Daily Archive: 11/01/2014

Nov 01 2014

Random Japan

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Shibuya celebrates Halloween costumes and huge crowds

 Michelle Lynn Dinh

While you might not see a lot of trick or treaters out in Japan, if you find yourself in Tokyo, specifically Shibuya, you’re sure to see some original and inspiring costumes. Let’s take a look at some of the best homemade and store-bought costumes spotted in Shibuya this Halloween.

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Nov 01 2014

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

The Pleasure of Bitter Greens

Recipes for Health The Pleasure of Bitter Greens photo 23recipehealthalt-tmagArticle_zps02408d5f.jpg

Bitter greens taste bitter in part because of the presence of certain phytochemicals, which some studies have shown to have antioxidant attributes. We have always known that these greens are healthy and as scientists learn more about the compounds that contribute to their bitter flavors, we are beginning to understand why.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Stir-Fried Tofu and Escarole

This dish combines four elements, hot, sour, sweet and bitter, for a delicious result.

Wild Arugula, Celery and Apple Salad With Anchovy Dressing

A salad with a delicious play of bitter, pungent, sweet and salty flavors.

Endive Salad With Blue Cheese Dressing

A new, more flavorful twist on an American classic

Penne With Radicchio and Goat Cheese

Bitter greens combines with creamy goat cheese for an irresistible result.

Seared or Grilled Radicchio With Walnut Anchovy Sauce

A delicious blend of salty anchovies, pungent garlic and nutty walnuts makes the perfect sauce for seared or grilled radicchio.

Nov 01 2014

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 Board: Deceptions of the F.B.I.

If your Internet service goes down and you call a technician, can you be certain that the person who arrives at your door is actually there to restore service? What if he is a law enforcement agent in disguise who has disabled the service so he can enter your home to look around for evidence of a crime?

Americans should not have to worry about scenarios like this, but F.B.I. agents used this ruse during a gambling investigation in Las Vegas in July. Most disturbing of all, the Justice Department is now defending the agents’ actions in court. [..]

The F.B.I. has a history of pushing the limits that protect Americans’ civil liberties. And it has continued to broaden agents’ investigative powers in troubling ways. The deceptive tactics used in Las Vegas and Seattle, if not prohibited by the agency or blocked by courts, risk opening the door to constitutional abuses on a much wider scale.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: In Big-Money Move, Corporations Seek to Make Congress a Wholly-Owned Subsidiary

As Election Day approaches, two reports show us exactly how corrupted our political system has become. Unless voters come out in force, it looks like corporate money is about to buy itself another house of Congress.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed filings from the Federal Election Commission and concluded that

   In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators.

The Journal found that corporate PACs gave most of their donations to Democrats in the early part of the campaign. That fits with a longstanding pattern: big-business interests shower incumbents with money to encourage special treatment, both during the election year and in the upcoming term.

But giving has shifted dramatically since June. The Journal discovered that Republican candidates received the lion’s share of corporate campaign contributions in the July-to-September time period. The cash-generating power of incumbency had faded — for Democrats.

Eugene Robinson: What Would Republicans Do?

No matter how well Republicans do at the polls Tuesday-and my hunch is they won’t do as well as they hope-the GOP won’t be able to claim any kind of mandate. That’s because they have refused to articulate any vision for governing.

I do not celebrate this failure. I’ve always believed the nation’s interest is best served by competition in the marketplace of ideas. An innovative, forward-looking conservative platform would force those of us who call ourselves progressives to update and sharpen our own thinking.

Sadly, this year’s campaign has been dull and disheartening. It is a testament to the cynicism of our times that the failure of most candidates to say anything meaningful is intentional. The near-universal message isn’t “vote for me.” It’s “vote against my opponent.”

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The dominant Republican message is an exhortation to vote against someone who’s not on any ballot: President Obama.

Ralph Nader: Be a Passionate Voter for Justice

Millions of Americans displayed passion and fevered interest in the recent exciting World Series championship. Now it’s time to move on to a serious matter of national importance that often suffers from a lack of public enthusiasm. Millions of Americans, many of whom are avid sports fans, are suffering due to low wages, income inequality, and a gridlocked Congress that is obsessed with campaign fundraising and incapable of addressing many of country’s most pressing needs, from public investments to fair play for working families.

With Election Day just days away, now is the perfect time to transfer some of that passion and energy for sports into the political realm. After all, there is far more on the line than just a championship and bragging rights. And elections are not a spectator sport — you need to be on the field yourself!

