Daily Archive: 02/02/2013

Feb 02 2013

Random Japan

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THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM

The National Police Agency and the Japan Securities Dealers Association announced new measures intended to keep yakuza groups from… stock trading.

Leading online game operator Gree blamed a software glitch for overcharging the accounts of 733 minors-including 30 kids who were stuck with bills of more than ¥100,000 each.

Education officials in Saitama have developed a system that enables students to report bullying incidents via mobile phone.

It was reported that the Japanese are trying to save electricity this winter by “warmth sharing”-that is, “the communal use of warm and toasty places.”

Feb 02 2013

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 Hodgepodge of Muffins, All Gluten-Free

Banana Chocolate Muffins

So I put together my own gluten-free flour mix, one without bean flour, and turned to America’s favorite Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahem for guidance. I was already thinking about making muffins and I wanted a mix that could replace the whole wheat flour I usually use in conjunction with other grains or flours. Her formula for a whole-grain flour mix is simple – 70 percent ground gluten-free grain like rice flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour or teff (the list on her site is a long one) and 30 percent starch like potato starch, cornstarch or arrowroot. For this week’s recipes, I used what I had, which was brown rice flour, potato starch and cornstarch – 20 percent potato starch and 10 percent cornstarch — and that’s the basis for the nutritional analyses of this week’s recipes. I used this mix in conjunction with a gluten-free meal or flour, so the amount of pure starch in the batters is much less than 30 percent.

When you bake anything it is much simpler and results are more consistent if you use grams and scale your ingredients. This is especially true with gluten-free baking, since you are working with grain and starch formulas. Digital scales are not expensive and I urge you to switch over to this method if you like to bake. I have given approximate cup measures so the recipes will work both ways, but scaling is more accurate.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Muffins

These dark chocolate muffins taste more extravagant than they are.

Gluten-Free Cornmeal, Fig and Orange Muffins

A sweet and grainy cornmeal mixture makes for a delicious muffin.

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Cheese and Mustard Muffins

A savory muffin with a delicious strong flavor.

Gluten-Free Buckwheat, Poppy Seed and Blueberry Muffins

The buckwheat flour is high-fiber and makes a dark, richly-flavored muffin.

Gluten-Free Cornmeal Molasses Muffins

Strong molasses provides a good source of iron in an easy-to-make muffin.

Feb 02 2013

Deja Vu

How appropriate.

It’s the Mind

Feb 02 2013

Deja Vu

How appropriate.

It’s the Mind

Feb 02 2013

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 End of the Recovery That Never Really Began

We are in the most anemic recovery in modern history, yet our political leaders in Washington aren’t doing squat about it.

In fact, apart from the Fed — which continues to hold interest rates down in the quixotic hope that banks will begin lending again to average people — the government is heading in exactly the wrong direction: raising taxes on the middle class and cutting spending. [..]

More jobs and faster growth should be the most important objectives now. With them, everything else will be easier to achieve — protection against climate change, immigration reform, long-term budget reform. Without them, everything will be harder.

Yet we’re moving in the opposite direction. Why isn’t Washington listening?

New York Times Editorial: More Lessons About Charter Schools

The charter school movement gained a foothold in American education two decades ago partly by asserting that independently run, publicly financed schools would outperform traditional public schools if they were exempted from onerous regulations. The charter advocates also promised that unlike traditional schools, which were allowed to fail without consequence, charter schools would be rigorously reviewed and shut down when they failed to perform. [..]

With thousands of charter schools now operating in 40 states, and more coming online every day, neither of these promises has been kept. Despite a growing number of studies showing that charter schools are generally no better – and often are worse – than their traditional counterparts, the state and local agencies and organizations that grant the charters have been increasingly hesitant to shut down schools, even those that continue to perform abysmally for years on end.

Bill Moyers: Barack Obama, Drone Ranger

The story of bin Laden’s death is just one aspect of the international manhunt the United States has pursued, a worldwide dragnet of detention and death that has raised troubling questions and fervent debate over the fight against terrorism. What about the undermining of civil liberties here at home? The rights of suspects? The secret surveillance of American citizens? The swollen executive powers first claimed by George W. Bush and now by Barack Obama? [..]

Meanwhile, President Obama has stepped up the use of unmanned drones against suspected terrorists abroad, not only in Afghanistan but in countries where we’re not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. As the Brookings Institution’s Peter Singer wrote in The New York Times a year ago, “… A new technology is short-circuiting the decision-making process for what used to be the most important choice a democracy could make. Something that would have previously been viewed as a war is simply not being treated like a war.”

Marion Wright Edelman: Our Turn to Say No More — Right Now

At the January 30th Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the survivor of a gunshot to the head, gave us our marching orders. The United States stands alone in the world in our tolerance of gun violence, but in the wake of the devastating Newtown murders, a powerful group of ordinary Americans across the country is saying no more. This time we want our collective heartbreak and outrage to be followed by real change.

