01/03/2015 archive

Throwball Playoffs 2015: Wild Card Afternoon NFC (Cardinals @ Panthers)

Won’t be around much for this one, places to go, things to do and really, who cares?  The Panthers are going to crush the Cardinals like bugs.  I wish it were different, the Cardinals are an original NFL team (1898) and match up better against the Seahawks who are otherwise going to have home field against the Packers, but they’ve lost 4 of their last 6 and are playing their 3rd string Quarterback.

The Panthers have won 4 straight (3 in the woeful NFC South, which is why they advance with a losing record and home field advantage).

If the Cardinals can stop the scramble they might win, but I’m not expecting much.

Game @ 4:35 on ESPN.  This is an open thread.

Random Japan

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Baskin Robbins’ new year lucky bags are Snoopy-tastic! (Also, free ice cream!)

 evie lund

We’ve been bringing you all the the details on the year’s best fukubukuro – or “lucky bags” – today, but no roundup of these wonderful New Year’s goodie bags would be complete without a visit to ice cream purveyor Baskin Robbins Japan. Let’s find out what frozen delights were hidden in their bag!

Baskin Robbins, known simply as 31 (Saatii wan) in Japan, is extremely popular among Japan’s ice cream aficionados. Not only do they offer a wide range of flavours, but they’re always running some kind of interesting deal or promotion, so we had high hopes for their New Year Lucky Bag! What tantalising treats could be lurking within? Our Japanese correspondent Debuneko went to find out!

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

Pastries to Ring In the New Year

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I’ve covered a number of good luck foods for the New Year in the Recipes for Health column, including beans, black-eyed peas and lentils, and greens. This year I had a lot of fun playing around with recipes for another type of good luck food: ring-shaped breads and pastries.

The rings symbolize the year’s coming full circle, and also eternity. Doughnuts come to mind, but that doesn’t quite fit the Recipes for Health profile. Neither do most bagels, even most whole wheat bagels (which are usually white bagels with a little brown flour thrown in).

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Peter Reinhart’s Whole Wheat Bagels

The magic of sprouted whole grain flours makes for delicious truly whole grain bagels.

Whole Wheat Sesame Rings (Simit)

A thick coating of sesame seeds gives this dense bread a delicious flavor.


A delicious rusklike Italian snack that is fragrant with olive oil.

Walnut Apricot Bundt Cake

A cake that is not too sweet and makes a perfect breakfast coffee cake or snack.

hole Wheat and Ricotta Bundt Cake With Lemon and Poppy Seeds

A dark and golden cake that has a wonderful moist texture, with a slight crunch.

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 Baord: Betting on Default

Imagine a lender demanding that you miss a payment. That is the situation described in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In 2013, GSO Capital Partners, the debt-investing arm of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, refused to renew a $122.3 million loan to the Spanish gambling company Codere unless it delayed paying interest on other existing debt. Why? It turns out that GSO had placed a bet that Codere’s existing debt would not be paid on time. When, lo and behold, the payment was late, GSO collected on its bet. [..]

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law was supposed to curb speculation in swaps. But as The Journal has reported, hedge funds are increasingly using swaps to wager on whether weak firms will live or die. RadioShack, the troubled consumer electronics retailer, is one of several prominent examples. In December, RadioShack’s total debt came to about $1.4 billion, but swaps outstanding on the performance of the debt totaled $23.5 billion. Similarly, J.C. Penney, the ailing department store chain, had total debt of some $8.7 billion, but swaps outstanding on the debt totaled $19.3 billion. [..]

The next crisis will differ from the last crisis in its origins and effects. But it is probably safe to assume that sooner or later, poorly regulated credit derivatives will again play a role in damaging the economy.

Edward D. Kleinbeard: A Republican Ruse to Make Tax Cuts Look Good

As Republicans take control of Congress this month, at the top of their to-do list is changing how the government measures the impact of tax cuts on federal revenue: namely, to switch from so-called static scoring to “dynamic” scoring. While seemingly arcane, the change could have significant, negative consequences for enacting sustainable, long-term fiscal policies.

Whenever new tax legislation is proposed, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office “scores” it, to estimate whether the bill would raise more or less revenue than existing law would. [..]

The Republicans’ interest in dynamic scoring is not the result of a million-economist march on Washington; it comes from political factions convinced that tax cuts are the panacea for all economic ills. They will use dynamic scoring to justify a tax cut that, under conventional scorekeeping, loses revenue.

