Daily Archive: 12/20/2014

Dec 20 2014

Random Japan

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Darth Vader to be featured in large-scale snow sculpture at the 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival

 Michelle Lynn Dinh

The annual Sapporo Snow Festival held in Japan’s northernmost prefecture has been delighting tourists and locals for over six decades. Each year, artists from around the world are invited to show off their talents constructing enormous structures out of ice and snow.

To commemorate the release of the seventh installment of the Star Wars series, The Walt Disney Company has collaborated with festival officials to design what looks to be the most epic large-scale snow sculpture yet, featuring enormous snow versions of Darth Vader, three Storm Troopers, a TIE fighter, and the Death Star.

Sapporo Snow Festival officials recently announced the collaboration, marking the first large-scale snow sculpture licensed by Lucasfilm. The design will be made a reality in time for the 66th anniversary of the festival, scheduled to take place from February 5 to February 11, 2015.

Dec 20 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

For Hanukkah, Cooking With Oil

For Hanukkah, Cooking With Oil photo 15recipeforhealthalt-tmagArticle_zpse7511b1c.jpg

I used plenty of oil in this week’s recipes, but not as much as latkes require. The theme here is skillet-cooked vegetables. For most of the dishes my oil of choice is olive oil, as I instinctively turn toward the Mediterranean when I am working with produce. However I can easily imagine all of these dishes reconfigured for an Indian palate, with Indian spices and a neutral oil like grapeseed oil or ghee, or both, used as fats.

I chose vegetables that will brown a bit in a hot skillet – winter squash and brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes – and in several of the dishes I sneaked in some greens that had been previously blanched or wilted in the pan. They won’t crisp up or caramelize, but I love the way they enrich and contribute valuable nutrients to a recipe. From time to time I throw in some red or black quinoa as well, not as a main ingredient but almost as a garnish. In one dish, spaghetti squash served on a bed of spinach, I used two different oils, olive oil for cooking and walnut oil for drizzling.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Seared and Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Red Pepper and Mint Gremolata

Mint gremolata adds another layer of flavor to this combination.

Sautéed Potatoes With Black Kale and Nigella

A dish with just a bit of what we love so much about latkes: the delicious crispy edges.

Sautéed Spicy Carrots With Black Quinoa

A spicy mix of carrots, cumin, coriander and chile inspired by a classic Moroccan salad.

Sautéed Winter Squash With Swiss Chard, Red Quinoa and Aleppo Pepper

Bright orange squash is sweet and beautiful against chopped chard in this dish.

Baked and Sautéed Spaghetti Squash on a Bed of Spinach

Spaghetti squash gets a delicious nutty accent.


Dec 20 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

Trevor Timm: Enough with the Sony hack. Can we all calm down about cyberwar with North Korea already?

The sanest thing anyone said in Washington this week was a reminder, on the Friday before Christmas, when Barack Obama took a break from oscillating between reassuring rationality and understated fear to make an accidental joke:

   It says something about North Korea that it decided to mount an all-out attack about a satirical movie … starring Seth Rogen.

It also says something about the over-the-top rhetoric of United States cybersecurity paranoia that it took the President of the United States to remind us to take a deep breath and exhale, even if Sony abruptly scrapped its poorly reviewed Hollywood blockbuster after nebulous threats from alleged North Korean hackers.

Unfortunately, acting rational seems out of the question at this point. In between making a lot of sense about Sony’s cowardly “mistake” to pull a film based on a childish, unsubstantiated threat, Obama indicated the US planned to respond in some as-yet-unknown way, which sounds a lot like a cyberattack of our own.

Eugene Robinson: A Win for the Cuban People

President Obama’s historic opening to Cuba is long overdue-and has a chance of hastening the Castro dictatorship’s demise. Critics of the accord should explain why they believe a policy that has failed miserably for half a century could ever work.

What is it about Cuba that makes reasonable people take leave of their senses? The United States maintained full diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, hardly a couple of peaceniks, opened the door to China. History argues powerfully for engagement as the best way to deal with repressive, adversarial regimes. Yet hard-liners insist Cuba must be treated differently

David Sirota: The Treasury Secretary’s Misperceptions About Wealth

By Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s reckoning, being a millionaire does not constitute living high above the ranks of ordinary people. Lew said last week that back when he was in the private sector enjoying six- and seven-figure pay packages, “My own compensation was never in the stratosphere.”

Lew made that pronouncement as he sought to defend President Barack Obama’s embattled Treasury undersecretary nominee Antonio Weiss from charges that as a financial executive, he is out of touch with the interests of regular people. Lew was seeking to cast his own lot with the ranks of ordinary Americans at a time of growing economic inequality.

But in doing so, Lew shed light on a uniquely American phenomenon-the tendency of extraordinarily rich people to cast themselves as everyday members of the middle class.

David Cay Johnson: Full speed ahead on secretive trade deal

The record of trade agreements past is that the US loses and its competitors grow rich. The TPP will be no different

Early next year, after the 114th Congress begins meeting, a new Washington coalition will move quickly to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation trade agreement that will destroy American jobs, restrict individual liberty and burden American taxpayers. Oh, and it will do so without any real debate.

The coalition pushing approval consists of multinational corporations eager to escape the rigors of competition, Republican lawmakers who talk free markets but act as enemies of competition and President Barack Obama, as loyal a friend as Wall Street and multinational corporations have ever had in the White House.

The broad strokes of the proposed agreement show it is not about lowering the few remaining tariffs and trade barriers, with a few exceptions such as easing Japanese protections for domestic farmers so cheap California rice can be sold in Tokyo.