Just imagine if the majority of eligible voters had the same dedication and diligence as sports fans who know all the stats and figures, the players, and the management hierarchy. Imagine if voters were as informed, passionate and vocal as baseball fans.

David Sirota: Is the Minimum Wage Really a Living Wage?

Under pressure to raise his state’s minimum wage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker confidently declared that there was no need to do so. Low-wage workers had filed a complaint charging that the state’s minimum wage-$7.25-did not constitute a “living wage” as mandated by state law. But the Republican governor’s administration, after examining the issue, announced earlier this month that it found “no reasonable cause” for the complaint.

That official government finding was supposed to come from a dispassionate investigation. Yet, documents reveal that it was largely based on information provided by the state’s restaurant lobby, which represents major low-wage employers including fast-food companies.

Indeed, the Raise Wisconsin campaign, which is pushing for a higher minimum wage, requested all documents on which the state based the “living wage” ruling. And the only economic study that the administration released in response was an anti-minimum-wage analysis from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association-a group that lobbies against minimum wage increases.

Joe Conason: Plutocrat or Populist? Actually, Hillary Clinton Is Neither

As America’s biggest political target-a status she is likely to enjoy for the foreseeable future-Hillary Clinton takes incoming fire of every caliber from all directions. One day her words are ripped from context to depict her as a plutocratic elitist; on another day, she is quoted, selectively, to prove that she is a raving populist. And on still another day last week, when she was campaigning in North Carolina for Sen. Kay Hagan, a right-wing rag tarred her as a “plutocratic populist.”

Her partisan critics never worry about such ludicrous contradiction, as long as they can keep pumping out the cheap shots. Having endured the same tactics in the White House, the Senate and the State Department, in campaigns and in daily life, she must find it all boringly familiar by now.

So far, her popularity has remained remarkably durable-but the constant effort to sow confusion about her sympathies, positions and policies, especially on economic issues, still deserves rebuttal.

Nov 01 2014

On This Day In History November 1

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 1 is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 60 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1512, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, one of Italian artist Michelangelo’s finest works, is exhibited to the public for the first time.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508 to repaint the vault, or ceiling, of the Chapel. It was originally painted as golden stars on a blue sky. The work was completed between 1508 and 2 November 1512. He painted the Last Judgment over the altar, between 1535 and 1541, on commission from Pope Paul III Farnese.

Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the commission, and made it known from the outset of Julius II’s approach that he would prefer to decline. He felt he was more of a sculptor than a painter, and was suspicious that such a large-scale project was being offered to him by enemies as a set-up for an inevitable fall. For Michelangelo, the project was a distraction from the major marble sculpture that had preoccupied him for the previous few years.To be able to reach the ceiling, Michelangelo needed a support; the first idea was by Julius’ favoured architect Donato Bramante, who wanted to build for him a scaffold to be suspended in the air with ropes. However, Bramante did not successfully complete the task, and the structure he built was flawed. He had perforated the vault in order to lower strings to secure the scaffold. Michelangelo laughed when he saw the structure, and believed it would leave holes in the ceiling once the work was ended. He asked Bramante what was to happen when the painter reached the perforations, but the architect had no answer.

The matter was taken before the Pope, who ordered Michelangelo to build a scaffold of his own. Michelangelo created a flat wooden platform on brackets built out from holes in the wall, high up near the top of the windows. He stood on this scaffolding while he painted.

Michelangelo used bright colours, easily visible from the floor. On the lowest part of the ceiling he painted the ancestors of Christ. Above this he alternated male and female prophets, with Jonah over the altar. On the highest section, Michelangelo painted nine stories from the Book of Genesis. He was originally commissioned to paint only 12 figures, the Apostles. He turned down the commission because he saw himself as a sculptor, not a painter. The Pope offered to allow Michelangelo to paint biblical scenes of his own choice as a compromise. After the work was finished, there were more than 300. His figures showed the creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Great Flood.

Nov 01 2014

The Breakfast Club (Rocket Science)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSaturday Science Special

Once again there have been fatalities in the pursuit of manned space flight and I mourn the loss just as everyone does.

But you know folks, they call it Rocket Science for a reason and even after a century of development (I personally date it from the work of Robert Goddard which is terribly parochial of me, some would date it from the work of Konstantin Tsiolkovsk in 1903) it’s still an extremely dangerous undertaking.

