Daily Archive: 05/04/2013

May 04 2013

Random Japan

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The government says if a major quake were to strike the Nankai Trough, it would cause ¥17 trillion in damage-more than 10 times the cost of the 3/11 disasters.

Officials at the defense ministry are in hot water for free-speech violations after asking applicants to provide info about their spouses’ nationality and whether they had undergone “treatment for alcohol, drugs or psychological disorders.”

The Japanese government lodged a complaint with authorities in France after a French company sold “a device to facilitate landing by ship-based helicopters” to China.

Meanwhile, a 35-year-old Japanese expat living in Singapore died while rock climbing in the Batu Caves outside Kuala Lumpur.

May 04 2013

Triple Crown: The Longest 2 Minutes In Sports

Adapted from 5/5/12

This was no ordinary homecoming.  This was a do-or-die attempt to lay the ghost of years of rejection from the horse-rearing elite and the literati who sat in those privileged boxes overlooking the track and those unprivileged craven hordes who grovelled around the centre-field where he had suffered as a boy.

The clubhouse as I remember was worse, much worse than I had expected.  It was a mess.  This was supposed to be a smart, horsey clubhouse, oozing with money and gentry, but what I saw had me skulking in corners.  It was worse than the night I spent on Skid Row a month later, back in New York.  My feet crunched broken glass on the floor.  There seemed no difference between a telephone booth and a urinal; both were used for the same purpose.  Foul messages were scrawled in human excrement on the walls and bull-necked men, in what had once been white, but were smeared and stained, seersucker suits, were doing awful things to younger but equally depraved men around every corner.  The place reminded me of a cowshed that hadn’t been cleaned in fifteen years.  Somehow I knew I had to look and observe.  It was my job.  What was I being paid for?  I was lucky to be here.  Lots of people would give their drawing arm to be able to see the actual Kentucky Derby which was now hardly an hour away.  Hunter understood and was watching me as much as he was watching the scene before us.

Something splattered the page I was drawing on and, as I moved to wipe it away, I realized too late it was somebody’s vomit.  During the worst days of the Weimar Republic, when Hitler was rising faster than a bull on heat, George Grosz, the savage satirical painter, had used human shit as a violent method of colouring his drawings.  It is a shade of brown like no other and its use makes an ultimate statement about the subject.

‘Seen enough?’, asked Hunter, pushing me hastily towards an exit that led out to the club enclosure.  I needed a drink.  ‘Er… one more trip to the inner-field Ralph I think,’ I heard Hunter say nervously.  ‘Only another half-hour to the big race.  If we don’t catch the inner-field now, we’ll miss it.’  So we went.

While the scene was as wild here as it had been in the clubhouse, it had a warmer, more human face, more colour and happiness and gay abandon – the difference in atmosphere between Hogarth’s Gin Lane and Beer Street.  One harrowed and death-like the other bloated with booze but animal-healthy.

Who would have thought I was after the gristle, the blood-throbbing veins, poisoned exquisitely by endless self-indulgence, mint juleps, and bourbon.  Hide, anyway, behind the dark shades you predatory piece of raw blubber.

The race was now getting a frenzied response as Dust Commander began to make the running.  Bangles and jewels rattled on suntanned, wobbling flesh and even the pillar men in suits were now on tip-toe, creased skin under double-chins stretched to the limit into long furrows that curved down into tight collars.

Mouths opened and closed and veins pulsed in unison as the frenzy reached its climax.  One or two slumped back as their horses failed, but the mass hysteria rose to a final orgasmic shriek, at last bubbling over into whoops of joy, hugging and back slapping.  I turned to face the track again, but it was all over.  That was it.  The 1970 Kentucky Derby won by Dust Commander with a lead of five lengths – the biggest winning margin since 1946 when Triple Crown Champion, Assault, won the Derby by eight lengths.

‘I think it’s time I was thinking of getting back to New York.  Let’s have a meal somewhere and I can phone the airline for plane times.  What day is it, we seem to have lost a weekend.  I need a drink.’

‘You need a lynching.  You’ve upset my friends and I haven’t written a goddamn word.  I’ve been too busy looking after you.  Your work here is done.  I can never come back here again.  This whole thing will probably finish me as a writer.  I have no story.’

‘Well I know we got a bit pissed and let things slip a bit but there’s lots of colour.  Lots happened.’

‘Holy Shit!  You scumbag!  This is Kentucky, not Skid Row.  I love these people.  They are my friends and you treated them like scum.’

Ralph Steadman- The Joke’s Over

As Horse Racing Season Heats Up, Industry Examines Itself To Keep Horses Safer

By Travis Waldron, ThinkProgress

May 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

Saturday will mark the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, when the top three-year-old horses from around the world will compete for the garland of roses in America’s oldest continuous sporting event. The Derby has gone off on the first Saturday in May uninterrupted since 1875, and as the years have worn on, the crowds and ceremonies have only grown.

