Daily Archive: 11/22/2014

Nov 22 2014

Random Japan

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Nissin Cup Noodle is offering a promotional life-size water-dispensing cow

evie lund

Yes, you read that title correctly! As part of their promotional campaign for the “Milk Seafood” flavor of cup noodle, Nissin is giving away a life-size plastic cow water dispenser to one lucky instant ramen fan. Simply fill up your cow with water, wait for the cow to heat up, and then “milk” out as much hot water as you need to fill up your Cup Noodle. Join us after the jump for a look at the amusing commercial behind this wacky promotion!

The commercial is actually quite sweet and touching, and features a doting dad reading a story to his child.

Nov 22 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

Apples From Thanksgiving Start to Finish

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Apples will see their way from the beginning to the end of my Thanksgiving meal, starting with a chopped salad that pairs apples with walnuts and bitter lettuces (endive and chicory or radicchio). I made whole wheat apple-pecan scones that you can serve with the meal or eat for breakfast, and sautéed apple rings that make a very nice side dish with turkey (or serve them for dessert with ice cream). Apples and cranberries also add a new sweet dimension to my whole wheat bread stuffing. All this is not to discourage you from making apple pie; but if you want to make a dessert that is a little less demanding, try my now-favorite gluten-free apple-cranberry crumble.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Chopped Salad With Apples, Walnuts and Bitter Lettuces

A salad with a great mix of bitter and sweet flavors that is juicy, crunchy and comforting.

Whole Wheat Bread, Apple and Cranberry Dressing

Having grown up with Pepperidge Farm stuffing, I will always have a weakness for bread stuffing seasoned with sage and thyme, with plenty of chopped onion and celery.

Sautéed Apple Rings

An apple dish that can work on the breakfast table, as a side dish or even dessert.

Whole Wheat Apple Pecan Scones

Juicy apples work well in these not-too-sweet scones.

[Apple, Pear and Cranberry Pecan Crumble With Gluten-Free Topping http://cooking.nytimes.com/rec…

Cooking the apples first makes a huge difference in the sweetness of an apple crumble.

Nov 22 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: Mr. Obama’s Wise Immigration Plan

President Obama’s speech Thursday night on immigration ended on a high, hopeful note. Mr. Obama, quoting Scripture’s admonition to welcome and protect the stranger, told millions who have lived and worked here for years, many of them Americans in all but name: We cannot fix your situation yet, but for now we will not expel you, because we have better hopes for you here.

A speech is not a solution, of course, and now that it is over, the hard work begins. Efforts over the last decade to repair immigration have repeatedly ended in failure, leaving the meanness of the broken status quo. [..]

The reality of the status quo is paralysis, in which nobody is ever legalized and most people are never deported. That is another form of amnesty – the amnesty of inaction – though none on the right who oppose reform would ever admit it. The White House is beginning a campaign to defend its action by stressing the economic and law enforcement benefits of bringing millions in from outside the law. The most immediate and profound benefit is the lifting of fear in immigrant communities, even though perhaps half of the undocumented population will still be left out. Many parents will be excluded, and many families will be broken. Their struggle will continue.

Alan Grayson: The Womb Lottery

I’m happy that President Obama finally has moved forward with immigration reform. But the six-year-long White House Bad Messaging Plague (WHBMP) continues unabated. We’re in danger of losing the public on this issue even before the first work permit is issued.

President Obama’s executive order removes the loaded guns pointed at the temples of five million human beings, who also happen to be undocumented U.S. immigrants. It is an act of compassion and mercy that has eluded House Speaker John Boehner for years, his utterly hypocritical nattering about the urgent need for immigration reform notwithstanding. If Boehner had ever looked up from his shot glass, he might have seen their sad eyes and felt some urge to confer simple dignity on them.  [..]

Think of it this way: for whatever reason — lax enforcement of immigration laws, oppression in other countries, the need to survive, whatever — these five million people are our new sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. polite thing to do is to welcome them. Repeat after me: “Welcome to the American Family, and thank you for contributing to the American Experience.”