A century you say?  Well, two of Goddard’s patents, those for liquid fuel and multiple stages, were granted in 1914.

His 1919 monograph A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes is considered one of the classic texts of 20th-century rocket science. Goddard successfully applied three-axis control, gyroscopes and steerable thrust to rockets, to effectively control their flight.

Although his work in the field was revolutionary, Goddard received very little public support for his research and development work. The press sometimes ridiculed his theories of spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work.

Even way back when (1920) the Grey Lady often missed the point-

A Severe Strain on Credulity

As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even highest, part of the earth’s atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard’s multiple-charge rocket is a practicable, and therefore promising device. Such a rocket, too, might carry self-recording instruments, to be released at the limit of its flight, and conceivable parachutes would bring them safely to the ground. It is not obvious, however, that the instruments would return to the point of departure; indeed, it is obvious that they would not, for parachutes drift exactly as balloons do. And the rocket, or what was left of it after the last explosion, would need to be aimed with amazing skill, and in a dead calm, to fall on the spot whence it started.

But that is a slight inconvenience, at least from the scientific standpoint, though it might be serious enough from that of the always innocent bystander a few hundred or thousand yards from the firing line.

[A]fter the rocket quits our air and really starts on its longer journey, its flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by the explosion of the charges it then might have left. To claim that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are licensed to do that.

His plan is not original

That Professor Goddard, with his “chair” in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react-to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

Umm… bright boy, action reacts against the body providing the action (thrust), not against the density of the medium being traveled.  If anything it’s easier because you don’t have to account for drag and, not that I’m a math whiz or anything, when you study Newton in basic Physics a vacuum is always assumed because it makes the equations so much simpler.

While I like to imagine myself a brave revolutionary who’d tell The New York Times to piss up a rope (usually messy but theoretically possible given a rope with the right kind of capillary action) in fact I’d probably do what Goddard did and skulk away reclusively, muttering imprecations under my breath.

To their credit The Times did retract, one day after the launch of Apollo 11 and a mere 24 years after his death-

A Correction

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

I thought it especially magnanimous that they recognized that they had misunderstood Newton’s equations, which were after all published in 1687.

There is no getting around the fact that spaceflight is inherently dangerous.  Just getting to orbit is basically like shoving a stick of dynamite up your butt and hoping for good things to happen, let alone the difficulties of a hostile environment and a high speed fall (I think jumping off buildings is fun, don’t you?).

That Richard Branson is marketing this as “Adventure Tourism” seems the height (heh, he said height) of irresponsibility to me though I can’t wait for the day when (your least liked celebrity, arrogant asshole capitalist, or corrupt politician here) burns up in a Stratospheric fireball.

I’ll be sad.  Of course I will.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes in New Setback for Commercial Spaceflight


OCT. 31, 2014

The pilots, who have not yet been identified, were flying the plane for Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company created by the entrepreneur Richard Branson, and Scaled Composites, the company that designed and built the plane.

One pilot was able to parachute from the plane and was taken to a hospital with “moderate to major injuries,” said Ray Pruitt, the public information officer for the Kern County sheriff’s office in California.

The test was the first time SpaceShipTwo had flown using a new, plastic-based rocket fuel.

It was the second major accident in a week for the commercial space industry, which has been widely promoted in recent years as an alternative to costly government programs. On Tuesday, an unmanned rocket launched by Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., which was carrying cargo to the International Space Station, exploded 15 seconds after launching.

The list of would-be astronauts includes celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber and Angelina Jolie.

Experts said it was too soon to tell when the effort would resume. “Virgin was out ahead of everyone else for space tourism,” said Michael Blades, the aerospace and defense industry senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan, a market research and consulting firm. “It will still happen, but it has been pushed way to the right.

“It is just like any kind of other new technology, especially when it comes to flight,” he continued. “You have your tests and you have your failures.”

Marco Caceres, director of space studies at the Teal Group, a consulting firm, said that “in an age where it is very expensive to fly these vehicles, the pressure is to do the minimal amount of test flying.”

“So that may be something we have to take a look at,” he continued. “Everyone seems to be in need of more money to conduct more flights, so the pressure is to start operational flight too soon. Maybe we are being unreasonable here.”

Patricia Hynes, director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium, who organizes an annual symposium for people in the commercial space industry, said the accident “helps people understand why it’s never been done before.”

“This is a tough business,” she said.

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