Daily Archive: 02/28/2015

Feb 28 2015

Random Japan

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Convenience store in Japan welcomes new range of donuts, Evangelion-style

 HougiHayashi ‘Fang’ Hougi

Fans of the popular anime franchise Evangelion would probably get a pleasant surprise if they walked into this particular convenience store in Japan. Instead of putting up pictures of the actual products to advertise their new line of donuts, the creative store employees of this branch decided to take a cue from the popular anime and dress their window a little differently.

Twitter user misoka09 uploaded a few pictures of the Evangelion-style advertisements and soon garnered more than 10,000 retweets as amused netizens gushed over this clever trick.

Feb 28 2015

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

Making Old Vegetables New Again

Fennel Rice or Bulgur photo recipehealthfennel-articleLarge_zpsb2afe62a.jpg

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Last weekend it was time to reach into my vegetable crisper, pull out the lingering produce and use things up. I try not to buy more than what I need for recipe testing, but sometimes my imagination gets ahead of me and I soon find myself with a pile-up of vegetables that never made it into a recipe. [..]

These are the more-than-a-week-old vegetables that ended up on my counter: a red cabbage, a couple of red bell peppers, a bunch of beets with greens, about a pound of carrots, a bag of brussels sprouts and a fennel bulb. A disparate range but I knew I would find homes for them. I opened some of my favorite cookbooks to get some inspiration, and right away I came upon a simple, comforting rice and leeks recipe in Diane Kochilas’s latest cookbook, “Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity From the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die.”

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Red Cabbage and Black Rice, Greek Style

A comforting, light Greek Lenten meal.

Greek Bulgur With Brussels Sprouts

A lemony mix of fluffy bulgur and tender brussels sprouts.

Fennel Rice or Bulgur

A simple Greek Lenten dish that can be a main dish or a side.

Beet Greens Bulgur With Carrots and Tomatoes

This hearty vegan grain and vegetable dish brings together bulgur and greens, a classic Greek combo.

Red Pepper Rice, Bulgur or Freekeh With Saffron and Chile

A mildly spicy, and pretty, Lenten vegetable rice.

Feb 28 2015

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: Undermining Children’s Insurance

Senior Republicans in Congress are seeking major changes to the Children’s Health Insurance Program when the program’s money runs out in September.

Their proposal, labeled a “discussion draft” for legislation yet to be written, could deprive more than a million children of insurance or force their families to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for their coverage. It also would shift costs to states, which would be left holding the bag to pay for the children’s insurance or for the care of the children as uninsured patients. [..]

It threatens to undermine the progress made in reducing the number of uninsured children, gains that came from enrolling more children in Medicaid and in CHIP, which covers children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

Peter Z. Scheer: Leonard Nimoy Inspired Millions and Will Continue to Do So

Leonard Nimoy eventually came to terms with the fact that most people will know him as a character, not a man. Fortunately, that character was virtuous, wise and generous, qualities shared by the man. To paraphrase his first autobiography, Leonard Nimoy, who has 134 acting credits, was not Spock, but where it counts he may as well have been.

He was a giving man. He and his wife, Susan Bay, have made many donations, large and small, public and private. Out of respect for their modesty, I’ll leave it there, but know that they were the real deal, and Susan, a force herself, will carry on.

As an artist, Nimoy pursued a passion for photography and poetry, as well as a dedication to Jewish culture. He was, as they say, a good Jew. I remember hearing him on public radio reading an old Jewish fable. It’s not the sort of thing that comes up at conventions. Speaking of which, one cannot write of Nimoy’s passing without remarking on the fact that he changed and inspired millions of lives. People make fun, but the embrace by all those fans of Star Trek’s values is no small thing. They’re good values, and Spock endures as the most compelling character of the franchise. He was the alien among the crew, a half-breed who struggled with his repressed human nature. In that way, he was relatable, sympathetic and a stand-in for so many of us who feel as though we don’t quite belong.

Glenn Greenwald: Why Does the FBI Have to Manufacture its Own Plots if Terrorism and ISIS Are Such Grave Threats?

