03/08/2014 archive

Random Japan

 photo km-21_zpsaba1e8ef.png

Special subway cars in Kyoto are perfect for travelling anime fans

    Casey Baseel

Kyoto is best known as a bastion of Japan’s traditional past, where the visual and performing arts developed during the feudal era still command the highest respect. Japan’s former capital is also making a bid to become a center for modern popular culture as well, though. 2006 saw the opening of the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the city also plays host to the annual Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair.

Kyoto’s love for anime is truly a two-way street, as the city serves as the setting for numerous animated series. Apparently the relationship between anime and Kyoto has progressed to a point where the two feel comfortable with an overt display of public affection, in the form of a special subway train plastered with anime graphics.

 photo km-11_zps3fe25e1a.png

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

Building a Meal Around Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Vegetables with Polenta photo recipehealthpromo-tmagArticle_zpsd01ba1cb.jpg

Roasted vegetables can go much farther than their usual position of side dish with meat. I served them with polenta and with grains (quinoa was popular), I blended them up with stock for a comforting soup, and I made roasted vegetable omelets. They are also welcome in a salad or in a risotto. Roast more than you think you will need; you will end up using them.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Omelets With Roasted Vegetables and Feta

With roasted vegetables on hand, this satisfying meal comes together in minutes.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Medley

A sweet mixture of winter vegetables that works on its own as a side or as part of a few different kinds of main dishes.

Roasted Root Vegetables With Polenta

A comforting main dish that combines savory oven-baked polenta with sweet oven-roasted root vegetables.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms With Gremolata and Quinoa

Two roasted vegetables that are delicious with a variety of grains.

Roasted Carrot, Parsnip and Potato Soup

A creamy, comforting winter soup that is simple to make.

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

Mary Robinson: Women’s Leadership Can Transform the Way We Do Business in a Climate-Constrained World

As a global community, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. One path — the “business as usual” route — sees us approach a drastically warmer world, where our continuing reliance on fossil fuels will make this planet a cruelly inhospitable place for our children and grandchildren.

The other path is the route towards opportunity and truly sustainable development. The route that gives future generations the same chances to grow and prosper as so many of us in the developed world have enjoyed. If properly approached, this path should address the core inequalities that have plagued our world to date. But traveling this path requires a transformation in leadership as we move to a new greener, low carbon development model.

The transformative leadership necessary for a fair and climate-just future for all requires bold and brave steps by heads of state and government around the world. To be brave, these leaders must be supported by an engaged and well-informed electorate, business community, local governments and civil society organizations.

Elise Collins Shields: The Pentagon’s shameful culture of sexual assault can still be uprooted

Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s bill failed, but when we start over, let’s start at the very beginning: the military academies

“I could trade in my wife for you.” That’s what one of my husband’s former US Air Force Academy classmates told me at their class reunion.

If you ever get bored…. So went the sexual innuendo from other former classmates, some of whom physically groped me or made outright invitations to meet up.

My husband was as shocked as I – and heartsick that this was his new wife’s introduction to military culture. In addition to being upset, I was disturbed that these men seemingly never faced consequences for this sort of behavior if they felt so comfortable acting out.

And I was upset Thursday afternoon, when the US Senate failed to pass a bill championed by Senator Kristen Gillibrand that would take sexual assault investigation and prosecution away from the chain of command – that would finally bring consequences for longstanding systemic sexual assault across the US military.

Nichi Hodgson: In a world where upskirt shots are legal, there can’t be enough anti-creep laws

A Massachusetts court may not understand the 21st century, but who knows how many photo fetish addicts are out there?

Here’s the thing about picture-collecting voyeurism: desire may be amoral, but the act of taking iPhone photos of non-consenting individuals in order to get your rocks off doesn’t happen without consequences. There are personal repercussions. And there should be more legal punishment, too.

No, “creepshots” aren’t protected by the First Amendment, which “does not protect purely private recreational, non-communicative photography”, according to a 2010 ruling. But they’re still running too rampant.

It all depends on what camera angle the creeps are using, which body part they focus on and, until this week, which state they lived in.

Yes, as of Wednesday, it was found to be perfectly legal to take “upskirt” shots of unsuspecting women on public transportation in the state of Massachusetts. Thank god the state legislature has now rushed through a bill to counter such a ridiculous ruling by the courts. (Update: Gov Deval Patrick has made upskirts illegal – officially.)