Alan Jerell Jones: The Long, Brutal History that Predicts Darren Wilson Will Get Off Scot Free

Darren Wilson will probably get let off.

It’s an outcome that will appall many Americans, sparking outrage not only in Ferguson but throughout the country. And despite all of that, it’s an outcome that will not surprise any black person, including yours truly. [..]

This isn’t knee-jerk pessimism at work here. To the black community, a non-indictment for Brown would be predictable. It would be as predictable as the verdict in the trial over the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a verdict that acquitted defendant George Zimmerman, allowing him to continue doing stupid things. Or as predictable as the involuntary manslaughter verdict handed down in the shooting death of restrained, unarmed, 23-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland. Or as predictable as the acquittal of police officers charged with killing unarmed Sean Bell in Queens, New York by firing 50 shots into his vehicle. As predictable as the acquittal of the police officers who fatally shot unarmed Amadou Diallo 19 times, killing him. As predictable as the acquittals in the infamous police beating of Rodney King. And so on, back to Emmett Till and before.

David Cay Johnston: Top incomes soared as tax rates fell

New IRS data show that just 400 households captured 6 percent of the entire nation’s income growth in 2010

For those at the very top 2010 will be remembered as a very good year. While most Americans struggled to recover from the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, top incomes soared while tax burdens for those incomes fell.

The 400 tax returns for those with the highest reported incomes showed 31 percent more income in 2010 than in 2009, when the recession officially ended at midyear. Soaring stock prices fueled the increase at the top.

On average incomes of $265.1 million the top 400 paid 18 percent in federal income taxes, down from 19.9 percent in 2009. The lowest tax on the top 400 was 16.6 percent in 2007.

Each of the top 400 paid tax at the same rate as a single worker making $80,000 in 2010. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, it took each of the top 400 about 40 minutes to earn that much.

These figures from an IRS report released Friday show how much government policy has helped those at the top amass even larger fortunes thanks to lower tax rates. It also shows how far the United States has moved away from the ancient principle of progressive taxation, born in Athens nearly 2,500 years ago and endorsed by political thinkers and economists from Aristotle and Adam Smith to Alfred Marshall and Milton Friedman

Ray McGovern: CIA’s Torturous Maneuvers on Torture

“CIA may revamp how it is organized” announced a front-page Washington Post headline leading into an article based on remarks by unnamed “U.S intelligence officials” to the Post’s Greg Miller. The anonymous officials were authorized to share some of the contents of a Sept. 24 letter from CIA Director John Brennan to CIA staff, in which Brennan says, “The time has come to take a fresh look at how we are organized as an agency.”

On Brennan’s orders, senior agency officials were put to work on what Miller reported would be “among the most ambitious [reorganizations] in CIA history.” But Miller’s sources emphasized that the activity was in its preliminary stages and that no final decisions had been made; the proposed changes might be scaled back or even discarded.

But the reorganization story on Thursday – with its suggestion of CIA “reform” – came at an opportune time to possibly distract attention from another behind-the-scenes battle that is raging over how – and indeed whether – to release the findings of a five-year Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s use of torture during George W. Bush’s administration and how the agency lied to Congress about the efficacy of torture techniques – and their humaneness.

Deborah Orr: Mike Nichols made films about women – sadly a rarity in Hollywood

If you count success in Oscar nominations, then Mike Nichols certainly didn’t fulfil his early promise. His 1966 debut film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, got 13 nominations and won five. His second, The Graduate, got a mere seven nominations and one win. The 20 other films he went on to make managed 22 nominations and one Oscar between them, for best song.

Nichols died this week, at 83, and the obituaries have been full of praise. But an Observer piece 10 years ago summed up, I think, the general feeling about his career as a film director: “Nichols is now regarded as a safe pair of hands in Hollywood, a mainstream, middle-brow director who is wonderful with stars.”

