05/10/2014 archive

Random Japan

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Nintendo celebrates its roots with traditional art of their most famous characters

   Cara Clegg

With global phenomenon like the Mario and Pokemon franchises under their belts, it’s easy to forget about Nintendo’s humble beginnings as a producer of traditional Japanese playing cards. This year the company goes back to their roots in their 2014 company brochure with beautiful artwork that celebrates both the old and the new.

How fancy is Nintendo’s latest company brochure?! Below is the hardcover book that Nintendo is distributing to students looking to work for their company. The contents are updated every year, and they’re always coming up with new ideas for it. This year it features vibrant full-page spreads of Nintendo’s iconic products from across the years, all strikingly worked in a bold and traditional art style. Judging by the Twitter comments it seems that there are people who apply every year just to get their hands on these annual brochures, and we can understand why: this one is so beautiful it looks like a collector’s item.

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

Dishes for Digestive Health

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I’ve long been aware of the term “probiotics” (is there anybody who watches television who hasn’t seen Jamie Lee Curtis touting them in those old ads for Activia yogurt?), the beneficial microbes in our guts, and also in fermented foods like miso and kimchi, that some experts believe play a significant role in gut health and in keeping our immune system robust. But I’d never heard the word “prebiotics” until I attended a talk by the Stanford nutritionist Jo Ann Hattner, who has written (with Susan Anderes) an interesting guide called “Gut Insight: Probiotics and Prebiotics for Digestive Health and Well-Being.”

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Chard Stalk, Chickpea, Tahini and Yogurt Dip

An economical dip that is a cross between hummus and the classic Middle Eastern dip called silq bil tahina


Spring Vegetable Stew With Artichokes and Fennel

The inspiration for this dish is a Sicilian stew called fritteda that can be served with pasta or other grains as a main course.

Baked Frittata With Yogurt, Chard and Green Garlic

A spin on the Provençal chard omelet called truccha, good to eat hot, warm or cold.

Quinoa Bowl With Roasted Artichokes, Spring Onions, Peas and Garlic Yogurt This dish in a bowl mixes sweet and bitter edges.

This dish in a bowl mixes sweet and bitter edges.

Stir-Fried Baby Turnips With Spring Onions, Green Garlic and Tofu

Juicy springtime ginger, onions and green garlic elevate this stir-fry featuring baby turnips and their bitter greens.

The Breakfast Club (Piccolo Trumpet)

 photo BeerBreakfast_web_zps646fca37.pngOne thing that you learn as an artist is that it’s good to have a patron.  The popular illusion is of the independent entrepreneur who through the strength and novelty of their original vision captures the hearts and minds of the masses and markets their output commercially.

The truth is that every Vincent has at least a Theo and that financial success is like winning the lottery.  Most who are ridden by a Muse die poor, young, and convinced they are despised.

Welcome our Benevolent Oligarch Masters.

As I had the good fortune a few years ago to be heard by Your Royal Highness, at Your Highness’s commands, and as I noticed then that Your Highness took some pleasure in the little talents which Heaven has given me for Music, and as in taking Leave of Your Royal Highness, Your Highness deigned to honour me with the command to send Your Highness some pieces of my Composition: I have in accordance with Your Highness’s most gracious orders taken the liberty of rendering my most humble duty to Your Royal Highness with the present Concertos, which I have adapted to several instruments; begging Your Highness most humbly not to judge their imperfection with the rigor of that discriminating and sensitive taste, which everyone knows Him to have for musical works, but rather to take into benign Consideration the profound respect and the most humble obedience which I thus attempt to show Him.

And he was just a Margrave, the equivalent of a Count or a Baron.  Imagine if he were a Duke.

So here’s an audition piece for you.

Of course there’s more

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

Jane White: The Best Mother’s Day Gift We Can Give: A More Secure Social Security

Women are twice as likely as men to retire into poverty because of gender inequality in pay and retirement plan coverage. On average, women earn 77 cents to every dollar men earn and for women of color it’s even worse. African American women earn 62 cents and Hispanic women earn 54 cents to every dollar earned by their male counterparts. [..]

However, Social Security’s benefits are extremely modest: on average, women receive only about $13,100 per year. Given this puniness, it’s preposterous that some on Capitol Hill would make benefits even worse. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has called for a 16.5 percent across-the-board cut. [..]