The Sport of Kings may not hold the prominent place in American culture it once did, but it hasn’t been immunized from the debates that have enthralled the sports that have taken its place. Like baseball, it has battled the spread of performance-enhancing drugs. Like football, it has faced its own existential crisis, a question about whether it is too dangerous and whether it can be made safe for its participants.

Like both sports, those battles have featured prominently in the national media – perhaps never more so than they did in 2008, when the Derby champion, Big Brown, was linked to steroids and runner-up, Eight Belles, collapsed in a heap after crossing the finish line and was euthanized on the Churchill Downs dirt. The sport was already facing questions – and asking them of itself – before that Saturday, and the questions have only grown stronger since.

American racetracks have one of the highest collective breakdown rates in the world, and even though horses here have more opportunities to enter the starting gates, they do so far less often than many of their foreign competitors. A New York Times analysis found that American race horses had an on-track incident rate of 5.2 per 1,000 starts; by comparison, a Toronto racetrack the Times studied had a rate of just 1.4 per 1,000 starts. The average number of starts for American horses plunged to an all-time low – 6.1 – in 2010; by comparison, foreign horses average as many as 18 starts in their careers.

Hmm… remind you of anything?  It should.  It’s just about the same as last year’s featured piece from The Atlantic.

That’s tradition for you.

If you want to you can watch Kentucky Derby coverage from 11 am ET (on Vs. where it actually started on Wednesday) until 7 pm (on NBC, where they spare you the pre-race hype until 4).

I suppose this is good thing since you can hardly be expected to follow Horse Racing unless you’re a tout or plunger in one of the few forms of gambling deemed socially acceptable (as opposed to Poker, which is not gambling at all) and 2 year olds don’t have much of a record to handicap.  Black Onyx is a last minute scratch and will not be replaced.

Ice Cream.  Get your Tutsi Frootsie Ice Cream.

It’s really mostly an excuse to wear hats that would be rejected from a 5th Avenue Easter Parade or Royal Wedding and get tanked up on Bourbon that is best sipped with a soda chaser and not muddled up with mint.

Mint Julep


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar


To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

New York Times coverage-

Post Time is 6:24 pm ET.

May 04 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

Dukkah: Nut and Spice Mixes for Seasoning and Snacking

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I gave you a recipe for dukkah, a Middle Eastern nut and spice mix, a few weeks ago. In that recipe I sprinkled it over the ingredients in a rice bowl. I’d made much more dukkah than the recipe called for, and found myself snacking on it until I ran out. Now it’s my favorite snack. I sprinkle some into my hand or into a ramekin and eat it by the pinch. Dukkah has so many of the attributes of a snack food – crunch, a little bit of salt (as opposed to a lot of salt), spice. I realized that very little salt is required when the salt is combined with spices and ground or chopped nuts and seeds to give your palate that hit of snack-food pleasure. And it occurred to me that dukkah could also fit the bill as a low-sodium seasoning for all sorts of dishes.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Peanut Dukkah

This dukkah is great with vegetables and with pita, and on its own as a snack.

Dukkah-Dusted Sand Dabs

This dukkah recipe can stand in for flour as a coating for fried fish or vegetables.

Pumpkin Seed Dukkah

This mildly spicy, nutty dukkah is good with Mexican food, particularly in quesadillas.

Bruschetta With Chard or Spinach, Poached Egg and Dukkah

This recipe adds coconut to the dukkah, to introduce some sweetness to the nutty/spicy mix.

Hazelnut Dukkah With Fennel Seeds and Mint or Thyme

Some versions of dukkah, like this one, are herbal as well as spicy.

May 04 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

Bruce Ackerman and Eugene R. Fidell; Send Judges to Guantánamo, Then Shut It

PRESIDENT OBAMA has once again pledged to close the Guantánamo Bay prison. But can he back up his brave words with decisive action?

The answer is yes, if he chooses to.

At present, legislation bars him from sending the Guantánamo detainees to the mainland United States to receive justice from the federal courts, leaving them to be tried by slow-moving military commissions that deny them many of the guarantees of civilian legal procedure. Nevertheless, the president has a way forward. He can, on his own authority, send federal judges to Guantánamo, where they could resolve the remaining cases in trials everyone can respect.

Previous presidents have established federal civilian courts on territory under American military control without going through Congress. The clearest precedent was set in postwar Germany.

The Nation Editors: Obama: Walk Your Talk on Guantánamo

It’s true that lawmakers on both sides have fought hard to make transfers impossible. But Obama’s words ignored how his own policies set the stage for the crisis. “He has said the right thing before,” Guantánamo lawyer Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights told The Nation. “It’s time now for action.” The CCR is calling on Obama to end his “self-imposed moratorium” on releasing Yemenis and resume prisoner transfers. It has also called for Obama to appoint a senior official to “shepherd the process of closure.”

