01/25/2014 archive

Random Japan

 photo quiz-time1_zpsf37882c8.jpg

Quiz of the Week: Round 4 (Now with 100% more otter!)

  Philip Kendall  

Don’t forget to highlight the space between the square brackets [  ]  after the word “Answer:” or click the “Read more” link to check your answers. And remember: every time you cheat, Evil Baby Sato gets a step closer to your door.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Question 1.

Which of the following everyday words originally comes from Japanese?

A: “Soap”, as in the thing you really ought to be washing your stinky armpits with.

B: “Skosh”, as in ‘”Salt and vinegar on your squirrel bits, guv’ner?” “Yeah, just a skosh!”‘

C: “Sunday”, as in the day that comes four days before Thursday.

D: “Shhhhhfrtftfpojtftffgvfvffvjvfvpcunk”, as in “the keys that I just mashed”.

Answer: [ B ] Read more

Question 2.

This advertisement caused controversy earlier this week, with many calling it “racist”. But what was the ad actually intended to promote?

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

Not Your Grandmother’s Gratin

Potato and Sorel Gratin photo 22recipehealth-tmagArticle_zps735235c2.jpg

A vegetable gratin is a casserole that is baked in the oven in a heavy baking dish until the top and sides are browned, or gratinéed. Roasting vegetables for a gratin adds another level of caramelized flavor to the dish. Roasted winter squash is particularly sweet. Roasting cauliflower coaxes flavor out of this somewhat bland vegetable: the small flowers brown and crisp, and I was hard pressed to save enough for my gratin, so tempting a snack were they. I begin just about any eggplant dish I make by roasting the eggplant, as this method of cooking requires much less oil than frying.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Potato and Sorrel Gratin

A gratin that is not a typical creamy sliced potato gratin but more like a potato pie.

Roasted Squash and Red Onion Gratin With Quinoa

Roasting the squash results in a sweet layer of flavor in this beautiful gratin.

Fennel, Kale and Rice Gratin

Two different greens provide contrast in this casserole.

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin With Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

A beautiful, light gratin with Middle Eastern spices.

Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Gratin

A Mediterranean gratin seasoned with cumin and thyme.

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

New York Times Editorial: A Hidden Threat in the Farm Bill

The mammoth farm bill is reportedly near a conference compromise in Congress, bristling with more tragic cuts in the food stamp program for the needy and a revision of lucrative commodity subsidies for mostly big farmers. Running below the radar is a dangerous, broadly written amendment that would threaten states’ current powers to enact their own agricultural standards – standards that can extend far beyond farmyards to consumer, worker and environmental safety. [..]

The National Conference of State Legislatures has properly urged rejection of the amendment because it would pre-empt assorted local agricultural policies vital in protecting “our farmland, waterways, forests and most importantly, the health and welfare of our constituents.” The group warned that existing laws on invasive pests and livestock disease and standards of seed and food protection would be open to challenge, abrogating states’ rights guaranteed under the Constitution. States vary, with some requiring the labeling of farm-raised fish, the banning of specific pesticides, and cross-border protections against Dutch elm disease and other threats.

John Nichols: Who Backs the TPP and a ‘NAFTA on Steroids’? Nobody Even Slightly Progressive

If President Obama uses his State of the Union address to launch a major push for “fast-track” authority to bypass congressional input and oversight on a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, he will need new allies to generate support around the country. [..]

In fact, if Obama decides to ramp up his advocacy for a free-trade strategy that progressive Americans tend to see as a threat to workers, farmers, the environment, human rights and democracy, he won’t be able to count on many traditional allies to stir up grassroots support in the states. That’s one of the reasons there remains considerable uncertainty about whether the president really will-in a speech that is expected to focus on income equality-spend substantial time talking up a trade agenda that has drawn broad opposition from House and Senate Democrats and so much of his base.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Crime Doesn’t Pay? JPMorgan Chase Begs to Differ

What do you give a Wall Street CEO who has presided over a decade of fraud and criminality, who directly supervised a unit that lost $6 billion through incompetent and illegal trading, and whose reign of crime and mismanagement has cost his institution $20 billion in the last year alone — a figure that undoubtedly would’ve been much larger in a less morally compromised regulatory environment?