Bottom line: If the men in Congress love their mothers, then strengthening Social Security should be high on their to-do list, especially this time of year.

Glen Ford: Jail the Bankers? Obama Has Been Their Staunchest Defender

The Obama administration is in a makeover frenzy, cosmetically cleaning up its corporatist act for the sake of the lame duck president’s legacy and endangered Democrats in Congress. Evils must be reapportioned in the public mind, so that the balance between lesser and greater abominations is perceived to tilt in the Democrats’ favor – a tough trick, given the beating the party’s base constituencies have taken since 2008 at the hands of the duopoly Dem-Rep tag-team. Historical revisionism is, thus, the order of the day

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General who successfully intervened in federal court to prevent the retroactive release of thousands of mostly Black prisoners convicted under the old 100-to-1 crack cocaine laws, now acts as point man for his boss’s program of charitable sentencing commutations. Obama’s compassionate mood-swing occurred at whiplash speed; in his first six years in office, he had granted fewer clemencies than any president since Dwight Eisenhower. Obama’s brazenly hypocritical and slap-dash new program “will not represent any significant or permanent change to the nation’s universal policy of mass incarceration, mainly of poor black and brown youth,” as Bruce Dixon has written, but is designed purely to rehabilitate the president’s image among Black voters. With one empty gesture, the president’s record on criminal justice is revised.

Amy B. Dean: The drive to ban mandated paid sick days

On March 20, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio signed a bill expanding the city’s paid-sick-day law, giving an additional 500,000 workers the right to take up to five sick days in a year to care for themselves or sick family members without losing pay. Other cities – including Seattle; Washington; Portland, Oregon; Jersey City and Newark, New Jersey; and San Francisco – have passed similar mandates (as has the state of Connecticut), creating a benefit that voters support and employees need and that many employers say is economically sustainable. In places without such laws, an estimated 40 percent of the workforce has no paid sick days, meaning that restaurant servers and retail employees often have little economic choice but to work sick, even if that means risking infecting customers and co-workers.

Despite the clear public benefit of paid sick days, a new, troubling backlash is occurring at the state level, urged on by lobbying groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes conservative legislation at the state level, and the National Restaurant Association. These organizations are pushing legislatures and governors to enact pre-emption (or kill-shot) laws to bar cities and counties from passing paid sick day mandates. With this model, state lawmakers can put an end to mandatory paid sick days, minimum wage increases and other pro-worker policies that voters and city governments have passed or are considering. It is a way of attacking a current wave of grass-roots organizing – organizing that has been gaining momentum, with recent big victories in cities such as Seattle, which just passed a minimum wage increase to $15 per hour.

Paul Rogers:

Sixty years ago smallpox was endemic across much of the world, killing two million people each year. In 1959 an international programme to eliminate the virus was started, not least because it was a disease amenable to large-scale vaccination. In 1977, the last case was diagnosed and recorded. It had taken just eighteen years to achieve the elimination of the entire disease in the wild.

This was the first-ever case of a major disease organism being destroyed in the wild, and there has only been one other – far less well-known, but in its own way quite significant. This is rinderpest, a dangerous viral infection most common in cattle but infecting some other species of livestock.  It took several decades to exterminate, but success finally came in 2001.

A third disease has been the target of atempts at total elimination. This is poliomyelitis, which in the 1980s still infected hundreds of thousands of people. Polio, if not a killer on the same scale as smallpox, is particularly prone to attack children and can leave them with severe impairments that can last a lifetime.

Mark Weisbrot: With friends like the IMF and EU, Ukraine doesn’t need enemies

Euromaidan protesters took to Kyiv’s streets last year in the hopes of Ukraine’s becoming part of the European Union. The Europe they admired was one of material comforts and living standards far beyond the reach of most Ukrainians, whose average income is about the level of El Salvadorans’. The demonstrators wanted for themselves something approaching Europe’s prosperity – a market economy, advanced technology, quality public transportation, universal health care, adequate pensions and paid vacations that average five weeks.f they are fortunate enough to avoid war, Ukrainians may be in for an unpleasant surprise as their current and even soon-to-be-elected leaders negotiate their economic future with their new, unelected European deciders. The Europe of their near and intermediate future may be more like Greece’s or Spain’s – but with less than a third of their per capita income and with a small fraction of those countries’ now shrunken social safety nets.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that one of the conditions of its lending to Kyiv (along with that of the EU and U.S.) will be fiscal austerity for the next two and a half years. Ukraine’s economy is already in recession, with the IMF projecting a steep 5 percent decline in GDP for 2014. The danger is that this fiscal tightening could become a moving target as the economy and therefore tax revenues shrink further and the government has to cut even more spending to meet the IMF’s deficit goals.