The FBI and major media outlets yesterday trumpeted the agency’s latest counterterrorism triumph: the arrest of three Brooklyn men, ages 19 to 30, on charges of conspiring to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (photo of joint FBI/NYPD press conference, above). As my colleague Murtaza Hussain ably documents, “it appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant.” One of the frightening terrorist villains told the FBI informant that, beyond having no money, he had encountered a significant problem in following through on the FBI’s plot: his mom had taken away his passport. Noting the bizarre and unhinged ranting of one of the suspects, Hussain noted on Twitter that this case “sounds like another victory for the FBI over the mentally ill.”

In this regard, this latest arrest appears to be quite similar to the overwhelming majority of terrorism arrests the FBI has proudly touted over the last decade. [..]

We’re constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the grave threat of home-grown terrorists, “lone wolf” extremists and ISIS. So intensified are these official warnings that The New York Times earlier this month cited anonymous U.S. intelligence officials to warn of the growing ISIS threat and announce “the prospect of a new global war on terror.”

But how serious of a threat can all of this be, at least domestically, if the FBI continually has to resort to manufacturing its own plots by trolling the Internet in search of young drifters and/or the mentally ill whom they target, recruit and then manipulate into joining? Does that not, by itself, demonstrate how over-hyped and insubstantial this “threat” actually is? Shouldn’t there be actual plots, ones that are created and fueled without the help of the FBI, that the agency should devote its massive resources to stopping?

Jeb Lund: The ‘War on Women’ is the latest war that Republicans at CPAC want to win

All political movements, to some extent, sound nonsensical to outsiders because groupthink elides the needs for certain connective thoughts to be voiced aloud. CPAC, a celebration of orthodoxy among a bullet-point-equipped faithful who all try to sound more stridently like everyone else than anyone else, magnifies this tendency to maddening degrees. Two separate subjects are mentioned with the causal relationship omitted. Facts appear without context; good things are named as though good outcomes inevitably eventuate. When cause-and-effect statements appear, they aren’t much better.

By this process, you can arrive at a conclusion like this: To win the War on Women, you better put a ring on it.

At CPAC, conservatives dedicated an entire panel to “The Future of Marriage.” One could be forgiven for assuming it tackled the issue via the sub-topic “Gays, and the Ickiness Thereof,” because that was the default assumption among those attending CPAC as part of an ongoing More Jaded Than Thou contest. Instead, the panel bypassed halting marriage equality and went straight for a return to celebrating a time when women had few stable life opportunities outside of marriage.

John Nichols: This Is Why Scott Walker Is Not Presidential Material

I have known Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker since he was a young state legislator. We used to talk a good deal about our differing views on how to reform things: campaign finance rules, ethics regulations, social-welfare programs.

We seldom reached agreement. But I gave him credit for respecting the search for common ground. And for understanding that a disagreement on a particular matter is never an excuse for ending the search-or for disregarding others who are engaged in it.

But that was long ago. Scott Walker has changed a great deal-and not, I fear, for the better.

He is deep into a political career that has seen plenty of ups and downs; and, now, he is grasping for a top rung on the ladder: the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2016.

Michelle Chen: Why the Disturbingly Sane Voices at CPAC Should Scare You

I’ve been covering the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on and off for more than a decade. I’ve seen it in full jingoistic flower early in George W. Bush’s administration, when attendees could buy bumper stickers than said “No Muslims = No Terrorists” and hurl beanbags at toy trolls holding signs that said “The Homosexual Agenda” or “The Liberal Media.” I’ve seen it during moments of despair, when conservatives realized that Republican leaders wouldn’t enact the entirety of their kamikaze agenda. But I have rarely seen it as slick and sunny as this year, and that scares me.