When revenues do in fact decline and deficits rise, those same proponents will push for steep cuts in government insurance or investment programs, because they will claim that the models demand it. That is what lies inside the Trojan horse of dynamic scoring.

Amy Goodman: Climate Deniers, Like Big Tobacco, Thrive Behind a Smoke Screen of Doubt

It has been just over 50 years since U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released the groundbreaking report, “Smoking and Health.” The report concluded, “Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.” The tobacco industry intensified its campaign to defend smoking, funding bogus groups and junk science. Now, a similar war on the truth is being waged by the fossil-fuel industry to deny the science of climate change.

“Doubt is our product,” states a 1969 memo from the tobacco giant Brown and Williamson, “since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public.” Brown and Williamson was a member of “Big Tobacco,” along with Philip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco Company, U.S. Tobacco, Liggett Group, and American Tobacco. In 1994, the CEOs of these seven companies lied before Congress, claiming that nicotine was not addictive-even though secret research conducted by their corporations proved they knew otherwise. The image of the seven executives with their right hands in the air, swearing an oath to tell the truth, became an iconic image of a deceitful, deadly industry.

Joe Conason: GOP, Stop Making Excuses for Scalise

The unsavory story of Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican and House majority whip, should serve as a clear warning to the leaders of the Republican Party. They need to ask why their message attracts some of the most despicable elements in American society-and why they can’t effectively reject those extremists.

Despite many fervent vows of “outreach” and “inclusion” by top Republicans, they keep making the wrong choices. Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have expressed their confidence in Scalise despite his “mistake.” And the excuses they now offer on behalf of the man chosen for the third-highest position in their congressional caucus are rapidly eroding.

Michael Brenner: Know When to Fold ‘Em

Barack Obama reportedly takes pride in his skill as a card player. Poker is the prime game of politics and politicians. The president’s record suggests that he is something less than its master. The list of those who have fleeced him is a long and varied one. It includes: the Republican Congressional leadership (habitually); the Wall Street barons; Big Pharma; the Intelligence chiefs; Robert Gates; David Petraeus; Leon Panetta; Bibi Netanyahu (numerous occasions); King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia); Hamid Karzai; General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; Recep Tayyip Erdogan; and Bashar Assad. Indeed, there is only one group of players whom he beats regularly — the “liberals” whose gambling instincts have been honed in endless games of rainy-day Scrabble.

So, some advice on how to raise his game is in order. The popular country-and-western ballad The Gambler can serve as a rich source of pithy poker axioms. [..]

Barack Obama reportedly takes pride in his skill as a card player. Poker is the prime game of politics and politicians. The president’s record suggests that he is something less than its master. The list of those who have fleeced him is a long and varied one. It includes: the Republican Congressional leadership (habitually); the Wall Street barons; Big Pharma; the Intelligence chiefs; Robert Gates; David Petraeus; Leon Panetta; Bibi Netanyahu (numerous occasions); King Abdullah (Saudi Arabia); Hamid Karzai; General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi; Recep Tayyip Erdogan; and Bashar Assad. Indeed, there is only one group of players whom he beats regularly — the “liberals” whose gambling instincts have been honed in endless games of rainy-day Scrabble.

So, some advice on how to raise his game is in order. The popular country-and-western ballad The Gambler can serve as a rich source of pithy poker axioms.

On This Day In History January 3

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.

January 3 is the third day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 362 days remaining until the end of the year (363 in leap years). The Perihelion, the point in the year when the Earth is closest to the Sun, occurs around this date.

On this day in 1938, The March of Dimes is established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

March of Dimes is an American health charity whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Polio was one of the most dreaded illnesses of the 20th century, and killed or paralyzed thousands of Americans during the first half of the 20th century. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March of Dimes as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis on January 3, 1938. Roosevelt himself was paralyzed with what at the time was believed to be polio, though recent examination has led some to suggest that this diagnosis might have been mistaken. The original purpose of the Foundation was to raise money for polio research and to care for those afflicted with the disease. The name emphasized the national, nonpartisan, and public nature of the new organization, as opposed to private foundations established by wealthy families. The effort began with a radio appeal, asking everyone in the nation to contribute a dime (ten cents) to fight polio.

