10/18/2014 archive

Random Japan

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The ultimate guide to Kyoto ice-cream

    Hayashi ‘Fang’ Hougi

While the weather is gradually getting chillier as many parts of the world meander into autumn, we know we’ll never be able to give up the sweetest bit of summer – ice cream. You can never be too full, nor the weather too cold, for a bowl of that delicious, frozen goodness, and if you happen to be heading to Kyoto to catch the beautiful autumn leaves, you’ll be pleased to know that Japan’s most traditional city is positively brimming with ice cream at this time of year, and today we have a guide to some of the best out there.

Whether you’re into fruity flavors or traditional Kyoto desserts, or simply wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth, the ancient capital is bound to have something for you.

The Breakfast Club (Chocolate and Flowers)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo, Romanticism.  I’m conflicted.

In some ways it’s like admitting you have a sick fascination for fascism (which is by the way the political movement most closely associated with the intellectual impulse).

Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it was also a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education and the natural sciences. Its effect on politics was considerable and complex; while for much of the peak Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of nationalism was probably more significant.

The movement validated intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe-especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities: both new aesthetic categories. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to a noble status, made spontaneity a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu), and argued for a natural epistemology of human activities, as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage. Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to raise a revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be authentically medieval in an attempt to escape the confines of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism.

Enlightenment is too sterile and demanding.  The raw reductionism of rationality leads directly to a mundane Midlands mindset of grinding machination.  Creativity and animal passion replaced with cogwheels of clockwork conformity.  How is an artist to express themselves by appealing emotionally to the audience within the rigid formality of classical conventions?

Silly.  With more cowbells of course.

Yeah Romantic Music is the skull thumping big hair skinhead (part of it is ignoring the cacaphony of cognitive dissonance and instead succumbing to volume of environmental noise and pressure of your contemporaries) pierced tattoo sporting rebellious child of “art” that became instead the ironically normal bastard of spiritual sanctity until displaced by the truly nerdy in a snot sleeved glasses pushing tartan flannel shirt kind of way by the self-awareness of modernist (have I mentioned I’m in therapy?), post-modernist (therapy cures nothing and I need the eggs), and contemporary (without chemicals life itself would be impossible) environment.

Have I mentioned I’m into Techno?

I wanna tell you ’bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat

Comes out of the Virginia swamps

Cool and slow with plenty of precision

With a back beat narrow and hard to master

No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.

In addition to inspiring Hitler and Francis Ford Coppola Wagner’s Ring Cycle  embodies every bad thing you’ve ever heard about Opera.

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.  It smells like… victory.

Anyway, let the fat lady sing and get your sitz on for 15 hours of The Ring.

Das Rheingold

Die Walkure



Oh, Opera not enough for you.  Well Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s 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

Halloween Treats for Adults

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These are easy to make treats for adults. There are several others you can find here that are a bit more complicated for the daring.


Halloween Waffles

You need a waffle iron for these. They are great served with  Maple syrup, apple sauce or pumpkin butter

Peanut Brittle

The only thing even remotely tricky about it is getting the sugar to the tint of brown you want — not too light, and definitely not too dark, which can happen in a flash.

Caramelized Brown Butter Rice Krispies Treats

Browning the butter elevates these plebeian snacks into something more toothsome, and it adds just an extra couple of minutes to the process.

Microwave Pralines

The microwave makes this quick easy but it’s still very hot

Chocolate Truffles

Of all chocolates, truffles, at their richly creamy, intensely bittersweet best, are the ultimate chocolate confection.

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

David Sirota: Fracking for the Cure?

Helping find a cure for cancer or “pinkwashing” carcinogenic pollution?

That is the question being raised upon the news that one of the world’s largest fossil fuel services firms is partnering with the Susan G. Komen Foundation on a breast cancer awareness campaign, despite possible links between fracking and cancer.

According to energy services firm Baker Hughes, “The company will paint and distribute a total of 1,000 pink drill bits worldwide” as a “reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening and education to help find the cures” for breast cancer. The firm, which is involved in hydraulic fracturing, is also donating $100,000 to the Komen Foundation in what it calls a “yearlong partnership.”

The announcement comes in the same month Baker Hughes agreed to begin disclosing the chemicals it uses in the fracking process, publishing them at fracfocus.org, the industry’s website. Health advocates and environmental activists have long prodded the industry for full disclosure – especially since scientific studies have raised the prospect of a link between oil and gas exploration and cancer.

Daphne Eviatar: Secret Order Cancels Guantanamo Hearing on FBI Spying — Government ‘Transparency’ in Action

I really hope family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks weren’t planning on attending the hearings scheduled at Guantanamo Bay this week. It’s bad enough that observers who planned to travel to Cuba to watch federal prosecutors try to explain why the FBI was spying on U.S. military defense lawyers had their travel plans cancelled. But it would be completely demoralizing to someone who suffered personally from the heinous mass murders that took place thirteen years ago to find that once again, all efforts to bring the five alleged perpetrators to justice had stalled, and once again, no one’s allowed to know why.

The judge’s order cancelling this week’s hearings remains under seal.