Ralph Nader: Let’s Call Out Institutional Insanities

What are the signs that an institution is clinically insane? For over thirty-five years I have been trying to persuade psychological and psychiatric specialists and their professional associations to take up this serious subject for study and corrective suggestions. Alas, to no avail. They are totally occupied with the mental health of individuals.

One symptom of institutional insanity is when the mass media repeatedly goes wild covering offensive words, while ignoring systemic offensive deeds that reflect those words. In 2009, Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers, settled for $2.725 million with the Department of Justice for unlawfully excluding prospective African-American and Hispanic tenants from his apartment buildings. In comparison to the coverage of his racist words, this injustice received little news coverage.

This past week, all you heard was the endless replay of his private bigotry with whom many believe to be his girlfriend and all the condemnations by wealthy active and retired ball players and coaches. Where was their outrage in 2009? What about the tens of thousands of serf-laborers in Southeast Asia who slave away manufacturing Michael Jordan’s and LeBron James’ shoes?

On This Day In History May 10

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 10 is the 130th day of the year (131st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 235 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1869, the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads meet in Promontory, Utah, and drive a ceremonial last spike into a rail line that connects their railroads. This made transcontinental railroad travel possible for the first time in U.S. history. No longer would western-bound travelers need to take the long and dangerous journey by wagon train, and the West would surely lose some of its wild charm with the new connection to the civilized East.

Since at least 1832, both Eastern and frontier statesmen realized a need to connect the two coasts. It was not until 1853, though, that Congress appropriated funds to survey several routes for the transcontinental railroad. The actual building of the railroad would have to wait even longer, as North-South tensions prevented Congress from reaching an agreement on where the line would begin.


The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, starting in Council Bluffs, and continuing across the Missouri River and through Nebraska (Elkhorn, now Omaha, Grand Island, North Platte, Ogallala, Sidney, Nebraska), the Colorado Territory (Julesburg), the Wyoming Territory (Cheyenne, Laramie, Green River, Evanston), the Utah Territory (Ogden, Brigham City, Corinne), and connecting with the Central Pacific at Promontory Summit. The route did not pass through the two biggest cities in the Great American Desert — Denver, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah. Feeder lines were built to service the two cities.

The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,100 km) of track, starting in Sacramento, California, and continuing over the Sierra Nevada mountains into Nevada. It passed through Newcastle, California and Truckee, California, Reno, Nevada, Wadsworth, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, and Wells, Nevada, before connecting with the Union Pacific line at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory. Later, the western part of the route was extended to the Alameda Terminal in Alameda, California, and shortly thereafter, to the Oakland Long Wharf at Oakland Point in Oakland, California. When the eastern end of the CPRR was extended to Ogden, it ended the short period of a boom town for Promontory. Before the CPRR was completed, developers were building other railroads in Nevada and California to connect to it.

At first, the Union Pacific was not directly connected to the Eastern U.S. rail network. Instead, trains had to be ferried across the Missouri River. In 1873, the Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge opened and directly connected the East and West.

Modern-day Interstate 80 closely follows the path of the railroad, with one exception. Between Echo, Utah and Wells, Nevada, Interstate 80 passes through the larger Salt Lake City and passes along the south shore of the Great Salt Lake. The Railroad had blasted and tunneled its way down the Weber River canyon to Ogden and around the north shore of the Great Salt Lake (roughly paralleling modern Interstate 84 and State Route 30). While routing the railroad along the Weber River, Mormon workers signed the Thousand Mile Tree, to commemorate the milestone. A historic marker has been placed there. The portion of the railroad around the north shore of the lake is no longer intact. In 1904, the Lucin Cutoff, a causeway across the center of the Great Salt Lake, shortened the route by approximately 43 miles (69 km), traversing Promontory Point instead of Promontory Summit.