“March of Dimes” was originally the name of the annual fundraising event held in January by the Foundation. The name “March of Dimes” for the fundraising campaign was coined by entertainer Eddie Cantor as a play on the popular newsreel feature of the day, The March of Time. Along with Cantor, many prominent Hollywood, Broadway, radio, and television stars served as promoters of the charity. When Roosevelt died in office in 1945, he was commemorated by placing his portrait on the dime. Coincidentally, this was the only coin in wide circulation which had a purely allegorical figure (Liberty) on the obverse. To put Roosevelt on any other coin would have required displacing a president or founding father.

Over the years, the name “March of Dimes” became synonymous with that of the charity and was officially adopted in 1979.

The Breakfast Club (Légion d’Honneur)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo Thomas Piketty has turned down the Légion d’Honneur.

Piketty’s snub

The Economist

Jan 2nd, 2015

With a popularity rating below 20%, France’s Socialist president, François Hollande, is no stranger to criticism. But the decision on January 1st by Thomas Piketty, a French economist and bestselling author of “Capital in the 21st Century“, to refuse the award of the Légion d’Honneur was a cruel snub. Close to the Socialist Party, Mr Piketty backed Mr Hollande for election in 2012. Now he says that his government “would do better to concentrate on reviving growth in France and Europe” rather than handing out honours.

(H)e has in the past voiced two broad criticisms of Mr Hollande, whose presidency he recently called a “disaster”.

First is Mr Hollande’s failure to press his case in the euro zone for less austerity and more pro-growth policies. During his election campaign, Mr Hollande promised to put an end to austerity in the currency area. In office, he then tried to rally a “club Med” group of Mediterranean euro-zone countries in an effort to force the hand of Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. But it came to little, and Mr Hollande’s political weakness now is such that he has constantly been defeated by German intransigence.

Mr Piketty’s second criticism touches on Mr Hollande’s tax policy. For years the French economist has argued for a more progressive tax system, which would merge both income tax, currently paid by only half of French households, and the “contribution sociale généralisée“, a non-progressive social charge paid by all. This too was one of Mr Hollande’s campaign promises. Yet the president has shelved any plans to overhaul the tax structure, preferring instead simply to increase taxes on the middle-classes and the rich.

Paradoxically, the one measure brought in by Mr Hollande that Mr Piketty did approve of was a top income-tax rate of 75%. An advocate of a global wealth tax, Mr Piketty once said approvingly of this flagship campaign proposal that “lots of other countries will inevitably follow this route.” Instead, the French government quietly let the 75% tax die on December 31st 2014.

As it turns out he has a lot of company.

French economist Thomas Piketty turns down the Legion of Honor

By Martina Stewart, Washington Post

January 2 at 3:47 AM

In April, New York Times columnist and liberal economist Paul Krugman called the book “a bona fide phenomenon.” And Krugman observed that the book “demolishes that most cherished of conservative myths, the insistence that we’re living in a meritocracy in which great wealth is earned and deserved.”

The Legion of Honor is France’s “premier award,” according to the French Embassy in the United States. It was created by Napolean Bonaparte “to recognize eminent accomplishments of service to France.” It “is made up of three ranks – chevalier, officier, commandeur – and two high offices – grand officier and grand croix.” The Legion of Honor has an Order of Academic Palms that recognizes accomplishments in the areas of teaching, scholarship and research.

In turning down the award, Piketty was in good company. Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Georges Brassens and Pierre Curie all turned down the honor, as did Maurice Ravel, according to the New York Times.

Piketty’s animosity towards the award appears to stem in part from differences with the administration of French President Francois Hollande. “There is a degree of improvisation in Francois Hollande’s economic policy that is appalling,” he said in June, according to Reuters.

Which will bring us back to Doh, Doh, Doh, Doh and Maurice Ravel (these pieces are about Art Music, News is merely bait and pandering).

Now most United States audiences will recognize Ravel as the composer of Bolero which gentlemen of a certain age have been using to time their climaxes (anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the enthusiasm of the conductor) without resorting to Baseball statistics, the homoeroticism of Throwball (’tis the season of accepting the casual butt slap, the between the legs center snap, the gang shower towel snap, and having your team mate stick their penis in your ear while shouting “YOU KNOW YOU WANT SOME OF THIS, MAN!”), or unfavorably comparing their current partner to Bo Derek or Marge Simpson.

Yes ladies, I know I’m no Gene Kelly either.  As my Sainted Aunty Mame said- that’s why they invented lights.

