03/07/2015 archive

Random Japan

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Taco Bell to tackle Japanese market-but should we cheer or groan? Our foreign writers reflect


With perennial favorites such as Mos Burger, CoCo Ichibanya, Hotto Motto, and more, Japan has no shortage of tasty casual dining establishments to satisfy any craving. Yet many a foreign resident has surely at one time found himself longing for something more-the kind of guilty satisfaction that can only result from a visit to our favorite not-quite-Mexican joint, the peerless Taco Bell.

According to recent reports, the American fast food chain will soon be reentering the Japanese market, following up on its previous, disastrous, attempt almost three decades ago. Is this the beginning of a Mexican food renaissance in Japan, or simply the beginning of the end? We asked our foreign writers currently residing in Japan for their opinions, which proved to be mixed, to say the least.

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

Cutting Out the Meat With Mushrooms

Cutting Out the Meat With Mushrooms photo recipehealthwell-tmagArticle_zps6c542e9a.jpg

A couple of years ago I gave you a recipe for a roasted mushroom base, a sort of vegetable Hamburger Helper that I had learned to make from Scott Samuels, a Culinary Institute of America chef. Chef Samuels combined it with ground beef to make delicious burgers. It has caught on among food service professionals who want to improve the nutritional profile of their offerings. Now they refer to it as, simply, “The Mix,” and they are keeping mushroom growers very busy.

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Roasted Mushroom Base

A delicious way to halve the amount of animal protein in a dish.

Tuna Mushroom Burgers

Mushrooms assure a moist texture and a delicious burger.

Italian Meat Sauce With Half the Meat

This sauce has only a small amount of meat, but still has a rich flavor and a meaty texture.

Beet, Mushroom and Beef Burgers

A beet adds moisture, texture and color to these almost-veggie burgers.

Moussaka With Roasted Mushrooms

A complex, slightly sweet Eastern Mediterranean dish.

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: Petraeus won’t serve a day in jail for his leaks. Edward Snowden shouldn’t either

The sweetheart deal the Justice Department gave to former CIA director David Petraeus for leaking top secret information compared to the stiff jail sentences other low-level leakers have received under the Obama administration has led to renewed calls for leniency for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. And no one makes the case better than famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Ellsberg, the first person ever charged under the Espionage Act or any other statute for leaking the Pentagon Papers to Congress and seventeen newspapers, told me on Thursday: “The factual charges against [Edward Snowden] are not more serious, as violations of the classification regulations and non-disclosure agreements, than those Petraeus has admitted to, which are actually quite spectacular.” [..]

“If disclosing the identities of covert agents to an unauthorized person and storing them in several unauthorized locations deserves a charge with a maximum sentence of one year,” Ellsberg said, “then Edward Snowden should face not more than that same one count.”

Greg Palast: From White Sheets to Spreadsheets

I hate to spoil a happy ending.

The movie “Selma,” like this week’s commemorations of Martin Luther King Jr.’s march from Selma, Ala., 50 years ago, celebrates America’s giant leap from apartheid.

Half a century ago Alabama state troopers and a mob of racist thugs beat African-Americans and others as they marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, demanding no more than the right to vote. By the time King led 25,000 demonstrators singing “We Shall Overcome” into Montgomery, the state capital, on March 24, the president of the United States had introduced the Voting Rights Act. Free at last-to vote. Roll credits.

Yet, just a few months ago, Martin Luther King asked me, “How long until African-American citizens of Alabama-and Mississippi and Georgia-get the unimpeded right to vote?”

Obviously I was not speaking with King Jr.-a bullet stole him from us in 1968. The question was posed by his son, Martin Luther King III. I spent an afternoon at his home in Atlanta, where we pored over the latest evidence that Americans of color were blocked at the doors to the polls in the 2014 midterm elections – by the hundreds of thousands.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Gangsters of Ferguson

Darren Wilson was innocent. If only the city’s cops offered their own citizens the same due process he received.

Yesterday the Justice Department released the results of a long and thorough investigation into the killing of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson. The investigation concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove a violation of federal law by Officer Wilson. The investigation concluded much more. The investigation concluded that physical evidence and witness statements corroborated Wilson’s claim that Michael Brown reached into the car and struck the officer. It concluded that claims that Wilson reached out and grabbed Brown first “were inconsistent with physical and forensic evidence.” [..]

Unlike the local investigators, the Justice Department did not merely toss all evidence before a grand jury and say, “you figure it out.” The federal investigators did the work themselves and came to the conclusion that Officer Wilson had not committed “prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242.”

Our system, ideally, neither catches every single offender, nor lightly imposes the prosecution, jailing, and fining of its citizens. A high burden of proof should attend any attempt to strip away one’s liberties. The Justice Department investigation reflects a department attempting to live up to those ideals and giving Officer Wilson the due process that he, and anyone else falling under our legal system, deserves.

One cannot say the same for Officer Wilson’s employers.

David Cay Johnston: Another Obama regulator refuses to regulate

FERC chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur should lose her job for bias, incompetence or both

Hardly anyone has heard of Cheryl LaFleur, but she is one of America’s most powerful government officials, entrusted with vast authority to oversee the electricity, oil and natural gas industries. She chairs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a tiny government agency with only 1,500 employees. Its budget is covered not by taxpayers but by the industries it regulates.  

Her sworn duties include making sure charges for electricity are always just and reasonable. That means suppliers should be reasonably compensated and customers should pay reasonable prices. But she has consistently ignored this responsibility. When presented with serial indicators of unjust prices, she puts on a blindfold and sits on her hands.

