11/08/2014 archive

Random Japan

 photo screen-shot-2014-11-07-at-10-57-19_zps08127eb2.png

Check out this absolutely stunning drone video of Nagasaki’s Battleship Island in Ultra HD

 Audrey Akcasu

Nagasaki is known for having a lot of history, being the only port open to foreign trade during Japan’s long isolation in the Edo Period. But one of Nagasaki’s most captivating tourist attractions really isn’t that old – Hashima Island, better known as Gunkanjima, or Battleship Island. It’s eerie existence brings haikyo (urban ruins) fans from all over the world. If you can’t make it to the island yourself, or are unsatisfied with the limited visibility from the tour, wait no longer. Thanks to “Gunkanjima Archives,” an organization run by Nishi Nihon Newspaper, which is dedicated to bringing you photos and videos of the desolate island, you can now take an Ultra HD drone tour of the island in a spellbinding video.

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

John Oliver Calls Out Sugar Industry, Demands They #ShowUsYourPeanuts

Most food and beverage makers are fighting the proposed inclusion of an added sugars label on food packages. And, if there is a label, they don’t want sugars listed in teaspoons. They want it in grams, which Oliver says is because no one knows what a gram is.

So he’s offering a better solution. [..]

Since there are more than 5 grams of sugar in each circus peanut, Oliver said food makers should put a picture of one circus peanut on the front of the package for every 5 grams of sugar in the product.

“Do it, food makers. Expose your peanuts to the world. Because if you’re going to shove your peanuts in our mouths, the very least you can do is tell us what we’re swallowing.”

Oliver called on viewers to support this idea by tweeting food makers with the hashtag #ShowUsYourPeanuts.

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: Job Growth, but No Raises

The employment report for October, released on Friday, reflects a steady-as-she-goes economy. And that is a problem, because for most Americans, more of the same is not good enough. Since the recovery began in mid-2009, inflation-adjusted figures show that the economy has grown by 12 percent; corporate profits, by 46 percent; and the broad stock market, by 92 percent. Median household income has contracted by 3 percent.

Against that backdrop, the economic challenge is to reshape the economy in ways that allow a fair share of economic growth to flow into worker pay. The October report offers scant evidence that this challenge is being met. Worse, the legislative agenda of the new Republican congressional majority, including corporate tax cuts and more deficit reduction, would reinforce rather than reverse the lopsided status quo. [..]

The economy is not working for those who rely on paychecks to make a living, which is to say, almost everyone. Steady gains in the October jobs report, while welcome, do not change that basic fact. Nor will policies currently on the horizon.

Gail Collins: Republicans ♥ Pipeline

The Keystone XL oil pipeline is so popular! Ever since the Republicans won control of the Senate, it’s become the Taylor Swift of political issues. [,,]

If the Keystone project came up for a vote in the new Senate, it would probably draw enough Democratic support to hit the magic number of 60. Then it would be up to President Obama, who is constantly being criticized by Republicans for standing between America and a jobs-rich energy boom. This would be the same president who’s opened up massive new areas for oil exploration, increased the sale of leases for drilling on federal land and cut back on the processing time for drilling permits.

Story of Obama’s life. He trots down the center, irritating his base, while Republicans scream at him for failing to do something that he’s actually been doing all along.

In the end it’s completely up to the president. But the story is really about the Republicans. They’re about to take over Congress and show us how they can govern. So the first thing they’re going to do is hand a windfall to the energy interests that shoveled nearly $60 million into their campaigns? Terrific.

Joe Conason: Beneath the Republican Wave, Voters Still Reject Right-Wing Ideology

In the wake of the 2014 midterm “wave election,” Americans will soon find out whether they actually want what they have wrought. The polls tell us that too many voters are weary of President Barack Obama, including a significant number who actually voted for him two years ago. Polls likewise suggest that most voters today repose more trust in Republicans on such fundamental issues as economic growth, national security and budget discipline. But do they want what Republicans in control will do now?

If they are faithful to their beliefs, the Republican leaders in Washington will now seek to advance a set of policies that are simply repugnant to the public-most notably in the Paul Ryan budget, which many Republicans have signed up to promote (though the caucus of ultra-right Republicans considers that wild plan too “moderate”).

Eugene Robinson: In Need of a Rebuilding Plan

All right, all right, I didn’t see the wave coming. All those margin-of-error polls seemed to suggest that Democrats would likely hold their own-probably not keep the Senate but make a respectable showing overall. Wrong.

All the caveats are true. It was a midterm, when the incumbent president’s party usually gets a comeuppance. The Senate losses were within historical norms. In other races, some of the high-profile Republican victories involved incumbents who managed to survive after the scare of their political lives, such as Govs. Rick Scott of Florida, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Sam Brownback of Kansas.

But no, this turned out to be a genuine wave-one with serious implications for 2016 and beyond.

David Sirota: Tuesday Probably Meant Nothing for 2016

The dramatic, across-the-board victory engineered by Republicans in Tuesday’s elections would seem to bode well for the party’s chance to capture the White House in 2016. The GOP took full control of Congress, flipped at least four governor’s offices from blue to red, and prompted much talk of a resurgent Republican movement.

Not so fast. A more careful look at the returns significantly complicates the narrative that an American electorate, which recently tilted Democratic, has since shifted back to the Republican fold.

In fact, the 2014 election results appear to say more about who did not vote than who did: Younger voters and minority communities stayed home in large numbers, as is typical during a midterm election. If trends from the last two presidential elections hold, those same groups are likely to be far more energized during the next White House campaign, making Tuesday’s results of limited value in predicting 2016.

