06/21/2014 archive

Random Japan

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Anime fans pick which Ghibli heroine they’d like to have as a girlfriend

   Casey Baseel

Totoro may be the most instantly recognizable Studio Ghibl character, but the exalted animation house has produced a far larger number of memorable heroines than cute critters. From warrior princesses to ordinary schoolgirls who defy anime conventions by actually being ordinary, almost every Ghibli film has had a woman as either its central or most important figure.

Each has her own claim to fame. Spirited Away’s Chihiro remains the studio’s highest-grossing leading lady, Arrietty its shortest, and Princess Mononoke’s San the most violent. Now, a recent poll has bestowed yet another title by asking fans which Ghibli character they’d like to have as a girlfriend.

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

Broccoli, Stems and All

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Once upon a time, when you bought broccoli you bought the whole vegetable, stems and crowns. Then it became customary for grocery store produce departments to separate the crowns from the stems and to sell the crowns at a premium.

I’m not a fan of this practice, because I like both parts of the broccoli plant. The stems and crowns are equally nutritious when it comes to calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, protein and vitamin A. The only nutrient that appears to be more concentrated in the crowns is beta carotene.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Pre-Summer Greek Salad With Shaved Broccoli and Peppers or Beets

Uncooked, paper-thin broccoli keeps its shape and color, but absorbs a dressing.

Stir-fried Broccoli Stalks and Flowers, Red Peppers, Peanuts and Tofu

Cutting broccoli stalks into two-inch julienne is almost like adding yet another vegetable to this quick stir-fry.

Pan-Fried Broccoli Stems

A swift way to turn broccoli into an irresistible snack or side dish.

Pasta With Mushrooms and Broccoli

Cooked separately, broccoli stems and flowers have different textures and shades of green.

Spring Rolls With Shredded Broccoli Stems, Vermicelli and Red Pepper

You can save time on these light, pungent spring rolls by using the already shredded broccoli stems available in some supermarkets.

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

Trevor Timm: Congress wants NSA reform after all. Obama and the Senate need to pass it

An overwhelming House vote to cut funds for back doors into your private life sets up a summer surveillance fight: will the Senate stand up before the White House shuts it down?

If you got angry last month when the National Security Agency, the White House and Eric Cantor’s spy-friendly House of Representatives took a once-promising surveillance reform bill and turned it into a shit sandwich, I’ve got some good news for you: so, apparently, did many members of Congress.

Late Thursday night, in a surprising rebuke to the NSA’s lawyers and the White House – after they co-opted and secretly re-wrote the USA Freedom Act and got it passed – an overwhelming majority of the House of Representatives voted to strip the agency of its powers to search Americans’ emails without a warrant, to prohibit the NSA or CIA from pressuring tech companies to install so-called “back doors” in their commercial hardware and software, and to bar NSA from sabotaging common encryption standards set by the government.

What a difference the last year has made, you might say. Look what a little transparency can do!

Ana Marie Cox: The NRA has become self-aware. Will a rational US gun lobby finally prevail?

It took assault rifles at Chipotle, but bad PR may be the fault line to fracture the sane and un-sane, eventually giving America the kind of moderate pro-gun group it needs

This week, a Missouri town banned openly carrying firearms. The measure came after local businesses became concerned that the presence of guns might make tourists think twice about visiting: “We’ve had a tough time over the years promoting Lake Ozark as a family area,” a local politician told the Associated Press. “We want you to bring your kids down here and let them loose.”

Lake Ozark’s business community isn’t the first group in America to reasonably conclude that guns in the hands of citizens, rather than law officers, inspire fear and not trust. Recent demonstrations by Texas Open Carry have been so unpleasantly in-your-face that Chipotle, Chili’s and Sonic have now all banned guns from their premises – and even the National Rifle Association called them “downright weird” and “scary”. It’s almost funny how the confrontations that have made gun advocates reconsider their strategy – if not their ideology – are wholly symbolic and, while menacing, functionally harmless. Controversy over the mere sight of guns – and not, say, the slaughter of children – has finally got the gun nuts concerned about bad PR … and maybe about getting less nutty.

Of course, the NRA later distanced itself and attributed that statement to a single staffer and his “personal opinion” (a lone gunman, you might say). And the gun ban in Missouri has predictably enraged some.