“Wonderful with stars.” Talk about being damned with faint praise. Nichols, actually, was wonderful at making films that offered realistic portrayals of women. Perhaps this went unnoticed because it has not, historically, been a Hollywood priority. But it was the outstanding feature of those two early films, and of many of his films since.

Quite a few of his movies have been about women or written by women. Silkwood starred Meryl Steep as a nuclear power whistleblower, and was written by Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen. Postcards from the Edge starred Streep again, as a drug-addicted actress, and was based on Carrie Fisher’s screenplay. Gilda Live was a film of Gilda Radner’s one-woman Broadway show. Two of his films, Primary Colors and 1996’s The Birdcage, were written by his former comedy partner of several decades earlier, Elaine May. Even the fact that the guy had a female comedy partner in the 1950s suggests that his view of women was notably progressive for its time.

Nov 22 2014

The Breakfast Club (Refrain, Audacious Tar)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgLast week we discussed the British composer Gustav Holst and the week before that Mendelssohn (boffo in Britain, I’m telling yah), and this week we’ve had a really excellent parody of I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General (which is of course nothing new, patter songs, particularly the very popular ones lyricized by W.S. Gilbert, are often laced with satiric contemporary references that performers update to reflect their own environment).

All of which means that it must be time to mention Arthur Sullivan.

Ok, I can see you shaking your heads out there, muttering WTF?  It’s perfectly obvious to me.  Major General is from the famous light Opera (sometimes called Operetta or Musical Theater), The Pirates of Penzance composed by Sullivan in collaboration with Gilbert.  Holst idolized Sullivan until he changed his allegiance to (shudder) Wagner.  Sullivan was the first recipient of the Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music when he was 14 years old.

See, clear as mud (and remember, mud spelled backwards is dum).  The important thing about my jokes is that they amuse me.

I’ll spare you a recapitulation of my career as Ralph Rackstraw, let’s just say I’m big with captive audiences in school assemblies and relatives who are supportive of macaroni and glue pictures.

But let’s talk about Artie for a while.  In the first place, he would have hated that nickname because he always considered himself a serious and dignified member of the conventional “Art” Music establishment and certainly not a mere tunesmith writing ephemeral crap for beer soaked groundlings in a Music Hall (which everyone knows is the next thing to a brothel anyway).  He composed 23 Operas, only 14 in collaboration with Gilbert, 13 oratorios and other major orchestral works, and 2 Ballets.  This in addition to many pieces of chamber music, piano sonatas, and hymns of which probably the best known is Onward Christian Soldiers.

But he fell into the company of Richard D’Oyly Carte, this kind of sinister Brian Epstein/Tom Parker character who made him fabulously wealthy by forcing him to write wildy popular ditties hardly worthy of his talent.

Though that was not the cause of his split with Gilbert, nope, they broke up over a carpet.

Throughout most of his association with Gilbert they had quarreled over the plots and themes of their work.  Gilbert was a decided populist and Sullivan entirely bourgeoisie.  They both considered themselves better than their commercially successful Operettas.  It was most often Sullivan who would threaten to quit and eventually Gilbert would respond with a libretto that was at least not totally unacceptable to Sullivan’s refined sensibilities and aristocratic asprations, but in the end it was Gilbert who walked away.

D’Oyly Carte used a lot of the money generated by their partnership to build a theater dedicated to staging their productions, the Savoy.  At best he wasted a lot of it on maintenance, at worst-

In April 1890, during the run of The Gondoliers, however, Gilbert challenged Carte over the expenses of the production. Among other items to which Gilbert objected, Carte had charged the cost of a new carpet for the Savoy Theatre lobby to the partnership. Gilbert believed that this was a maintenance expense that should be charged to Carte alone. Gilbert confronted Carte, who refused to reconsider the accounts.

