01/31/2015 archive

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.

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True Grits

Anson Mills Polenta or Grits with Beans & Chard photo recipehealthwellpromo-tmagArticle_zpsc9fdecde.jpg

Most life-changing food experiences involve exotic or high-end foods like truffles. But my latest life-changing food experience involved humble grits and polenta – cornmeal mush. [..]

And I have long been a polenta enthusiast, but I was mostly content with my generic oven-baked polenta. But Italian heirloom corn, ground with 17th and 18th century artisan techniques, is an altogether different dish. I cook it on top of the stove, not in the oven. It has a creamier texture and more intense corn/floral flavor and aroma than any polenta I have cooked in the past.

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Simple Pencil Cob Breakfast Grits

A humble, simple dish with luxurious flavor.

Pencil Cob Grits Rancheras

Grits make a delicious substitute for the traditional corn tortillas in this dish.

Soft Anson Mills Polenta With Wild Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce

A new way to cook your grits.

Polenta or Grits With Beans and Chard

The beans can be cooked through Step 2 up to 3 days ahead and can be frozen.

Crispy Polenta Medallions

Crispy Polenta Medallions : These crispy rounds can be topped with a variety of cheese or sauces.

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”.

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Trevor Timm: The government loves the policy ‘technology for me but not for thee’

Three seemingly unrelated events explain a lot about the federal government’s complicated and hypocritical reaction to the proliferation of drones and other technology – technology they love to use to track millions of citizens but to which they don’t want citizens to have access.

First, a drunk intelligence agency employee crashed a two-foot toy drone into the White House lawn at 3am earlier this week, while the Federal Aviation Administration banned drones from flying over the Super Bowl on Sunday in Arizona. Then, police started loudly complaining about a traffic app called Waze that also alerts travelers about the location of police cars operating speed traps.

It may be hard to remember now, but the number one privacy issue in America before Edward Snowden came along was invasive police drones, which sparked broad left-right coalitions in state governments across the country. The NSA’s repeated invasions of Americans’ privacy replaced drones on the front pages, but that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from trying to acquire the technology or the federal government from trying to warn of the vast dangers of civilians doing the same thing.

Eugene Robinson: The Boehner-Bibi Backfire

The political ramifications are clear: House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a colossal mistake by conspiring behind President Obama’s back, and the move has ricocheted on both of them.

The big, scary issue underlying the contretemps-how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program-is a more complicated story. I believe strongly that Obama’s approach, which requires the patience to give negotiations a chance, is the right one. To the extent that a case can be made for a more bellicose approach, Boehner and Netanyahu have undermined it.

First, the politics. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good idea to arrange for Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress without telling Obama or anyone in his administration about the invitation?

Jim Hightower: A Whining Wall Street Banker Pleads for Pity

J.P. Morgan was recently socked in the wallet by financial regulators who levied yet another multibillion-dollar fine against the Wall Street baron for massive illegalities.

Well, not a fine against John Pierpont Morgan, the man. This 19th-century robber baron was born to a great banking fortune and, by hook and crook, leveraged it to become the “King of American Finance.” During the Gilded Age, Morgan cornered the U.S. financial markets, gained monopoly ownership of railroads, amassed a vast supply of the nation’s gold and used his investment power to create U.S. Steel and take control of that market. [..]

Moving the clock forward, we come to JPMorgan Chase, today’s financial powerhouse bearing J.P.’s name. The bank also inherited his pattern of committing multiple illegalities-and walking away scot-free.

Oh, sure, the bank was hit with big fines, but not a single one of the top bankers who committed gross wrongdoings were charged or even fired-much less sent to jail.

Jared Bernstein: The 529 Microcosm: A Revealing Political Train Wreck with Regard to an Inefficient Tax Break

This little train wreck over the White House’s proposal and then retraction of a plan to cut back on a wasteful yet beloved tax benefit is highly instructive. It’s a clear example of how much hot air there is in these fiscal debates, where policy makers and pundits scold everyone within earshot of the need for “fiscal responsibility,” then punt when they’ve got a chance to actually… you know… do something responsible.