As the hunger strike approaches its hundredth day on May 17, more than 100 of Guantánamo’s 166 prisoners are refusing food. The president must start living up to his rhetoric about closing the prison, the CCR warns, or “the men who are on hunger strike will die, and he will be ultimately responsible for their deaths.”

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Mushroom Clouds Over Texas, 500 Deaths in Bangladesh — That’s Why We Need Unions

News reports tell us that more than 500 people have now died and more than 2,500 were injured in Savar, Bangladesh, while the toll in West, Texas stands at 15 dead and over 200 injured. Behind these two disasters is a common thread of greed — and a common need for unionized resistance. [..]

What’s needed is a recognition that every life is worth fighting for, in every field and factory on the planet.  It’s fought with the understanding that better-paid workers buy more goods and raise the global standard of living, no matter where they live.

The stories from Texas and Bangladesh shouldn’t just horrify us. They should galvanize us into action.  They aren’t complete until we choose to live them ourselves. As Mother Jones said, “Mourn the dead, but fight like hell for the living.”

Doug Bandow: Syria: The Only Red Line Should be to Stay Out

The Syrian civil war lurches on, adding new casualties every day. The campaign to push the U.S. into the Syrian civil war also marches on, threatening to add American casualties to the human toll. Possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government is another reason to stay out, not to get in.

Washington’s foreign policy should be one of peace. There are tragic times when war becomes necessary, but thankfully not often. Especially for America, which enjoys a privileged international position.

Today the U.S. is without peer. Terrorism is the most serious security threat facing the country, but it is only exacerbated by promiscuous intervention in conflicts not America’s own. Bombing, invading, and occupying other nations creates enemies who want to hurt Americans.

Robert Reich: The Flaccid Jobs Report

We remain in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession. The Labor Department reports that 165,000 new jobs were created in April — below the average gains of 183,000 in the previous three months.

We can’t achieve escape velocity. Since mid-2010, the three-month rolling average of job gains hasn’t dipped below 100,000 but has exceeded 250,000 jobs just twice.

This isn’t enough to ease the backlog of at least 3 million (estimates range up to 8 million) job losses since 2007, just before the Great Recession began. (And as I’ll point out in a moment, 2007 wasn’t exactly jobs nirvana.)

Moreover, most of the new jobs now being created pay less than the ones that were lost.

What’s wrong?

Charles M. Blow: Dear College Graduates…

I’m scheduled to deliver the commencement address Friday at my alma mater, Grambling State University in Louisiana, so I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to the America into which these students are graduating.

I must admit that finding hopeful, encouraging things to say has been exceedingly difficult, in part because the landscape at the moment – particularly for young adults – is so bleak.

Here are some of the facts that I’m up against rhetorically and that these students will be up against more literally.

May 04 2013

Saturday May 4, 2013: Up with Steve Kornacki Tweets

Today was about gun control and the power of the presidency and a lot of BS about how Obama is the knight in shining armor held down by the evil opposing army in the Senate. Pretending that any mention of the bully pulpit or real legislative history is having liberal fantasies like on the West Wing. Same crap I have debunked forever. I am going to be a thorn in Steve Kornacki’s side if this keeps up. Also there was marriage equality and Jason Collins coming out in the NBA.

Now #Uppers.

This was my point of the day.

Thank you for reading.

May 04 2013

On This Day In History May 4

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

May 4 is the 124th day of the year (125th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 241 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1970, At Kent State University, 100 National Guardsmen fire their rifles into a group of students, killing four and wounding 11. This incident occurred in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s April 30 announcement that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had been ordered to execute an “incursion” into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese bases there. In protest, a wave of demonstrations and disturbances erupted on college campuses across the country.

There were no warnings when the Guardsmen opened fire. 60 rounds were fire into the crowd of demonstrators. After an investigation, all the charges were dropped against the National Guard in 1974.

New audio from the day of the shootings has been released on a website dubbed KentState1970.org. The site also features images of the historic day’s tragic events.


May 04 2013

President Obama’s Austerity Does Not Make Him a Keynesian

It’s really sad it has come to this. There are many people that have jumped to branding President Obama as the second coming of famed economist John Maynard Keynes in what has become a rather sad attempt to deflect his austerity along with the deficit hysteria he preaches on a daily basis. Some people pretend the sequester he and Gene Sperling wrote along with putting chained CPI on the table(cutting seniors income) in order to get out it somehow “makes Obama a textbook Keynesian.” Nope.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to know this is false.

“The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.”

– John Maynard Keynes (1937) Collected Writings