Mona Eltahawy: Egypt Has a Sexual Violence Problem

There is a fierce battle raging in Egypt, and it’s not the one between Islamists and military rulers – the two factions that dominate most coverage of my country these days. The real battle, the one that will determine whether Egypt frees itself of authoritarianism, is between the patriarchy – established and upheld by the state, the street and at home – and women, who will no longer accept this status quo.

In recent weeks, Egypt has criminalized the physical and verbal harassment of women, setting unprecedented penalties for such crimes. But celebrations for the election and inauguration of our new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, were marred by sexual assaults, including a gang rape, in Tahrir Square. Last week, Human Rights Watch released a report on what it has called an “epidemic of sexual violence” in Egypt. A few days later, yet more sexual violence took place at a march against sexual violence.

Róisín Davis: It’s Time for Ireland to Stop Punishing Pregnant Women

In the wake of the Tuam scandal, the Irish government has announced that it will launch an investigation into the high mortality rates in its former mother and baby homes. For Ireland’s women, the culture of shame still lingers in the country’s archaic reproductive rights stance.

We now know that between 1925 and 1961, almost 800 children died in Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway. They were buried in an unmarked plot. No burial records were kept for individual children, and we would not have known of the mass grave but for local historian Catherine Corless’ painstaking research and her determination that the deaths be acknowledged. [..]

The best efforts of international entities such as Amnesty International, the U.N. Committee Against Torture and the U.N. Human Rights Committee have failed to make an impact on Ireland’s draconian stance on reproductive rights. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights found Ireland to have violated the rights of a woman seeking a termination in Britain.

It’s been estimated that from 1980 to 2012, at least 154,573 women living in Ireland traveled to England and Wales to access safe abortion services. This averages out to about 4,000 women per year. The actual number may be much higher, but stigma and discrimination impose a vow of silence.  

David Sirota: U.S. Government at War With Itself Over Civil Liberties

Over the past year, the United States government has been in the news a lot for its efforts to undermine the Internet’s basic privacy and security protocols.

There were the Edward Snowden revelations about the National Security Agency sweeping up metadata, paying contractors to embed backdoors into their security technologies, hacking various private accounts of network administrators and developing malware to infect computers.

There was the Washington Post story about the NSA’s “collect it all” ideology.

There was the CNET story detailing the government’s efforts “to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private Web communications from eavesdropping.” [..]

So with all that in mind, it seems more than a bit hilarious that the U.S. government has just posted its latest annual announcement about “funding for programs that support Internet freedom.” In that dispatch, the U.S. State Department says it is looking to support “technologies that enhance the privacy and security of digital communications” and that are “less susceptible to intrusion or infection.”

Yes, you read that right: The same U.S. government that has been one of the most powerful forces undermining Internet security is now touting itself as a proponent of Internet privacy and security.

Of course, when you are done laughing about this, remember that there may also be other, less funny subtexts to this story.

Richard Reeves: Americans Are Self-Segregating Based on Politics

A new Pew Research survey states that 50 percent of conservative voters and 35 percent of liberals say that it is important to live where most people share their political views-say, in New Kent County and Greenwich Village or San Francisco. That’s interesting stuff to those of us born in a time when “their own kind” meant Protestants, Catholics or Jews, Irish or Italian or Germans.

Now, “their own kind” means something different, and it also probably means more political and geographic polarization.

The devil in the details of the Pew survey taken between January and March includes numbers like these on marriage: Among self-identified conservatives, 30 percent say they would be “unhappy” if a family member wanted to marry a Democrat. And among Democrats, 23 percent say they would be unhappy if a family member were to marry a Republican. As for race, 1 percent of Democrats say they would be unhappy if someone in the family married someone of a different race. The corresponding number among conservatives is 23 percent.

So much for the melting pot early in this new century.

On This Day In History June 21

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.

June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 193 days remaining until the end of the year.

On non-leap years (until 2039), this day marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, and this is the day of the year with the longest hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere and the shortest in the southern hemisphere.

On this day in 1964, Civil rights workers disappear.

In Neshoba County in central Mississippi, three civil rights field workers disappear after investigating the burning of an African American church by the Ku Klux Klan. Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, both white New Yorkers, had traveled to heavily segregated Mississippi in 1964 to help organize civil rights efforts on behalf of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The third man, James Chaney, was a local African American man who had joined CORE in 1963. The disappearance of the three young men garnered national attention and led to a massive FBI investigation that was code-named MIBURN, for “Mississippi Burning.”