The benefit in question is the 529 college savings plan, a tax break that allows people to save as much as they want without paying tax on either accruals or withdrawals (the accounts must be used to pay for college). It turns out that 70 percent of the benefits of 529s go to the top five percent of households — those with incomes above $200,000. The problem with that, as higher education scholar Sandy Baum recently noted, is that “[529s] primarily provide a subsidy to people who would save in other forms anyway.”

So the WH, to their credit, proposed to tax withdrawals from the plans (accruals would remain untaxed) while significantly boosting better targeted measures to help lower-income households afford college (the 529 change was to be grandfathered in, i.e., applied solely to new plans).

Joe Conason: End Poverty? Reduce Inequality? What Republicans Must Do First

The latest fad among would-be Republican presidential contenders is to proclaim their deep commitment to fighting poverty and inequality-which sounds as plausible as a promise by McDonald’s to abolish greasy food.

Decades of abuse of the nation’s poor and working families, which reached a crescendo in Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” campaign in 2012, hasn’t left much space for Republicans to follow the public morality of Pope Francis. Yet for the moment at least, they seem to think that they must.

They also seem to believe that reminiscing about bread-bag overshoes, like Senator Joni Ernst, or jeering the wealth of the Clintons, like RNC chair Reince Priebus, will somehow transform them into Franciscan populists. But such delusional ploys only make them look ridiculous.

So in the gracious spirit of the pontiff, who told us that even atheists can be saved, let’s help our Republican brothers and sisters.

The Breakfast Club (In The Navy)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgNot that Marines aren’t part of the Navy but one Band Leader is known primarily for his marches and one is… well, not.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was an active duty officer in the Russian Navy with a lot of time on his hands during his 2 year tours of duty.  He felt his early works too derivative of Beethoven and abandonded many of them, but hated Navy life more than music and took a position at the St. Petersburg Conservatory where he was a teacher of ‘Practical Composition’ and studied far more than he taught in fact abandoning composing for over 3 years.  He kept his job in the Navy as an on shore clerk and frequently taught his classes in uniform.

He was much influenced by his mentor Mily Balakirev and came to be associated with him in a group of five Russian composers known as The Mighty Handful.  The other 3 members were César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Alexander Borodin.

They were very representative of the Romantic Nationalist movement and drew much inspiration from folk songs and peasant dances.  Of the group Rimsky-Korsakov was the most mainstream during his lifetime because he wrote in traditional ‘Art Music’ formats like Fugues, Sonatas, Symphonies, and Opera.

They all had a strong mix of what is called ‘Orientalism’ in their music, though it’s really mostly Arabic and Mughal influence, not what we would call oriental today (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) and is based on their heavy use of a Pentatonic scale and other self concious musical tropes that were highly artificial and not really representative of any authentic or strictly Russian (or Oriental for that matter) tradition.  Rimsky-Korsakov added elements he had encountered at ports of call in Greece, England, the United States, and South America.

In 1873 he was named Inspector of Naval Bands and retired from active service.  At about this same time (and after his 3 year hiatus) he started re-writing his old pieces to bring their orchestration up to date and make them more mature and finished compositions.  He also published 2 collections of folk songs which he would use to provide musical themes for much of his later work.  By the time he left that position in 1884 he was well established as a composer and professor of music theory.

While considered innovative by some Rimsky-Korsakov was quite rigid and conservative.  He didn’t like Tchaikovsky at all and though like many (but not the rest of the Five) he thought Wagner exciting and fresh where he was merely long winded and bombastic, Rimsky-Korsakov never really warmed to the works of Strauss and Debussy.

He’s best known for things like “The Flight of the Bumblebee” from The Tale of Tsar Saltan and Scheherazade but today I present you Mozart and Salieri, a late work full of his most controversial mannerisms that perpetuates the myth that Salieri poisoned Mozart out of jealousy at his talent.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History January 31

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 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 334 days remaining until the end of the year (335 in leap years).

On this day in 1865, The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.

President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.


Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation


The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson(Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson.

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865”.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment’s adoption, selective enforcement of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases. See also Black Codes.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.