CPAC, for those lucky enough to be unacquainted, is the most important right-wing conference of the year, regularly drawing leading Republican politicians and aspirants. This year, all the likely Republican presidential candidates are here, including Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum. Perhaps because of that, there seems to have been a real effort to tone down the outrageousness. Poor Ann Coulter, once a reliable CPAC bomb-thrower, is nowhere on the program. There’s a conspicuous absence of Hillary Clinton nutcrackers and other Instagram-ready right-wing kitsch. Even Sarah Palin, who spoke Thursday night, was shockingly lucid and reasonable, devoting her remarks to the plight of veterans suffering overlong deployments, PTSD and backlogs at the VA.

Feb 28 2015

The Breakfast Club (Thrupenny)

The 3 rules of Opera.

  1. It must be long, boring, and in an incomprehesible foreign language (even if that language is English).
  2. The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.
  3. Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.

Ballet is the same, but with more men in tights and without the superfluous singing.

Consider La Traviata (The Fallen Woman) celebrated in Pretty Woman.

In Act I, Violetta, a notorious (c’mon fallen woman?  Everyone knows women don’t like sex, it’s just something they tolerate because they like babies) courtesan, spurns Alfredo so she can live her life the way she wants (Sempre libera – Always Free)

In Act II Violetta is living in a country house with Alfredo, whom she’s decided she loves and has completely abandoned her former life.  What?  Did she get kidnapped by aliens?  I swear, I just went to the lobby to visit the bathroom.  Is this the same theater?  The same Opera?  Am I living some nightmarish Groundhog Day where I don’t even get to listen to I’ve Got You Babe at 6 am every morning for eternity?

Cher, I’m expecting your retweet.  Not as funny as Kathy Griffin?  I beg to differ.

Oh, and Alfredo’s Dad doesn’t like her because she’s a sex worker and he’s a hung up old jerk.

Soon enough.

So things are going to perdition in a pedicab.  As it develops Violetta is liquidating her assets in Paris to support her suburban lifestyle.  Alfredo sets off to correct this (us guys, always looking for solutions instead of simply listening and sympathizing) while his father Giorgio asks her to dump Alfredo because her tawdry past is tainting his daughter (Pura siccome un angelo – Pure as an angel, God gave a daughter) and ruining her marriage prospects.

Ah, Twew Wuve-

“He didn’t come.”  It takes talent that, and a firm knowlege of Baseball statistics.  

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgOf course by now I’m looking for a stout stick to bash Giorgio with before committing seppuku with my plastic yogurt spork (What? I visited the snack bar, OK?) and this is just the first Scene.

In the second Scene at a gambling party where Alfredo is trying to raise the money to satisfy Violleta’s debts (because how else are you going to get cash besides Powerball?) after a rousing chorus of Paradise by the Dashboard Light (in Italian Noi siamo zingarelle venute da lontano.  Di Madride noi siam mattadori) Violetta coincidently appears with the Baron Douphol (Beauregard Burnside).  And I’m a handsom Matador from Biscay.  Anyway Alfredo insults Violetta by offering her the money he has won (yes, we’re back to Pretty Woman, did we ever actually leave?  I want the fairy tale.).

Giorgio enters and denounces his son’s behavior (Di sprezzo degno sè stesso rende chi pur nell’ira la donna offende. – “A man, who even in anger, offends a woman renders himself deserving of contempt.”).  Violetta turns to Alfredo: Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core non puoi comprendere tutto l’amore… – “Alfredo, Alfredo, you can’t understand all the love in this heart…” (cough).

Ok, so the spork was only sufficient to gouge out my eyes and if I’m going to chop off my ears and eviscerate myself I’ll need something more substantial, like a plastic knife.  Fortunately there is a break before Act 3.

Did I mention Violetta is dying of Tuberculosis?  Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.  Tuberculosis is fortunately one of those ultimately fatal but lingering diseases that allow you to belt out a few Arias before you (cough) croak (Gran Dio!…morir sì giovane – “Great God!…to die so young”).  

After singing a duet with Alfredo, Violetta suddenly revives, exclaiming that the pain and discomfort have left her. A moment later, she dies in Alfredo’s arms.

Now that’s entertainment.  Pardon me while I dab my tears before descending from the box.