After all, the carpet was only one of a number of disputed items, and the real issue lay not in the mere money value of these things, but in whether Carte could be trusted with the financial affairs of Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert contended that Carte had at best made a series of serious blunders in the accounts, and at worst deliberately attempted to swindle the others. It is not easy to settle the rights and wrongs of the issue at this distance, but it does seem fairly clear that there was something very wrong with the accounts at this time. Gilbert wrote to Sullivan on 28 May 1891, a year after the end of the “Quarrel”, that Carte had admitted “an unintentional overcharge of nearly £1,000 in the electric lighting accounts alone.”

So Gilbert sued Carte and won.  Sullivan supported Carte during this dispute and for a while the former collaborators barely spoke and created solo works that were resounding flops.  They were eventually reunited by their music publisher Tom Chappell, but their new productions (Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke) were not nearly as well received as their previous work.

Sullivan died in 1900, Gilbert in 1911.  Sullivan was considered by almost all his “serious” contemporaries a wasted genius.  Of course they all languish in deserved obscurity but you’ll find people like me performing H.M.S. Pinafore to this very day, partly because they are public domain (next time we chat about Sullivan I’ll try and concentrate on their copyright litigation).

The piece I have selected is not a collaboration with Gilbert but does have a connection.  It is a traditional “Grand” Opera, Ivanhoe.  It was originally staged at the Royal English Opera House which was built by Carte expressly for the purpose.  While moderately successful itself, Carte was unable to find enough suitable productions to make the Hall profitable and the Opera House was a commercial failure.

Unfortunately it’s in 13 parts so I’ll embed the playlist and hope that works-

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Nov 22 2014

On This Day In History November 22

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 22 is the 326th day of the year (327th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 39 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1990, Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister in British history, announces her resignation after 11 years in Britain’s top office.

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (born 13 October 1925) served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. Thatcher is the only woman to have held either post.

Born in Grantham in Lincolnshire, United Kingdom, Thatcher went to school at Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School in Grantham, where she was head girl in 1942-43. She read chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford and later trained as a barrister. She won a seat in the 1959 general election, becoming the MP for Finchley as a Conservative. When Edward Heath formed a government in 1970, he appointed Thatcher Secretary of State for Education and Science. Four years later, she backed Keith Joseph in his bid to become Conservative Party leader but he was forced to drop out of the election. In 1975 Thatcher entered the contest herself and became leader of the Conservative Party. At the 1979 general election she became Britain’s first female Prime Minister.

In her foreword to the 1979 Conservative manifesto, Thatcher wrote of “a feeling of helplessness, that a once great nation has somehow fallen behind.” She entered 10 Downing Street determined to reverse what she perceived as a precipitate national decline. Her political philosophy and economic policies emphasised deregulation, particularly of the financial sector, flexible labour markets, and the selling off and closing down of state owned companies and withdrawing subsidy to others. Amid a recession and high unemployment, Thatcher’s popularity declined, though economic recovery and the 1982 Falklands War brought a resurgence of support and she was re-elected in 1983. She took a hard line against trade unions, survived the Brighton hotel bombing assassination attempt and opposed the Soviet Union (her tough-talking rhetoric gained her the nickname the “Iron Lady”); she was re-elected for an unprecedented third term in 1987. The following years would prove difficult, as her Poll tax plan was largely unpopular, and her views regarding the European Community were not shared by others in her Cabinet. She resigned as Prime Minister in November 1990 after Michael Heseltine’s challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party.

Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister was the longest since that of Lord Salisbury and the longest continuous period in office since Lord Liverpool in the early 19th century. She was the first woman to lead a major political party in the United Kingdom, and the first of only four women to hold any of the four great offices of state. She holds a life peerage as Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire, which entitles her to sit in the House of Lords.

Nov 22 2014

Afghanistan: The Endless War

There are no words.

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat

President Obama decided in recent weeks to authorize a more expansive mission for the military in Afghanistan in 2015 than originally planned, a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions. [..]

The decision to change that mission was the result of a lengthy and heated debate that laid bare the tension inside the Obama administration between two often-competing imperatives: the promise Mr. Obama made to end the war in Afghanistan, versus the demands of the Pentagon that American troops be able to successfully fulfill their remaining missions in the country.