This is just the latest setback in the 9/11 prosecution odyssey, which also serves as Exhibit A of the colossal failure that is Guantanamo Bay. While the government has successfully prosecuted nearly 500 people on terrorism charges in federal courts since 9/11, only six military commission convictions have been upheld. The Pentagon said a 64-minute Guantanamo hearing in September cost the government nearly $150,000. The Guantanamo prison itself costs the U.S. government more than $443 million annually to operate — more than $2.9 million per detainee.

Joe Nocerna: Failures of Competence

For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been the most trusted agency in the federal government. In 2003, when Gallup did a survey to determine what the public thought of various federal agencies, the C.D.C. topped the list, with 66 percent of respondents describing it as “excellent” or “good.”

Last year, a similar Gallup poll showed that the C.D.C.’s approval rating had dropped to 60 percent, which was still better than any other agency. The C.D.C. has seen the country through SARS and the swine flu virus. The general perception was not only that it did important, apolitical work, but that it was highly competent. “I used to call the C.D.C. the shining star of federal agencies,” says Lawrence O. Gostin, a global health expert at Georgetown Law.

And then came Ebola.

Gary Younge: With so many issues off the agenda, no wonder the midterms are a turn-off

Elections offer little chance of change as Republicans and Democrats steer clear of hot-button topics for party advantage

Midterm elections, or as Stephen Colbert calls them “the most tedious fall chore of all”, are a strange affair. Nationwide votes without national candidates (much like parliamentary elections) where the president’s performance is on the minds of voters even when he’s not on the ballot. Turnout drops but the consequences can be considerable and the outcomes memorable: 1994 brought us Newt Gingrich and welfare reform; 2006 was the beginning of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid; 2010 was the Tea Party and Obama’s “shellacking”.

But the forthcoming midterms seem stranger than most even when they should, theoretically, be as interesting as any. There is something at stake – a real chance the Republicans, who already have the House, could win the Senate. The key races are scattered across the country, from Alaska to North Carolina, and are and volatile. At the time of writing there are 10 states in play, in seven of which the two parties are essentially tied.

But precious few are interested. According to the Pew Research Center], in the first week of October fewer people followed stories about the midterms than they did stories about the bombing of Isis, the secret service scandal at the White House or the Ebola outbreak. Four years ago, when Pew conducted an identical poll at the same point in the cycle, twice as many were following the elections. A poll in 2006 revealed that 70% were talking politics with their family and friends, 43% were talking politics at work, and 28% were talking about it at church.

Joe Conason: Let Obama and the CDC Do Their Jobs

If the prospect of hanging concentrates the mind, then even the possibility of infection with Ebola should do the same-for all of us. Instead, we seem easily distracted by attempts to blame President Barack Obama and to scapegoat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Republican politicians and media loudmouths have even demanded the resignation of Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC’s director, because he’s refused to endorse a West African travel ban.

They’re all dead wrong. [..]

we will need in the months to come is a fresh assessment of our foreign aid programs. We need to understand why our traditional stinginess does both our country and our children a terrible disservice. Our best hope for survival, in the long term, is to notice how small our world has become-and to recognize that protecting our fellow human beings everywhere is the only way to protect ourselves.

On This Day In History October 18

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 18 is the 291st day of the year (292nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 74 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1767, Mason and Dixon Draw a line.

Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon complete their survey of the boundary between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as areas that would eventually become the states of Delaware and West Virginia. The Penn and Calvert families had hired Mason and Dixon, English surveyors, to settle their dispute over the boundary between their two proprietary colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.


Maryland’s charter granted the land north of the entire length of the Potomac River up to the 40th parallel. A problem arose when Charles II  granted a charter for Pennsylvania. The grant defined Pennsylvania’s southern border as identical to Maryland’s northern border, the 40th parallel. But the terms of the grant clearly indicate that Charles II and William Penn assumed the 40th parallel would intersect the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle, Delaware when in fact it falls north of Philadelphia, the site of which Penn had already selected for his colony’s capital city. Negotiations ensued after the problem was discovered in 1681. A compromise proposed by Charles II in 1682, which might have resolved the issue, was undermined by Penn receiving the additional grant of the ‘Three Lower Counties’ along Delaware Bay, which later became the Delaware Colony, a satellite of Pennsylvania. These lands had been part of Maryland’s original grant.

In 1732 the proprietary governor of Maryland, Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, signed a provisional agreement with William Penn’s sons which drew a line somewhere in between, and also renounced the Calvert claim to Delaware. But later Lord Baltimore claimed that the document he signed did not contain the terms he had agreed to, and refused to put the agreement into effect. Beginning in the mid-1730s, violence erupted between settlers claiming various loyalties to Maryland and Pennsylvania. The border conflict between Pennsylvania and Maryland would be known as Cresap’s War.

The issue was unresolved until the Crown intervened in 1760, ordering Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore to accept the 1732 agreement. Maryland’s border with Delaware was to be based on the Transpeninsular Line and the Twelve-Mile Circle around New Castle. The Pennsylvania-Maryland border was defined as the line of latitude 15 miles south of the southernmost house in Philadelphia.

As part of the settlement, the Penns and Calverts commissioned the English team of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to survey the newly established boundaries between the Province of Pennsylvania, the Province of Maryland, Delaware Colony, and parts of Colony and Old Dominion of Virginia.

After Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1781, the western part of this line and the Ohio River became a border between free and slave states, although Delaware remained a slave state.