10/19/2013 archive

Random Japan

 photo the-giant-straw-sculptures-of-japan_zps612b16a9.jpg

The giant straw sculptures of Japan

Many of you have probably heard about the massive snow sculptures of the Sapporo Snow Festival, adding a fun event to look forward to in the dead of the harsh winters of Japan’s northernmost prefecture. But what about the straw sculptures of the Wara Art Festival in Niigata Prefecture? To celebrate the end of the rice harvest and the abundance of straw that is produced as a result, the folks in Niigata put all that extra dried stuff to creative use, making huge straw sculptures that tower over the thousands of people who come to visit them.

The sculptures are actually made much like a thatched roof, but the straw is instead attached to frames to create enormous figures.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness NewsWelcome 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

Five Fillings for Stuffed Peppers

Peppers photo pepperstopc600_zpsa2fd0924.jpg

Peppers are very low in calories (about 25 calories per cup), and red peppers in particular are an excellent source of vitamins C, A and B6, as well as a very good source of potassium and vitamin K. By weight, red bell peppers contain three times as much vitamin C as citrus fruit. They also contain lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables. Some research has suggested that lycopene helps fight certain kinds of cancer.

Peppers offer the cook endless possibilities. Roast them and they become a household staple, useful for snacks, salads and quick toppings for sandwiches and bruschetta. Fry or stew them, and they can be stirred into scrambled eggs and frittatas, risottos, pastas and pilafs. Uncooked peppers make a great, healthy snack, a crunchy vegetable that kids will eat.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Stuffed Roasted Yellow Peppers or Red Peppers in Tomato Sauce

These roasted yellow peppers are filled with a savory mix of quinoa seasoned with garlic and parsley and tossed with Manchego or Parmesan cheese.

Fried Small Peppers Filled With Feta and Quinoa

The peppers that are traditionally used for this are small, thin-skinned green peppers that taper to a single tip.

Peppers Stuffed With Rice, Zucchini and Herbs

Make sure that you spoon the sauce left in the baking dish over the rice once the peppers are done.

Stuffed Peppers With Red Rice, Chard and Feta

This filling of red rice, greens and feta, seasoned with fresh mint, is hearty and works very nicely with red peppers.

Sweet and Sour Peppers Stuffed With Rice or Bulgur and Fennel

These sweet and sour peppers are great on their own, but they can also be filled.

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 thea Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: Continuing Salmonella Outbreaks

Months after salmonella-contaminated chicken distributed by a California company sickened people, the dangerous food is still being sold around the country. This disturbing situation is the result of weak federal regulatory powers and the company’s irresponsibility. [..]

Aaron Lavallee, a spokesman for F.S.I.S., said that under statutes and case law, the agency cannot compel a recall in the Foster Farms case with the current evidence. Congress should hold hearings to determine if the Agriculture Department and its food safety service need more power to protect the public from potentially serious harm.

Charles Pierce: The Reign Of Morons: The Presidenting

Was it just me, or was that as pissed-off as we’re likely to see the president in public? Oh, he was still maddeningly vague about who really was behind the Reign Of Morons, all that talk about “the other side,” without using the words, “Republicans,” “conservatives,” or “raving nutballs,” and all that talk about the dangers of “the extremes,’ as though Bernie Sanders was as relevant to the events of the past two weeks as Ted Cruz was. I resemble that remark, sir, and my seconds will be calling on you. And what was that crack conflating “bloggers” with “radio talking-heads” I resemble that remark, sir, and my seconds will be calling on you.

More important, he’s still arguing for an economic compromise in the context of continuing austerity.  He talked about tax reform without tax increases. He talked about jobs without mentioning stimulus. And what he said about “entitlements” sent a cold chill down my spine since it was exactly what Paul Ryan would say. Which is what happens when you conclude that ” creating a budget” is not an “ideological exercise.” [..]

Nevertheless, the president made it plain that, if “the other side” wants to deal, it’s up to them to wring the crazy out of their rag in one quick hurry.

Ralph Nader: The Democrats Can’t Defend the Country From the Retrograde GOP

The Congress, that polls show the American people would like to replace in its entirety, has “kicked the can down the road” again, putting off the government shutdown until January 15 and another debt ceiling showdown until February 7. [..]

There is another story about how all this gridlock came to be, fronted by the question: “Why didn’t the Democrats landslide the cruelest, most ignorant, big-business-indentured Republican Party in its history during the 2010 and 2012 Congressional elections? (See “The Do Nothing Congress: A Record of Extremism and Partisanship”)

There are a number of answers to this fundamental political question. First and most obvious is that the Democrats are dialing for the same commercial campaign dollars, which beyond the baggage of quid pro quomoney, detours the party away from concentrating on their constituents’ needs, in a contrasting manner with the GOP.

Mark Gongloff: 4 Ways The Shutdown Deal Helps The Tea Party, Hurts Everyone Else

With the government back open and the hellstorm of a U.S. debt default delayed, you’re probably feeling pretty good about things, right? Like maybe we’ve thwarted the Tea Party’s quest to destroy the U.S. economy? Sadly, no.