Joe Conason: Lying Again? Scholars Detect Deception in Ryan’s Poverty Report

For the sake of America’s poor, a sincere conservative effort to improve the programs that serve them is very desirable-especially so long as Republicans control the House of Representatives, where they habitually yearn to cut or defund those same programs. For months, Washington has eagerly awaited the latest version of “compassionate conservatism,” promised by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his publicists.

Appearing at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Ryan denounced government programs that serve the poor, including food stamps and free school lunch: “What the left is offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that.”

But what the House budget chair and 2012 vice-presidential candidate delivered a few days earlier showed that he is offering not more, but much less. “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” produced by Ryan’s House Budget Committee staff is merely more of the same old right-wing propaganda against the safety net, and worse.

David Sirota: Do Companies Have a First Amendment Right to Track You?

Do corporations have a legal right to track your car? If you think that is a purely academic question, think again. Working with groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, states are considering laws to prevent private companies from continuing to mass photograph license plates.

This is one of the backlashes to the news about mass surveillance. However, this backlash is now facing legal pushback from the corporations that take the photographs and then sell the data gleaned from the images.

In a lawsuit against the state of Utah, Digital Recognition Network, Inc. and Vigilant Solutions are attempting to appropriate the ACLU’s own pro-free speech arguments for themselves. They argue that a recent Utah law banning them from using automated cameras to collect images, locations and times of license plates is a violation of their own free speech rights. Indeed, in an interview, DRN’s counsel Michael Carvin defends this practice by noting, “Everyone has a First Amendment right to take these photographs and disseminate this information.”

Timothy Karr: Why You Should Fear Big Bad Cable

Comcast’s plan to merge with Time Warner Cable could leave millions of Americans stranded on the digital equivalent of a winding dirt road.

Twenty-five years ago this month, Sir Tim Berners-Lee introduced an open protocol for sharing information that gave everyday Internet users the power over what they created and whom they connected with online.

His concept quickly evolved into the World Wide Web. One British research scientist’s idea for people-to-people communications became a global engine for empowerment, economic growth and free speech.

Berners-Lee’s idea was to create a web of limitless access and choice. And he was largely successful.

We can use YouTube to share and watch videos, or we can switch over to Vimeo, Instagram, or Blip. We can speak directly with friends using Skype, Hangout, FaceTime or other voice and video services. We can connect and communicate anything with anyone at any time.

But all of that could change.

On This Day In History March 8

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.

March 8 is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 298 days remaining until the end of the year.

International Women's Day 2014 photo 8march_landysh_zpsb1db1e26.jpg On this day in 1911, International Women’s Day is launched in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany.

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day is marked on the 8th of March every year. It is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements.

Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

The first IWD was observed on 19 March 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

In 1910, Second International held the first international women’s conference in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset). An ‘International Women’s Day’ was established. It was suggested by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified. The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19. In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the united Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”

2014 International Women’s Day

he UN theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for Women is Progress for All”.

The Google Doodle on the eve of IWD 2014 (7 March 2014) featured an International Women’s day doodle video, showing images and videos of women around the world, with music by Zap Mama

Daylight Saving Time: Love It or Hate It, It’s Here

dst photo imagesqtbnANd9GcTFLoa01_4oYxnUAWSW__zps54be39ed.jpg Love, or hate it, Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins at 2 AM on Sunday March 9, when the clocks on the US, Canada and most European countries jumps ahead one hour and everyone loses an hour of precious Sunday morning sleep. Damn, that’s tonight!

Why do we do this? To understand that question, we have to look at the history of DST which began, not fooling, in ancient Rome. BTW, it has nothing much to do with farmers, except that they hate it.

Although not punctual in the modern sense, ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than modern DST does, often dividing daylight into twelve hours regardless of day length, so that each daylight hour was longer during summer. For example, Roman water clocks had different scales for different months of the year: at Rome’s latitude the third hour from sunrise, hora tertia, started by modern standards at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes.

Then there was inventor, diplomat, American Patriot Benjamin Franklin who coined the phrase, “early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” While he was envoy to France, he published an anonymous letter suggesting that Parisians needed to get out of bed earlier in the summer to save candles. He tongue in cheek proposed “taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise.” He didn’t exactly advance DST since standardization of time was unknown in the 1700. That came about with industrialization and railroads.