Surprisingly enough very little is known of Ravel’s romantic life which has led some to speculate he was an extremely closeted homosexual.  Considering that Cosmopolitan Europe in general and Paris in particular was amazingly tolerant, while I admit the possibility I have no difficulty at all accepting his own explanation, which was that he was married to his work.  This is the way I feel about things and one of the reasons I score so high on the Sherlock scale (though I’m a polymath and not a specialist) and don’t have problems working with women as colleagues or superiors.

Harry: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.

Harry: No you don’t.

Sally: Yes I do.

Harry: You only think you do.

Sally: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?

Harry: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.

Sally: How do you know?

Harry: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.

Sally: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?

Harry: No. You pretty much want to nail ’em too.

Have I mentioned Harry is a pretty big asshole?  I’m telling you without pervasive cultural brainwashing and Rom-Com (what’s so damn romantic about it anyway?) people like him would never, ever get laid which would go far in improving the gene pool.

So, was it good for you?

Back to the Cheese Shop-

What a senseless waste of human life.

If you think your companion an enthusiast of the Terpsichorean muse, take them dancing.  Dancing is all about sex.  It makes the mid-back and shoulder erogenous zones, the touch of the hand an electric zap, the scent of pheromones an exotic perfume.

Ballet on the other hand is an esoteric intellectual enterprise, a soulless display of Athleticsm and Art deliberately stylized to remove any icky feelings other than pity.  Feigning an appreciation for it is the preening of a peacock.  If you’re not staring at the company considering who can crush you with their thighs, you’re probably surreptitiously checking your iPhone for the latest scores and longing for the sweet release of Death.

My suggestion is that you close your eyes and tell your companion that you’re trying to appreciate the music (some of which is not so bad) and if you fall asleep pray that you don’t snore or drool on yourself too much.

Today’s case in point- Daphnis et Chloé.

Ravel called it a “symphonie choréographique” (choreographic symphony) and it was commissioned by Diaghilev, unlike most Ballets (and Operas) it has a happy ending.

The intervention of Pan is manifest. The old shepherd Lammon explains that, if Pan has saved Chloe, it is in memory of the nymph Syrinx, whom the god once loved. Daphnis and Chloe mime the tale of Pan and Syrinx. Chloe plays the young nymph wandering in the meadow. Daphnis as Pan appears and declares his love. The nymph rebuffs him. The god becomes more insistent. She disappears into the reeds. In despair, he picks several stalks to form a flute and plays a melancholy air. Chloe reappears and interprets in her dance the accents of the flute. The dance becomes more and more animated and, in a mad whirling, Chloe falls into Daphnis’s arms. Before the altar of the Nymphs, he pledges his love, offering two sheep. A group of girls enters dressed as bacchantes, shaking tambourines. Daphnis and Chloe embrace tenderly. A group of youths rushes onstage. There is joyful commotion.

A joyful commotion, what’s not to like?  Unless you’re an unlucky sheep of course.

I’m sure I’ve told you about grandfather’s old ram.

You see, Sile Hawkins was-no, it warn’t Sile Hawkins, after all-it was a galoot by the name of Filkins-I disremember his first name; but he was a stump-come into pra’r meeting drunk, one night, hooraying for Nixon, becuzhe thought it was a primary; and old deacon Ferguson up and scooted him through the window and he lit on old Miss Jefferson’s head, poor old filly. She was a good soul-had a glass eye and used to lend it to old Miss Wagner, that hadn’t any, to receive company in; it warn’t big enough, and when Miss Wagner warn’t noticing, it would get twisted around in the socket, and look up, maybe, or out to one side, and every which way, while t’other one was looking as straight ahead as a spyglass. Grown people didn’t mind it, but it most always made the children cry, it was so sort of scary. She tried packing it in raw cotton, but it wouldn’t work, somehow-the cotton would get loose and stick out and look so kind of awful that the children couldn’t stand it no way. She was always dropping it out, and turning up her old dead-light on the company empty, and making them oncomfortable, becuz she never could tell when it hopped out, being blind on that side, you see. So somebody would have to hunch her and say, ‘Your game eye has fetched loose, Miss Wagner dear’-and then all of them would have to sit and wait till she jammed it in again-wrong side before, as a general thing, and green as a bird’s egg, being a bashful cretur and easy sot back before company. But being wrong side before warn’t much difference, anyway, becuz her own eye was sky-blue and the glass one was yeller on the front side, so whichever way she turned it it didn’t match nohow.

Oh, yeah.  So here’s grandfather’s old ram Daphnis et Chloé in a 9 part playlist performed by the Royal Ballet.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.