How have people in other countries responded after a gun massacre or mass shooting? Australia and Great Britain provide two examples. In 1996, 35 people were killed and 23 others were wounded by a gunman at the Port Arthur tourist site in Tasmania, Australia, in one of the largest massacres ever committed by a single shooter. Within twelve days of the shooting, spurred by strong public support, the Australian federal and state governments agreed to the historic National Firearms Agreement (NFA), which banned semi-automatic and pump action rifles and shotguns and required registration of all firearms, strict standards for gun licenses and a permit for each gun purchase subject to a 28-day waiting period. The NFA also prohibited private sales, regulated ammunition sales and required licensees to receive firearm safety training and to store firearms safely. To get banned rifles and shotguns off the streets, the federal government bought back or accepted turn-ins of over one million guns which were then destroyed. [..]

Let’s heed Gabby Giffords’ moving testimony to be bold, to be courageous and to act now for our children’s sake.

Alan Colmes: Dear NRA, Please Put Me on Your Enemies List

he National Rifle Association has an extensive enemies list, and I am, frankly, insulted that I am not on it. The list is sorely lacking. Politicians favoring gun regulations are absent, as are this thing we have in the digital era called websites. Addicting Info would be a nice addition, not to mention Occupy the NRA I have a little site called Liberaland that isn’t exactly an NRA press shop. Maybe if they spent less time playing shoot-em-up and gave The Google an occasional whirl, they’d know what century it is. Some of the people on the list are actually dead. I loved Nora Ephron and Jill Clayburgh, but they’re not currently setting the world on fire. Nor is the late soap star John Ingle. I may not be the biggest name, nor am I the most important voice speaking out against the NRA’s foolish, out-of-touch positions, but at least I’m operating above room temperature. HELLO! [..]

If anybody keeping score for the NRA sees this, thank you very much for your consideration.

Zack Kopplin: Should Taxpayers Be Funding Private Schools That Teach Creationism?

According to so-called education reform advocates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his Foundation for Excellence in Education, school vouchers, which allow parents to direct state money to private schools of their choice, are essential because “families need the financial freedom to attend schools that meet their needs.” From Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, to Newark, N.J.’s Democratic Mayor Cory Booker, these programs are backed by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they enjoy the support of powerful interest groups such as the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and the American Federation for Children.

Voucher programs have been established in 12 states and the District of Columbia, and they are spreading as Texas and Tennessee attempt to create ones of their own. As the use of vouchers has expanded across the country in recent years, new questions have arisen that extend beyond concerns about their appropriateness and legality. We’ve pushed standards, testing and accountability for public schools, so why shouldn’t private institutions receiving vouchers have to meet those same requirements? Should private institutions be allowed to ignore state science standards and teach their students creationism while receiving taxpayer money? Does learning about biblical creation, rather than evolution, really help to meet students’ needs?

Feb 02 2013

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Feb 02 2013

Rise and shine campers!

Ned?  Ned Ryerson?!

You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.

How are you doing this?

I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Feb 02 2013

On This Day In History February 2

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.

February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 332 days remaining until the end of the year (333 in leap years).

On this day in 1925, dog sleds reach Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.

During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy,” 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles (1,085 km) by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic. Both the mushers and their dogs were portrayed as heroes in the newly popular medium of radio, and received headline coverage in newspapers across the United States. Balto, the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome, became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin, and his statue is a popular tourist attraction in New York City’s Central Park. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease.

The sled dog was the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world, and the race became both the last great hurrah and the most famous event in the history of mushing, before first aircraft in the 1930s and then the snowmobile in the 1960s drove the dog sled almost into extinction. The resurgence of recreational mushing in Alaska since the 1970s is a direct result of the tremendous popularity of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which honors the history of dog mushing with many traditions that commemorate the serum run.

Epidemic

The only doctor in Nome and the surrounding communities was Curtis Welch, who was supported by four nurses at the 24-bed Maynard Columbus Hospital. In the summer of 1924, his supply of 80,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin (from 1918) expired, but the order he placed with the health commissioner in Juneau did not arrive before the port closed.

Shortly after the departure of the last ship of the year, the Alameda,[when?] a two-year-old Alaska Native from the nearby village of Holy Cross became the first to display symptoms of diphtheria. Welch diagnosed it as tonsillitis, dismissing diphtheria because no one else in the child’s family or village showed signs of the disease, which is extremely contagious and can survive for weeks outside the body. The child died the next morning, and an abnormally large number of cases of tonsillitis were diagnosed through December, including another fatality on December 28, which is rare. The child’s mother refused to allow an autopsy. Two more Alaska Native children died, and on January 20 the first case of diphtheria was diagnosed in three-year-old Bill Barnett, who had the characteristic grayish lesions on his throat and in his nasal membranes. Welch did not administer the antitoxin, because he was worried the expired batch might weaken the boy, who died the next day.

On January 21, seven-year-old Bessie Stanley was diagnosed in the late stages of the disease, and was injected with 6,000 units of antitoxin. She died later that day. The same evening, Welch called Mayor George Maynard, and arranged an emergency town council meeting. Welch announced he needed at least one million units to stave off an epidemic. The council immediately implemented a quarantine, and Emily Morgan was appointed Quarantine Nurse.