Joe Conason: On Cuba, Republicans Know Only Failure

Listen carefully to the Republican leaders and presidential hopefuls roaring with outrage over President Barack Obama’s courageous decision to normalize relations with Cuba; listen very carefully, because no matter how long or how closely you listen to them, there is one thing you will surely never hear.

You will never hear a new idea-or any idea-about bringing liberty, democracy and prosperity to the suffering Cuban people.

Instead, the furious denunciations of the president’s initiative from his adversaries reveal only an intellectual void on Capitol Hill, where the imperatives remain partisan and cynical. Everyone paying attention has known for decades that the frozen relationship between the United States and Cuba has accomplished nothing-except possibly the prolongation of the Castro regime, which has long considered the embargo a plausible excuse for its own economic failures and viewed the United States as a politically convenient enemy.

Susan Greenbaum: We don’t need a third Bush presidency

Jeb Bush’s track record as governor should make us fear his possible presidential run

Jeb Bush announced on Tuesday that he will establish a leadership PAC in January to explore prospects for a 2016 presidential run. Daily news items about him and strategic appearances in states with early caucuses and primaries signal that his intentions are serious. Described as a favorite of the Republican establishment, Bush has been touted as the best hope for a moderate and electable candidate.

But if his track record as governor in Florida is any indication, a Jeb Bush presidency is the last thing America needs.

Dec 20 2014

On This Day In History December 20

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.

December 20 is the 354th day of the year (355th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 11 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1803, the French hand over New Orleans and Lower Louisiana to the United States.

In April 1803, the United States purchased from France the 828,000 square miles that had formerly been French Louisiana. The area was divided into two territories: the northern half was Louisiana Territory, the largely unsettled (though home to many Indians) frontier section that was later explored by Lewis and Clark; and the southern Orleans Territory, which was populated by Europeans.

Unlike the sprawling and largely unexplored northern territory (which eventually encompassed a dozen large states), Orleans Territory was a small, densely populated region that was like a little slice of France in the New World. With borders that roughly corresponded to the modern state of Louisiana, Orleans Territory was home to about 50,000 people, a primarily French population that had been living under the direction of a Spanish administration.

The Louisiana Purchase (French: Vente de la Louisiane “Sale of Louisiana”) was the acquisition by the United States of America of 828,800 square miles (2,147,000 km2) of France’s claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S. paid 60 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of debts worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total sum of 15 million dollars for the Louisiana territory ($219 million in today’s currency).

The Louisiana Purchase encompassed all or part of 14 current U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The land purchased contained all of present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans. (The Oklahoma Panhandle and southwestern portions of Kansas and Louisiana were still claimed by Spain at the time of the Purchase.) In addition, the Purchase contained small portions of land that would eventually become part of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The purchase, which doubled the size of the United States, comprises around 23% of current U.S. territory. The population of European immigrants was estimated to be 92,345 as of the 1810 census.

The purchase was a vital moment in the presidency of Thomas Jefferson. At the time, it faced domestic opposition as being possibly unconstitutional. Although he felt that the U.S. Constitution did not contain any provisions for acquiring territory, Jefferson decided to purchase Louisiana because he felt uneasy about France and Spain having the power to block American trade access to the port of New Orleans.

Napoleon Bonaparte, upon completion of the agreement, stated, “This accession of territory affirms forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival who sooner or later will humble her pride.”

Dec 20 2014

The Breakfast Club (Nutcracking)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWelcome to my childhood trauma.  I have to be the only person in the world who doesn’t like The Nutcracker Suite.

When I was quite young my Mom and Dad took my sister and I to New York to see The Nutcracker Suite, I think they thought it would be ‘cultural’.

I do love the City and it was, overall, a quite enjoyable experience.  We saw all the animated windows on 5th Av., went to F.A.O. Schwarz, looked at the big tree (always feel kinda sad for those trees) and watched the skating (Mom and Dad wanted to do it, but I put my foot down because I had no desire to wait in a cold Disneyesque line for 5 minutes of skating I could easily do on a pond or rink at home).  We had an early Haunukka dinner with my Aunt and Uncle (the Bank VP with the carrel from which you could see the window if you gave it a good squint) and headed off for the show.

Now my Dad thinks that the reason I had a bad experience is our nosebleed seats and I’ll admit I have Acrophobia (no, it’s not crippling, I can stand heights if I need to but I’d much prefer otherwise and you daredevils who like to dance on the edge of a long fall and a short stop both make me nervous and annoy me because I might feel impelled to do something really stupid on the spur of the moment to save your sorry ass- I’d be much happier if I were just willing to mop up after).

Alas the real reason is more fundamental and does me less credit.  I’m not very graceful.

Rhythm has nothing to do with it.  I have a poor sense of kinesthesia, or more properly proprioception since my vestibular system works just fine thank you, even at height.

Even aesthetically the Terpsichorean muse and I hardly get along at all.

I have an intellectual appreciation of the athleticism and drill that goes into it, but the subtleties and symbolism are lost on me.  Now this may seem strange since my favorite interpreter of me is Gene Kelly who was known to cut quite a rug, but the choreography of Musical Theater is intended to appeal to low brow philistines like I am.

Ballet is too much.  The outlandish costumes, exaggerated gestures, difficult to follow plots with no dialog (I hate mimes too).  I can understand why some people like it (athletic men in codpiece tights!  women in revealing catsuits!) but I’d rather spend a day watching Noh (confused by most people with Kabuki which is actually more free form and Avant Garde), than an hour watching ballet.

But if you like that sort of thing and the cliched music of what even Pyotr Ilyich admitted was not his best work (he liked Sleeping Beauty better) here’s an interesting and high quality production by the Kirov (Mariinsky) Ballet-

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.