05/11/2013 archive

Random Japan

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A team of Japanese researchers has used an MRI to “successfully decode dreams by measuring brain activity during sleep.” It’s the first time scientists anywhere have been able to “read dreams.”

A cinema in Nagoya is planning to go “4-D” by allowing moviegoers to “experience wind, sprays of water, scents, light, fog and even soap bubbles.” We’re particularly excited about the bubbles.

After objections from the municipal labor union, officials in Nara ditched a plan to keep tabs on city workers via an ID authentication system “based on blood vein configuration.”

A letter carrier in Chiba who was arrested for stealing 2,100 pieces of mail said she did it because of “stress over her work.”

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 and Easy Vegetable Pickles

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The pickled vegetables make great snacks and hors d’oeuvres. They look beautiful on a platter. They’re also good with a sandwich or with cottage cheese, a quick and easy way to make vegetables part of your lunch.

Note that this week we are not including nutritional information with the recipes. It isn’t possible to do the analyses accurately, because we don’t know how much of each vegetable you will eat, and each vegetable absorbs a slightly different amount of brine and ingredients in the brine. I weighed the brine before and 10 days after pickling each vegetable and found that not much of the brine had actually been absorbed. As for the yield and serving sizes, the recipes make 1 to 2 cups of pickled vegetables. The number of servings really depends on how you are serving them. They will serve more as a nibble than as a salad or side.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Pickled Baby Turnips or Radishes

The natural pungency of turnips contrasts beautifully with the vinegary brine.

Pickled Cauliflower With Hot Pepper and Cumin

This piquant refrigerator pickle tastes even better after a long brine.

Pickled Beets With Caraway

These are great for nibbling, but they also make a delicious tangy slaw.

Spring Carrot Pickles With Caraway

Multicolored carrots make for particularly beautiful pickles.

Chard Stem Pickles

Pickling is a great thing to do with leftover chard stalks. Red chard or a mix of rainbow chard stalks are especially pretty if you serve them within a few days of pickling.

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

Richard Eskow: Tick-Tick-Tick: Do 60 Minutes And America’s Billionaires Want Us to Beg?

If you’re a jobless person looking for food or a wounded vet who needs health care, “60 Minutes” has a solution: Beg a billionaire for it. That was part of the powerful, if covert, message behind last Sunday’s “60 Minutes” broadcast.

The rest of Sunday night’s message, which tracks closely with the right-wing agenda promoted by billionaires like Pete Peterson, goes like this: Keep downsizing government. Keep tolerating and promoting the hijacking of our national wealth by the rich, even as it suffocates the middle class and creates soaring poverty rates. Surrender democratic control over the social safety net to wealthy donors.

And whatever you do, keep stroking their insatiable egos.

Norman Solomon: Obama in Plunderland: Down the Corporate Rabbit Hole

The president’s new choices for Commerce secretary and FCC chair underscore how far down the rabbit hole his populist conceits have tumbled. Yet the Obama rhetoric about standing up for working people against “special interests” is as profuse as ever. Would you care for a spot of Kool-Aid at the Mad Hatter’s tea party? [..]

To nominate Penny Pritzker for secretary of Commerce is to throw in the towel for any pretense of integrity that could pass a laugh test. Pritzker is “a longtime political supporter and heavyweight fundraiser,” the Chicago Tribune reported with notable understatement last week, adding: “She is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp., which was founded by her family and has had rocky relations with labor unions, and she could face questions about the failure of a bank partly owned by her family. With a personal fortune estimated at $1.85 billion, Pritzker is listed by Forbes magazine among the 300 wealthiest Americans.”

Al Gore: 400 PPM

Yesterday, for the first time in human history, concentrations of carbon dioxide, the primary global warming pollutant, hit 400 parts per million in our planet’s atmosphere. This number is a reminder that for the last 150 years — and especially over the last several decades — we have been recklessly polluting the protective sheath of atmosphere that surrounds the Earth and protects the conditions that have fostered the flourishing of our civilization. We are altering the composition of our atmosphere at an unprecedented rate. Indeed, every single day we pour an additional 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the sky as if it were an open sewer. As the distinguished climate scientist Jim Hansen has calculated, the accumulated manmade global warming pollution in the atmosphere now traps enough extra heat energy each day to equal the energy that would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima-scale atomic bombs exploding every single day. It’s a big planet — but that is a LOT of energy. And it is having a destructive effect.

Now, more than ever before, we are reaping the consequences of our recklessness. From Superstorm Sandy, which crippled New York City and large areas of New Jersey, to a drought that parched more than half of our nation; from a flood that inundated large swaths of Australia to rising seas affecting millions around the world, the reality of the climate crisis is upon us.

David Sirota: The Military’s 40-Year Experiment

Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if that name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.

Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft?

Eugene Robinson: Looks Like a Witch Hunt

Those who are trying to make the Benghazi tragedy into a scandal for the Obama administration really ought to decide what story line they want to sell.

Actually, by “those” I mean Republicans and by “the Obama administration” I mean Hillary Clinton. The only coherent purpose I can discern in all of this is to sully Clinton’s record as secretary of state in case she runs for president in 2016.