The Mississippi civil rights workers murders involved the 1964 lynching of three political activists during the American Civil Rights Movement.

The murders of James Chaney, a 21-year-old black man from Meridian, Mississippi; Andrew Goodman, a 20-year-old white Jewish anthropology student from New York; and Michael Schwerner, a 24-year-old white Jewish CORE organizer and former social worker also from New York, symbolized the risks of participating in the civil rights movement in the South during what became known as “Freedom Summer”, dedicated to voter registration.

The case also made salient the efforts of Jews in the civil rights movement.

The Lynching

The lynching of the three men occurred shortly after midnight on June 21, 1964, when they went to investigate the burning of a church that supported civil rights activity. James Chaney was a local Freedom Movement activist in Meridian, Michael Schwerner was a CORE organizer from New York, and Andrew Goodman, also from New York, was a Freedom Summer volunteer. The three men had just finished week-long training on the campus of Western College for Women (now part of Miami University), in Oxford, Ohio, regarding strategies on how to register blacks to vote.

After getting a haircut from a black barber in Meridian, the three men headed to Longdale, Mississippi, 50 miles away in Neshoba County, in order to inspect the ruins of Mount Zion United Methodist Church. The church, a meeting place for civil rights groups, had been burned just five days earlier.

Aware that their station wagon’s license number had been given to members of the notorious White Citizens’ Council and Ku Klux Klan, before leaving Meridian they informed other Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) workers of their plans and set check-in times in accordance with standard security procedures. Late that afternoon, Neshoba County deputy Cecil Price – himself a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan – stopped the blue Ford carrying the trio. He arrested Chaney for allegedly driving 35 miles per hour over the speed limit. He also booked Goodman and Schwerner, “for investigation.”

Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were all denied telephone calls during their time at the jail. COFO workers made attempts to find the three men, but when they called the Neshoba County jail, the secretary followed her instructions to lie and told the workers the three young men were not there. During the hours they were held incommunicado in jail, Price notified his Klan associates who assembled and planned how to kill the three civil rights workers.

While awaiting their release, the men were given a dinner of spoonbread, green peas, potatoes and salad. When the Klan ambush was set up on the road back to Meridian, Chaney was fined $20, and the three men were ordered to leave the county. Price followed them to the edge of town, and then pulled them over with his police siren. He held them until the Klan murder squad arrived. They were taken to an isolated spot where James Chaney was beaten and all three were shot to death. Their car was driven into Bogue Chitto swamp and set on fire, and their bodies were buried in an earthen dam. In June 2000, the autopsy report that had been previously withheld from the 1967 trial was released. The report stated Chaney had a left arm broken in one place, a right arm broken in two places, “a marked disruption” of the left elbow joint and may also have suffered trauma to the groin area. A pathologist who examined the bodies at the families’ request following their autopsies noted Chaney also had a broken jaw and a crushed right shoulder which were not mentioned in the autopsy report. As the autopsy photographs and x-rays have been destroyed, the injuries could not be confirmed.

The Breakfast Club (Yawn)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWhen you ask most people what constitutes ‘long-haired’ music (and I’m talking Classical, not Twisted Sister here) what springs immediately to their lips is MozartBachandBrahms and I’ve always thought that kind of funny because Johannes wasn’t even born until 42 years after Mozart’s death (83 after Bach’s) and strictly speaking is rightfully considered a revolutionary of the Romantic movement.  Still-

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the “purity” of these venerable “German” structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms’s works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

Of course now his best known work is his ‘Lullaby‘ which is just a part of a much larger piece, Wiegenlied, though it was written in honor of a baby born to his friend Bertha Faber.

Like many Romantics he drew his inspiration from folk music and tales though he never intended it to be representational or even evocative of a particular narrative or emotion, unlike other members of the movement.  The work I have selected today, Hungarian Dances, is fairly typical, inspired by traditional melodies fully scored and formally arranged they are among his most popular and profitable compositions.  Though there are 21 of them in all each one is mercifully short (1 to 4 minutes) and all put together they clock in at about 50 minutes.

Obligatories below.