Richard Brodsky: Cuomo Wins!/Loses! III

Twice before in the last 60 days I’ve posted pieces with the above title. It was true then and it’s true now.

Normally a 13-point win in a down year for Democrats would be good news for the victor. But the Cuomo campaign and his overarching strategy of the past four years were political disasters of a kind you rarely see.

Remember 1) he raised close to $50 million, 10 times his opposition; 2) he had been widely praised for bringing functionality back to New York; 3) New York is reliably blue. One Republican statewide victory and 19 Democratic victories since 2000; 4) he had cajoled and bullied business, labor and the Legislature into submission; no one had ever heard of his opponent; and 5) going into 2014 his poll numbers were excellent.

In spite of all this, he ended up with a primary that was embarrassingly close, a general election that was 10 points worse than his last run and a resurgent progressive third party — the Green Party, of all things. Editorial boards either opposed him or explicitly held their noses and endorsed him. His campaign appearances were sour and depressing and voter turnout was the lowest in 85 years.

On This Day In History November 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.

November 8 is the 312th day of the year (313th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 53 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1793 the Louvre opens as a public museum. After more than two centuries as a royal palace, the Louvre is opened as a public museum in Paris by the French revolutionary government. Today, the Louvre’s collection is one of the richest in the world, with artwork and artifacts representative of 11,000 years of human civilization and culture.

The Musée du Louvre or officially Grand Louvre – in English the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. It is a central landmark of Paris and located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) which began as a fortress built in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are still visible. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of antique sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie

remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum, to display the nation’s masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoleon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon’s armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

The Breakfast Club (Better Than Mozart?)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgJakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, the very name tells a story of the pervasive anti-Semitism in pre-World War II Europe.

Mendelssohn’s Grandfather was the noted Jewish philosopher Moses and his Father Abraham a banker who was instrumental in breaking Napoleon’s Continental System which may explain Felix’s positive reception by the British.  Abraham was not very happy being a Jew, especially a notorious one, and declined to have Felix and his brother Paul circumcised.

After moving the family to Berlin from Hamburg in 1811, Abraham had Felix baptized in the Reformed Church where he acquired his Christian name- Jakob Ludwig.  Abraham himself renounced the name Mendelssohn and adopted the name Bartholdy from his wife’s family which itself had taken it from the name of some property in Luisenstadt that they owned.

Talk about your Oedipal issues-

Abraham later explained this decision in a letter to Felix as a means of showing a decisive break with the traditions of his father Moses: “There can no more be a Christian Mendelssohn than there can be a Jewish Confucius

Dysfunctional?  Hmm…

Felix’s sister Fanny was much more talented that he was but she was a girl so, you know, couldn’t actually do anything being property and all.  She hated the name and wrote him in 1829, “Bartholdy […] this name that we all dislike”.  Felix himself compromised and styled himself Mendelssohn Bartholdy out of deference to his Father.

Felix was restrained from displaying his musical talents at an early age by his Father (Hmm…) but they were apparent by the time he was 6.  In 1819 he and Fanny were allowed to study with Carl Friedrich Zelter who ran the orchestra at the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin.  They had an extensive collection of original J.S. Bach manuscripts and Felix became a big fan.

Zelter introduced Felix to his friend Wolfgang von Goethe in 1821.

von Goethe: Musical prodigies … are probably no longer so rare; but what this little man can do in extemporizing and playing at sight borders the miraculous, and I could not have believed it possible at so early an age.

Zelter: And yet you heard Mozart in his seventh year at Frankfurt?

von Goethe: Yes … but what your pupil already accomplishes, bears the same relation to the Mozart of that time that the cultivated talk of a grown-up person bears to the prattle of a child.

I guess it was the incessant fart jokes.

Felix led a short and presumably deeply unhappy life (Father a control freak self hating Jew?  Do the math.) passing at a young 38 from a series of strokes which his family was predisposed to.  As for his religious views, it’s a  matter of some dispute.  He was a conforming member of the Church, yet commissioned a complete collection of the writings of his Grandfather Moses and once wrote his sister Rebecka regarding her complaints about an unpleasant relative-

What do you mean by saying you are not hostile to Jews? I hope this was a joke […] It is really sweet of you that you do not despise your family, isn’t it?

He may or may not have had an affair with Jenny Lind the Barnum Sideshow Freak and while he was acclaimed by his contemporaries for his virtuosity, he was also regarded as a completely conventional frump.  He admired and patterned himself after Bach and his connection with the Romantic movement is that his compositions were designed to evoke emotion rather than as clever and catchy technical exercises.

Up until the acendancy of Hitler he was a respected, if minor, member of the German “Art” Music (I’m telling yah, boffo in Britain) Pantheon.  And then-

Ironically today is the 91st anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch.

Contemporary critics are back to the “well, he wasn’t revolutionary enough” stage which is an improvement I guess.  I’d agree with Friedrich Nietzsche

At any rate, the whole music of romanticism [e.g. Schumann and Wagner] … was second-rate music from the very start, and real musicians took little notice of it. Things were different with Felix Mendelssohn, that halcyon master who, thanks to his easier, purer, happier soul, was quickly honored and just as quickly forgotten, as a lovely incident in German music.

The reason “incident” is highlighted is some people think it’s condescending coming from Nietzsche.  I don’t mean to imply anything by it at all even though I endorse the gestalt of the comment as a whole (did I mention I’m part German on my Mother’s side?)- Schumann is totally forgetable, Wagner an insane raving egomaniac.

While Mendelssohn is best known for the Wedding March I choose to present instead Symphony #2 in B-flat major, entitled Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise) which is notable for it’s inclusion of a chorus and was written to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the printing press.


Obligatories, News and Blogs below.