That’s not a particularly noble way to use the deaths of four American public servants, but at least it’s understandable. Attempts to concoct some kind of sinister Whitewater-style conspiracy, however, don’t even begin to make sense.

Ralph Nader: Seeking Sustainability

Sustainability,” the late Ray Anderson–founder and chairman of Interface Inc. –once told theNew York Times, “doesn’t cost, it pays.” After his “conversion experience” on the harmful effects his modular carpet business had on the environment, Anderson redirected his corporate philosophy to focus on the noble goal of absolute sustainability. Through his efforts, the company’s industrial processes were improved to start making peace with the planet–all while continuing to run a profitable business. His dedication to a sustainable society is one that, ideally, all CEOs should share, but most do not.

There’s little to debate about the enormous impact our commercial culture has had on our planet and its costly toll on the environment. But there is much to debate about how our culture of excess consumerism and materialism can be transitioned into one of more efficient restraint and responsibility.

On This Day In History May 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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 11 is the 131st day of the year (132nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 234 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, a massive storm sends millions of tons of topsoil flying from across the parched Great Plains region of the United States as far east as New York, Boston and Atlanta.

At the time the Great Plains were settled in the mid-1800s, the land was covered by prairie grass, which held moisture in the earth and kept most of the soil from blowing away even during dry spells. By the early 20th century, however, farmers had plowed under much of the grass to create fields. The U.S. entry into World War I in 1917 caused a great need for wheat, and farms began to push their fields to the limit, plowing under more and more grassland with the newly invented tractor. The plowing continued after the war, when the introduction of even more powerful gasoline tractors sped up the process. During the 1920s, wheat production increased by 300 percent, causing a glut in the market by 1931.

The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops or other techniques to prevent erosion. Deep plowing of the virgin topsoil of the Great Plains had displaced the natural deep-rooted grasses that normally kept the soil in place and trapped moisture even during periods of drought and high winds.

During the drought of the 1930s, without natural anchors to keep the soil in place, it dried, turned to dust, and blew away eastward and southward in large dark clouds. At times the clouds blackened the sky reaching all the way to East Coast cities such as New York and Washington, D.C. Much of the soil ended up deposited in the Atlantic Ocean, carried by prevailing winds, which were in part created by the dry and bare soil conditions. These immense dust storms-given names such as “Black Blizzards” and “Black Rollers”-often reduced visibility to a few feet (around a meter). The Dust Bowl affected 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2), centered on the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, and adjacent parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas.

Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes; many of these families (often known as “Okies”, since so many came from Oklahoma) migrated to California and other states, where they found economic conditions little better during the Great Depression than those they had left. Owning no land, many became migrant workers who traveled from farm to farm to pick fruit and other crops at starvation wages. Author John Steinbeck [ later wrote The Grapes of Wrath, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Of Mice and Men, about such people.

Cooking For Democracy

Michael Pollan on How Reclaiming Cooking Can Save Our Food System, Make Us Healthy & Grow Democracy

Full Transcript can be read here

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spent an hour with Michael Pollan,  Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism.

Pollan has written several best-selling books about food, including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” In his latest book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” Pollan argues that taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make our food system healthier and more sustainable. “There is a deliberate effort to undermine food culture to sell us processed food,” Pollan says. “The family meal is a challenge if you’re General Mills or Kellogg or one of these companies, or McDonald’s, because the family meal is usually one thing shared.” Pollan also talks about the “slow food” movement. “Slow food is about food that is good, clean and fair. They’re concerned with social justice. They’re concerned with how the food is grown and how humane and chemical-free it is.” He adds, “Slow food is about recovering that space around the family and keeping the influence of the food manufacturers outside of the house. … The family meal is very important. It’s the nursery of democracy.”

Formula One 2013: Circuit de Catalunya Qualifying

Three week break my ass, I hate writing about sports.

Following Formula One means going to bed late and getting up early,  No big deal for a junky, but my fundamental indifference rears its ugly head.

We will be running Hards and Mediums and during practice teams have been coerced by bribes and sportsmanship to test replacements for the failed Softs and Super Softs which throw chunks of rubber on pit lane.  Compounds have reverted to 2012 since 2013 is a huge fail so far.

Speaking of fail, commentators are pimping Williams and prominently ignoring McLaren.  Williams has been mired in last place forever and McLaren is wasting pots of money on a chassis that will be junked next year when they switch to blown 6es.

Why talk about Red Bull, Lotus, Ferarri, or Mercedes when you can obsess about the also rans and Danica?

Of course the casual slap dash coverage is because the sporting press is swimming in saliva about Monaco which is hardly a race but more an exposure of what Formula One is really about-


Of course any failure by Mercedes is due to rear camber stiffness.

Friday Night at the Movies

The Secret of the Seven Sisters

Al Jazeera

26 Apr 2013 13:12

On August 28, 1928, in the Scottish highlands, began the secret story of oil.

Three men had an appointment at Achnacarry Castle – a Dutchman, an American and an Englishman.

Four others soon joined them, and they came to be known as the Seven Sisters – the biggest oil companies in the world.