If you are the Board of Directors of JPMorgan Chase, you give him a raise.

Let’s not mince words: Jamie Dimon’s bank is, as we said last May, the scandal of our time. The crimes committed during Dimon’s time in senior management include bribery, mortgage fraud, investor fraud, consumer fraud, credit card fraud, forgery, perjury, violation of sanctions against Iran and Syria, violation of laws prohibiting the bilking of active-duty service members … shall we continue?

The Captain and Tennile are getting divorced. But when it comes to the Board and Jamie, love will keep them together.

Robert Naiman: Vermont’s Senator Sanders Is Right: Use War Money to Take Care of Veterans

Sometimes Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders does something that reminds us that it does actually matter that he’s an Independent in the best sense of the word: thinking for himself, not accepting the DC “conventional wisdom” that often defines the limits of reform.

Now, Bernie’s done it again, proposing to use war funding to pay for veterans’ benefits, with the most politically salient feature of his proposal being its reversal of the military pension cuts included in the Ryan-Murray budget deal. [..]

Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have long argued that we fundamentally undercount the cost of war if we exclude the cost of caring for veterans afterwards. The future cost of caring for veterans is a fundamental cost of war, and honest budgeting would include it in accounting for war cost.

Kimi Naidoo: Message to World Elites: Don’t Bet on Coal and Oil Growth

A mind-boggling sum of about US$ 800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10% of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at US$ 5.5 trillion.

By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be ongoing demand for dirty fuel.

Michelle Chen: Capitalists for a Higher Minimum Wage

A Silicon Valley multimillionaire and conservative pundit wants to give his state’s poorest workers a raise. Huh?

Entrepreneur Ron Unz, known for his reactionary views on immigration (along with controversial commentary on race, crime, IQ and social policy), is campaigning for a state ballot measure to lift California’s minimum wage to $12-well above the $10 minimum currently set to take effect in 2016 (and a giant step above the federal wage floor of $7.25).

Some progressives might be puzzled that Unz, who in the late 1990s famously pushed a ballot measure to scrap bilingual education programs in California, has taken on this populist fight, albeit with an odd neo-Fordist air.

Of course, the Right’s resistance to this has never been realistic; empirical research shows that lifting the federal minimum wage could boost earnings for a third of the country’s workforce and drive broad economic growth. The opposition is mostly ideological, based on overblown charges that high labor costs will harm employers, along with the business community’s general antipathy toward state regulation of wages.

On This Day In History January 25

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.

January 25 is the 25th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 340 days remaining until the end of the year (341 in leap years).

On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond is found. At the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was [the largest diamond ever found.

The Cullinan diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).

The largest polished gem from the stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.1 g) was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond, 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest gem from the Cullinan stone, Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, at 317.4 carats (63.5 g), is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.


The Cullinan diamond was found by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, on January 26, 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.

Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the Cullinan diamond before it was cut and mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyzer was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain. Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds.

The stone was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to King Edward VII on his birthday. It was cut into three large parts by Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. In order to enable Asscher to cut the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Let’s Try Giving ‘Net Neutrality’ a Less Boring Name

By Caroline Winter, Business Week

January 21, 2014

Network neutrality is a very important issue that suffers from terrible branding. “It’s one of those names that kind of glides by you, it doesn’t generate a lot of interest,” says David Placek, founder of Lexicon Branding. “I would really consider thinking about a new phrase.” But what?

Coined by Columbia law professor Tim Wu, net neutrality refers to the principal that Internet service providers treat all content, websites, and platforms equally. It’s a principle that may now be dead: Last week a federal appeals court struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules, opening the doors for providers to charge companies such as Netflix fees for faster, more seamless streaming. Consumer advocates say those costs may be passed on to customers, and that the ruling may result in a tiered Internet whose providers can even block websites at will.