TMC swears she’s going to teach me to be less cynical (as if she were less cynical than I, I’m a warm cuddly Teddy Bear by comparison- ask anyone) and that I will learn to love Opera.  Of course, just like I love children- par-boiled and chicken fried with a pan gravy.  Tastes just like rattle snake.

Oh, so now you want to see La Traviata.  Here it is at La Scala in Milan, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it.

It has the virtue of French subtitles (Rule Number One).  Now in fairness I didn’t want to be a barber anyway, except in Seville

Did I mention natural tenor?  Of course I played the Barber.

And now I’m really going, I’ve done what I can do.  So why don’t you get going?

Well. I haven’t actually inflicted the damage I intended.  “The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.”

Mackie Messer

Polly, meanwhile, buys a bank, and runs it with Macheath’s henchmen, making him a bank director, and she then arranges surety for Macheath to leave prison. This causes a change of heart by her parents – her father tries to stop the protest march but fails.

Jenny visits the prison, and aids Macheath’s escape: he makes his way to the bank, where he discovers his new status. Brown, whose police career is ruined by the demonstration, and Peachum, also come to the bank and agree to link up.

Now that sounds more like the real world where a pimp and beggar-master, a corrupt politician, and an assassin hook up to loot the people who love them and think they’re heros.

Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1000.

I have the same thing in French where it’s worth a penny more and I can arbitrage the spread.

And that my friends is Opera.  I don’t really hope I’ve ruined it for you so much as made your existence a spiraling hell where all emotion is sucked into a black hole of despair before you are torn apart by tidal forces you can barely comprehend and debates about black and blue or gold and white.

You can thank me later.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Feb 28 2015

On This Day In History February 28

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.

February 28 is the 59th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 306 days remaining until the end of the year (307 in leap years)

On this day in 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H.C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes.

History of DNA research

DNA was first isolated by the Swiss physician Friedrich Miescher who, in 1869, discovered a microscopic substance in the pus of discarded surgical bandages. As it resided in the nuclei of cells, he called it “nuclein”. In 1919, Phoebus Levene identified the base, sugar and phosphate nucleotide unit. Levene suggested that DNA consisted of a string of nucleotide units linked together through the phosphate groups. However, Levene thought the chain was short and the bases repeated in a fixed order. In 1937 William Astbury produced the first X-ray diffraction patterns that showed that DNA had a regular structure.

In 1928, Frederick Griffith discovered that traits of the “smooth” form of the Pneumococcus could be transferred to the “rough” form of the same bacteria by mixing killed “smooth” bacteria with the live “rough” form. This system provided the first clear suggestion that DNA carries genetic information, the Avery-MacLeod-McCarty experiment, when Oswald Avery, along with coworkers Colin MacLeod and Maclyn McCarty, identified DNA as the transforming principle in 1943. DNA’s role in heredity was confirmed in 1952, when Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase in the Hershey-Chase experiment showed that DNA is the genetic material of the T2 phage.

In 1953, James D. Watson and Francis Crick suggested what is now accepted as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure in the journal Nature. Their double-helix, molecular model of DNA was then based on a single X-ray diffraction image (labeled as “Photo 51”) taken by Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling in May 1952, as well as the information that the DNA bases are paired – also obtained through private communications from Erwin Chargaff in the previous years. Chargaff’s rules played a very important role in establishing double-helix configurations for B-DNA as well as A-DNA.

Experimental evidence supporting the Watson and Crick model were published in a series of five articles in the same issue of Nature. Of these, Franklin and Gosling’s paper was the first publication of their own X-ray diffraction data and original analysis method that partially supported the Watson and Crick model; this issue also contained an article on DNA structure by Maurice Wilkins and two of his colleagues, whose analysis and in vivo B-DNA X-ray patterns also supported the presence in vivo of the double-helical DNA configurations as proposed by Crick and Watson for their double-helix molecular model of DNA in the previous two pages of Nature. In 1962, after Franklin’s death, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. However, Nobel rules of the time allowed only living recipients, but a vigorous debate continues on who should receive credit for the discovery.