So who and when was DST actually put forward? The most obvious suspect for that is New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson who liked collecting insects after work. He wrote two papers in 1895 and 1898 that he submitted to the Wellington Philosophical Society proposing a two-hour daylight-saving shift. There was interest but it went nowhere.

In 1905, English builder and golfer William Willett came up with the idea of DST after riding through London early one morning noticed that most Londoners were sleeping late on Summer days. He also didn’t like having to end his golf game at dusk. He published a proposal in 1907 that was taken up by the House of Commons. The bill failed, as did several others over the years. Willett lobbied for the proposal in the UK until his death in 1915.

Then came World War 1.

Starting on 30 April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies (Austria-Hungary) were the first to use DST (German: Sommerzeit) as a way to conserve coal during wartime. Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed suit. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year and the United States adopted it in 1918.

It’s been adjusted and changed any number of times and not every country plays this silly game. Russia ended DST in 2011. In Summer, that’s just fine but in winter it doesn’t get light in Moscow until after 10 AM. Many residents are not thrilled leaving for work in pitch darkness and the DUMA proposed reinstating DST in 2013

In the US not all states will switch. Arizona, Hawaii and Indiana have adopted a uniform time system. This year Tennessee and Florida, have legislation pending to join them.

The claims that DST saves energy are minimal since the offset by increased use of air conditioning offsets any savings from turning off lights. And then there are those farmers. The blame for it doesn’t lie with them since DST doesn’t benefit them

Contrary to popular belief, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving to have more time to work in the fields; in fact, the agriculture industry was deeply opposed to the time switch when it was first implemented on March 31, 1918, as a wartime measure. The sun, not the clock, dictated farmers’ schedules, so daylight saving was very disruptive. Farmers had to wait an extra hour for dew to evaporate to harvest hay, hired hands worked less since they still left at the same time for dinner and cows weren’t ready to be milked an hour earlier to meet shipping schedules. Agrarian interests led the fight for the 1919 repeal of national daylight saving time, which passed after Congress voted to override President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. Rather than rural interests, it has been urban entities such as retail outlets and recreational businesses that have championed daylight saving over the decades.

Yes, it confuses the cows. Anyone with a pet knows that they can tell what time dinner is. I know when it’s 8 AM, 5PM and 10 PM in my house, the cat tells me. But this clock thing just totally messes with her internal clock that says it’s time for me to feed her.

The other issue is health, especially heart health.

It is easier to go to bed later in the Fall, than to go try to go to sleep earlier in the Spring. Since most heart attacks take place early in the morning when the body starts to wake up and blood pressure starts to rise, losing an hour of sleep could put extra strain on a vulnerable heart.

In a 2008 study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that in Sweden the risk of having heart attack goes up in the days just after the spring time change. This is most likely due to the loss of that precious hour of sleep and the disruption of circadian rhythms.

Circadian rhythms are biological cycles that occur in humans, animals, insects, plants, and even bacteria with a period of approximately (circa) one day (diem). These rhythms are determined internally by a part of our hypothalamus and are synchronized perfectly to our 24-hr days by the sun and other cues. This internal clock mediates daily variation in everything from hormone levels, to sleep/wake cycles, feeding behaviour, thermoregulation, to bowel movements and cardiovascular function, among many others.

It is largely due to these predictable circadian rhythms that risk of a myocardial infarction (heart attack) is significantly highest in the morning (by about 40% as compared to other times in the day). Right as we awake, our cardiovascular system is in the most compromised state -systolic blood pressure and heart rate show the largest upward spike in the morning, blood vessels ability to dilate in response to increased blood flow is compromised (relative endothelial dysfunction), blood clots are more likely to form, and the ability to break them up is at its lowest point in the day.

Pets DST photo petsDST_zps6a1d54c8.jpg Sleep disorders are exacerbated, as well, since it is easier to sleep that extra hour or go to bed later in the Fall, then trying to go to sleep earlier. For the days after DST, many people are more tired during the day due to the loss of sleep and sleeplessness caused by the one hour change. A 2008 study showed that fatal traffic accidents increased following DST.

My problem with DST is the same one I have in the fall, adjusting my sleep to the time change, And then there’s my cat. who thinks it’s weird that I’m feeding her an hour she is not accustom.

Whatever your problem is with DST, it’s coming at 2 AM. So get busy resetting those clocks before you got to bed and check the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.