On January 22, 1925, Welch sent a radio telegram via the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System and alerted all major towns in Alaska including the governor in Juneau of the public health risk. A second to the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. read:

“An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here STOP I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin STOP Mail is only form of transportation STOP I have made application to Commissioner of Health of the Territories for antitoxin already STOP There are about 3000 white natives in the district”

Wings versus paws

At the January 24 meeting of the board of health superintendent Mark Summers of the Hammon Consolidated Gold Fields proposed a dogsled relay, using two fast teams. One would start at Nenana and the other at Nome, and they would meet at Nulato. His employee, the Norwegian Leonhard Seppala, was the obvious and only choice for the 630-mile (1,014 km) round trip from Nome to Nulato and back. He had previously made the run from Nome to Nulato in a record-breaking four days, won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes three times, and had become something of a legend for his athletic ability and rapport with his Siberian huskies. His lead dog Togo was equally famous for his leadership, intelligence, and ability to sense danger.

Mayor Maynard proposed flying the antitoxin by aircraft. In February 1924, the first winter aircraft flight in Alaska had been conducted between Fairbanks and McGrath by Carl Eielson, who flew a reliable De Havilland DH-4 issued by the U.S. Post Office on 8 experimental trips. The longest flight was only 260 miles (420 km), the worst conditions were – 10 F (- 23 C) which required so much winter clothing that the plane was almost unflyable, and the plane made several crash landings.

Aftermath

The death toll is officially listed as either 5, 6, or 7, but Welch later estimated there were probably at least 100 additional cases among “the Eskimo camps outside the city. The Natives have a habit of burying their children without reporting the death.” Forty-three new cases were diagnosed in 1926, but they were easily managed with the fresh supply of serum. (Salisbury, 2003, footnotes on page 235 and 243)

All participants received letters of commendation from President Calvin Coolidge, and the Senate stopped work to recognize the event. Each musher during the first relay received a gold medal from the H. K. Mulford company, and the territory awarded them each USD $25. Poems and letters from children poured in, and spontaneous fund raising campaigns sprang up around the country.

Gunnar Kaasen and his team became celebrities and toured the West Coast from February 1925 to February 1926, and even starred in a 30-minute film entitled Balto’s Race to Nome. A statue of Balto by Frederick Roth was unveiled in New York City’s Central Park during a visit on December 15, 1925. Balto and the other dogs became part of a sideshow and lived in horrible conditions until they were rescued by George Kimble and fund raising campaign by the children of Cleveland, Ohio. On March 19, 1927, Balto received a hero’s welcome as they arrived at their permanent home at the Cleveland Zoo. Because of age, Balto was euthanised on March 14, 1933 at the age of 14. He was mounted and placed on display in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Feb 02 2013

What’s Cooking: Super Bowl Indoor Tailgate Party

Bacon Wrapped Pig WingsIt’s the big game, the grand finale to the all the American version of football, Super Bowl XLVII which will determine the NFL champion. This year it’s  the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Baltimore Ravens and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion San Francisco 49ers who will meet tomorrow in New Orleans  at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

But, you know all that. The big thing is what to feed those exuberant fans gathered around the TV. I have some new recipes and some old favorites.

For the new:

Bacon-Wrapped Pig Wings

To quote epicurious, where these recipes are from, “Who says pigs can’t fly? Take a few boneless pork chops, add some bacon and a little creativity, and Pig Wings are on the menu!”

If cooking indoors, start in a “slow” oven  235°F for 90 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked. Finish under the broiler to crisp the bacon.

Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp with Blue Cheese and Celery

This shrimp recipe is a close seafood version of Buffalo Chicken Wings. I reduced the salt to two teaspoons with excellent results and the blue cheese dip can be made two days ahead which enhances the flavor.

Garlic Roasted Potato Skins served with Onion and Spinach Dip.

Save the scooped out flesh for other uses. Potato skins can be scooped out and spread with garlic paste, but not baked, 1 day ahead and chilled, loosely covered with foil. Bring them to room temperature before baking.

Pretzel Bites with Quick Cheddar Dip

For a quick recipe, you can buy frozen pretzels in the snack section of the supermarket. Just cut them into bite size nuggets before cooking.

Meatball Sliders

You can substitute your favorite ready made meatballs and sauce but, trust me, if you have time, this recipe is well worth making from “scratch.”

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings

For the health conscious, baking yields really crispy wings without the mess and time watching. For the less healthy conscious these are our past favorites:

Buffalo Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese Dip and Spicy Laquered Chicken Wings

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

Heavens forbid we should forget desert. Nummm

If you aren’t watching the game, eat your heart out.

Feb 02 2013

Friday Night at the Movies

Welcome to Friday Night at the Movies, a new idea I’m trying.  If there’s something you’d rather see in this space (other than Inigo Montoya’s father) I’m open to suggestions.

We start with Judge Dredd, perhaps the worst film Sylvester Stallone ever made outside of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Shhh…, he may be in the closet, if you think that adds depth to his character.