Although House Republicans seem to have failed miserably to ransom the economy over Obamacare or “spending” or “disrespect” or whatever the last three weeks of idiocy and terror were about, they actually won, Bloomberg Businessweek points out in its latest cover story. The deal Congress struck to get the government back to work and raise the debt ceiling maintains a Tea Party pogrom happening since at least 2010, slashing spending at the fastest rate since the end of World War II, according to Businessweek. Rather than helping the economy, the latest debt deal is another disaster for it in four very specific ways: [..]

Dylan Ratigan: Those Who Nominate Dictate

Power, whether in an electoral system or a corporate boardroom, originates with the people who control the nomination of candidates — not with those who “vote” after this process is complete.

This is why the best-run companies consider a wide variety of potential nominees and include as many people as they can in the nomination process. This creates the highest possibility of hiring the best candidates. [..]

The extraordinary power of those who control the nominating process is not lost on power-hungry corporate board members. Why else would Carl Icahn risk billions to simply acquire board seats in hopes of introducing his nominees?

This strategy is definitely not lost on those who finance and nominate our political aspirants.

Henry A. Giroux: The Ghost of Authoritarianism in the Age of the Shutdown

In the aftermath of the reign of Nazi terror in the 1940s, the philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote:

   National Socialism lives on, and even today we still do not know whether it is merely the ghost of what was so monstrous that it lingers on after its own death, or whether it has not yet died at all, whether the willingness to commit the unspeakable survives in people as well as in the conditions that enclose them.

Adorno’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. The threat of authoritarianism to citizen-based democracy is alive and well in the United States, and its presence can be felt in the historical conditions leading up to the partial government shutdown and the refusal on the part of the new extremists to raise the debt ceiling. Adorno believed that while the specific features and horrors of mid-century fascism such as the concentration camps and the control of governments by a political elite and the gestapo would not be reproduced in the same way, democracy as a political ideal and as a working proposition would be under assault once again by new anti-democratic forces all too willing to impose totalitarian systems on their adversaries.

On This Day In History October 19

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.

October 19 is the 292nd day of the year (293rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 73 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1781, hopelessly trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, British General Lord Cornwallis surrenders 8,000 British soldiers and seamen to a larger Franco-American force, effectively bringing an end to the American Revolution.

The Siege of Yorktown or Battle of Yorktown in 1781 was a decisive victory by combined assault of American forces led by General George Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis. It proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War  in North America, as the surrender of Cornwallis’s army prompted the British government eventually to negotiate an end to the conflict.

In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to assist their American allies in operations against British-controlled New York City. Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse, Washington and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia. On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was eventually ordered to make a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis‘s movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette.

The French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse‘s decision arrived, the combined armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned. De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown. He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army. While in Santo Domingo, de Grasse met with Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, an agent of Carlos III of Spain. De Grasse had planned to leave several of his warships in Santo Domingo. Saavedra promised the assistance of the Spanish navy to protect the French merchant fleet, enabling de Grasse to sail north with all of his warships. In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake. As a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September Washington and Rochambeau arrived, and the army and naval forces completely surrounded Cornwallis.

After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, Washington on October 14, 1781 sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. A French column took redoubt #9 and an American column redoubt #10. With these defenses taken, the allies were able to finish their second parallel. With the American artillery closer and more intense than ever, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on the 19th, with Cornwallis being absent since he claimed to be ill. With the capture of over 8,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

Carving Pumpkins 101

First published 10/27/2012

Rather than try to explain how to carve a pumpkin here is a video that is a handy 5 minute guide.

How to Carve a Killer Pumpkin with Leah D’Emilio

And for the more ambitious and artistic pumpkin carvers among us, here is some inspiration with seasonal music.

Amazing Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns

2013 Senior League Championship: Dodgers @ Cardinals Game 6

After a day of travel the Dodgers face 2 must win games away from Chavez Ravine.  Hanley Ramirez will not start and perhaps it’s just as well, he’s never recovered from his HBP.

Jon Jay of the Cardinals won’t start because he sucks.

In Game 5 the LaLas staved off elimination behind Greinke scoring early and often (most often on empty base Home Runs), 2nd inning 2 On 1 Out RBI Single.  Sacrifice and Greinke RBI Singles to help himself.  Top 3rd the Cardinals tie it up, Single, RBI Triple, RBI Double.  In the Bottom of the frame Dodgers go ahead again on a Solo Shot.  They add in the 5th with another Solo Shot and again in the 7th and 8th.  The Cards fall short in the 9th with a Leadoff Double, RBI Single, and 2 more Singles, the last an RBI.  Dodgers 6 – 4, Cards lead Series 3 – 2.

Now in Red Bird land the Cards will start Michael Wacha (4 – 1, 2.78 ERA R).  He’s never lost (2 Ws, 1 DCS, 1 LCS) in the post-season with 6 hits and 1 run in 14 innings for an ERA of 0.61.  That’s stunningly low.  The Dodgers will counter with Clayton Kershaw (16 – 9, 1.83 ERA L).  He lost Game 2 in this same matchup due to the incredibly arcane rules regarding winners and losers with 2 hits and a run scored even though his ERA was 0.00.  Overall in the post-season Kershaw has split, 1 – 1 and allowed 8 hits and 4 runs in 19 innings for an ERA of 0.47.

Not too shabby.  Did I mention he’s a lefty?  That means his move to first is exceptionally good because he can see the base as he delivers.

On paper Kershaw wins it, but they don’t play games on paper.  Thus the L.