worst loss of civilian life in Yemen’s brutal internal war since May 2012. Somebody had messed up badly. But was the United States or Yemen responsible?

Local officials and eyewitnesses were clear enough. The Radaa attack was the work of a US drone – a common enough event. Since May 2011, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has recorded up to 116 US drone strikes in Yemen, part of a broader covert war aimed at crushing Islamist militants. But of those attacks, only 39 have been confirmed by officials as the work of the US.

The attribution of dozens of further possible drone attacks – and others reportedly involving US ships and conventional aircraft – remains unclear. Both the CIA and Pentagon are fighting dirty wars in Yemen, each with a separate arsenal and kill list. Little wonder that hundreds of deaths remain in a limbo of accountability.

David Sirota: Big Brother in Your Car

Your chipper TV friend Flo, otherwise known as Progressive Insurance’s ubiquitous shill, wants you to be excited-very excited. As you’ve probably learned from her effervescent commercials, she and her Big Brothers in the insurance biz want you to see their new tracking devices for your car not as a privacy-destroying step to justify raising your government-mandated car insurance premiums. Instead, they want you to see the gizmos, which record your vehicle’s every move, as a great innovation to get you premium discounts for safe driving.

Yet, despite the happy TV ads, questions are nonetheless swirling around this so-called “telematics-based insurance”-questions that Flo doesn’t want you to ask, because the tracking system is so frighteningly invasive and arbitrary.

F1 2012: Autodromo Nazionale Monza Qualifying

Monza is the fastest track on the Formula One tour and until recently was the personal testing ground of the Scuderia Marlboro UPC.  Now, except for this weekend, constructors are barred from using it at all.

There are a couple of angles to this.  First, the commentators have finally noticed what I’ve been pointing out for years which is that track testing, though expensive, is the only way for new teams to develop the engineering knowledge to become competitive.

You see it’s quite one thing to take your chassis and your aero bits to a wind tunnel and create a downforce/drag model and an entirely different thing to generate a table of tire grip and degradation under various track surfaces, temperatures, fuel loads, and driving styles.

Also tracks are losing revenue from admissions and rent and maintenance is neglected and untested since the circuits are not being used.  Monza used to rent out every weekend without an event to Maronello and people would pay to wander around and watch.  They’ve just repaved a section and it’s so ripply that people are in danger of losing their compliance boards (you can only scratch a millimeter or 2 off the bottom of your car when you bang the road or a curb).  The prancing pony people would have had that fixed.

Another issue is driver preparation.  Out of a limited pool of practice hours teams understandably devote the bulk to their primaries.  If by circumstance you are forced to start your substitute they will have very little experience in anything except a simulator.  GP 2s are a very different car and type of racing and graduates of that program still require 2 or 3 seasons of training in the F1 hardware to be effective which is why you’ll see so many ‘retired’ veterans make a brief comeback no matter how bad they were in their original stint in the big show.

As is happening this weekend, Grosjean is under suspension for taking out Alonso and Hamilton in Turn One at Spa last week.  His replacement?  d’Ambrosia of no particular reputation other than that of not gratuitously wrecking cars.

Lotus is particularly hard hit this year because after much development they’ve been forced to temporarily abandon their trick passive F-Duct for the 3rd race where it might have made a difference.  Europe has been rainy and race weekend practices inundated beyond the possibility of testing.  We may or may not see its debut in Suzuka, just in time to make no difference at all this season and legislated out of existence next.

Monza is very very fast and the operative elements are downforce and drag.  All the teams will be running the smallest wings they have in stock.  The tire compounds are Hard and Medium and at that they will probably go off quicker than you think because of the stress of braking and cornering without aero help.  Likewise engines and transmissions (Alonso has already gone through a set of each in practice).

While it’s fast, there’s not a lot of passing opportunities because the engines are so narrowly specified that there’s not a lot of horsepower difference on the straights.  Position changes under braking which means it will be a game of chicken in the corners with a lot depending on mechanical (tire) grip.  There will be 2 DRS Zones but the cars are already so light I don’t expect them to make much difference.

On form McLarens and Ferraris look slightly better because of beefier engines and because they have problems with getting enough downforce, not being fast in a straight line.  Pole will be particularly important though probably not decisive because the interval between the leaders will be low.  It will be difficult to get enough of a lead to pit without losing position and hard to regain that once lost unless in an advantageous tactical position (cleary better tires, opponent behind on pits, etc.).

Maldonado did jump start last week, unsure if there was any penalty since he eventually retired anyway.

Speed will repeat Practice and Qualifying starting at 2 am tomorrow with the GP 2 race starting at 6 am and the Italian Grand Prix at 8.

On This Day In History September 8

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.

September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 114 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1966, The TV series, Star Trek, debuted on NBC-TV, on its mission to “boldly go where no man has gone before” and despite ratings and only a three year run that gave us 79 episodes, the series did exactly that.

When Star Trek premiered on NBC-TV in 1966, it was not an immediate hit. Initially, its Nielsen ratings were rather low, and its advertising revenue was modest. Before the end of the first season of Star Trek, some executives at NBC wanted to cancel the series because of its rather low ratings. The chief of the Desilu Productions company, Lucille Ball, reportedly “single-handedly kept Star Trek from being dumped from the NBC-TV lineup.”

Toward the end of the second season, Star Trek was also in danger of cancellation. The lobbying by its fans gained it a third season, but NBC also moved its broadcast time to the Friday night “death slot”, at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (9:00 p.m. Central Time). Star Trek was cancelled at the end of the third season, after 79 episodes were produced. However, this was enough for the show to be “stripped” in TV syndication, allowing it to become extremely popular and gather a large cult following during the 1970s. The success of the program was followed by five additional television series and eleven theatrical films. The Guinness World Records lists the original Star Trek as having the largest number of spin-offs among all TV series in history.

The series begat five televisions series and 11 movies with more to come. I knew I loved Lucille Ball for a reason.

“Rev’ Your Engines”

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm gave an animated and rousing speech about jobs and the suto industry at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Now that’s energy.

The full transcript can be read here. H/T Real Clear Politics

Popular Culture 20120907: Jethro Tull — Aqualung Side Two

It has been a while since the last installment due to several reasons, all of them good.  Tonight we shall finish up Aqualung, one of their better efforts.

The link above has the history around the album, so tonight we shall just concentrate on the music.

Herman Cain: Singer

As aired-

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

It was obvious that he was a man who marched through life to the rhythms of some drum I would never hear.

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