In a Feb. 18 letter to six senators and 13 representatives, LaFleur demonstrated beyond any doubt her fealty to electricity companies and disregard for consumers. The 19 legislators expressed alarm over the quadrupling of prices paid just to have power plants available in New England to supply electricity during peak times. The price was $1 billion and change five years ago. Last month’s auction hit $4 billion and would have been much higher but for price caps.

LaFleur, a Harvard educated lawyer, politely thanked the lawmakers for writing her about their concerns. She then told them that nothing could be done.

Mike Daisey: We can’t rely on corporations like Fox to care about ethics in journalism

We can get into trouble telling stories.

Few things evoke more high-handed, Puritanical moralizing than someone else doing something untoward that each of us has done ourselves – like telling a story that isn’t strictly or literally true. We condemn others’ embellishments, in part, because we’re the ones who didn’t get caught. [..]

But stories are not journalism, though (again, with the question of the nature of language) we call them that. There are, however, few forms of storytelling that have the specific aspirations that journalism does: it is the attempt to do the impossible and tell the literal truth – which is what makes it noble. Once we admit that every story is fiction, it makes the attempt to tell the truth so much more important; and when we as listeners take the risk to believe, it’s incredibly damaging when that trust is violated.

Bill O’Reilly’ and Brian Williams’ cases could not be more similar: both are prominent broadcast journalists in television at the top of their game; and both told war stories that contain inaccuracies so blatant that common sense says they lied. But one of these men has been heavily punished and the other will not only survive, but be rewarded because one asked for our trust, and then other never bothered to earn it nor care if he did.

The Breakfast Club (My Hat It Has Three Corners)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThree corners has my hat

And had it not three corners

It would not be my hat!

I dunno, maybe it makes more sense in Italian.

This is the famous (I mean, as far as any Renaissance Italian Folk Tune appropriated for ‘Art Music’ can be) Carnival of Venice.

Or infamous in my case as it was the audition piece for All-State Band and since my sight reading skilz are for crap I really didn’t have even a clue what it was supposed to sound like and between the triple and quadruple tounging and the rampant octave jumps (not to mention the rapid fire fingering) I could only make up in energy and enthusiasm what I lacked in technique.

You know, like your first sexual experience.

I have dissipated a youth of extreme privilege on these ephemeral photons.  I went to Summer Camp every year, sometimes twice at different places.  This year my family in Michigan pulled some strings and got me in a Youth Music program that featured lessons with the great Leonard Falcone who just happened to have arranged (that’s a technical musical term for someone who re-does an original piece for different instruments or ensembles, or changes the key or tempo to make it sound different even though it’s really the same) my audition piece.

What could go wrong?

Well, I am a horrible musician, even for a brass player, and I have a tin ear and no discipline or muscle memory whatsoever.  It took Falcone mere seconds to recognize how hopeless I was.

But he was a trooper and there were only so many Euphonium players so he was stuck with me for 2 weeks.

Towards the end I dragged out my audition piece and said-

“Do you think you can help me with this?”

“Let me hear it.”

So I embarrassed myself and he said-

“It should sound like this.”

My Hat It Has Three Corners

It wasn’t a total waste.  I did learn a lot about music and improved tremendously (though I still couldn’t get a gig in a Circus Band which is somewhat unfair to them because they are dead serious professional musicians who practice every day and then do 3 shows) and I also hooked up with this clarinetist who came to my Grandmother’s place where I had to wait for my parents to pick me up after camp was over and took me to a Drive In Movie where I got to second base with her.

Anyway, I’m not here to talk about my early relationships (as amusing as they are in retrospect) what I really want to talk about is Frank Music.

Let’s set the wayback machine to August 16, 2014 where I wrote in Renaissance Man about the importance of a common musical notation that could be printed and distributed to the development of Western ‘Art’ Music.

(A)mong the signal advances musically during this time period is the development of recognizably ‘modern’ musical notation.

(T)he systematized notation of music and printing of same made the spread of musical ideas philosophy, science, and theology (the latter of which was pivotal in the political struggles of the period) much easier than previously possible.

(I)nfluence on European music was widespread, from … England to the remotest eastern principalities of the Holy Roman Empire.

The secret of … success?  The printing press and musical notation.

If you are of a certain age you’ll remember what we called Ditto machines but which were far more likely Spirit Duplicators or Mimeographs.  Man, nothing like sniffing the solvent off a fresh Ditto to give you that nice, in class, buzz.

Sheet Music for Band was reproduced the same way and it was a source of continual irritation for me that I always got the flimsiest, crappiest copies, especially since they always doubled the Tenor Sax parts (hey, at least they were in B-Flat which meant I didn’t have to do any in my head transpositions).  The problem was I didn’t understand how Sheet Music was packaged and sold.

As a Band Director you’d find a piece you liked and thought your Band could handle and then searched through catalogs and stores until you came up with an Orchestration Package.  They typically cost over $100 and included (in addition to the Conductor’s Score) original individual parts for each instrument called for by the Composer.  Since School Bands are always much larger you had to copy those so that you had one for every student to practice with.

So that’s why your teacher was always so mad at you when you lost your folder.  Those things are hard to get.

Now as it turns out Carnival of Venice was not available locally and the closest place to get a copy was Frank Music in New York City.  It was a big deal for me as it’s the first time I can remember visiting the City alone (for which I’d probably get seized by DCS now).

Frank Music is a dingy hole in the wall in Mid-town filled floor to 15 or 20 foot ceiling with shelves stacked about as close as you can the sheet music laying flat inside and layers of faded labels pasted on the dividers.  If you have any sense at all you’ll wait for a clerk to find what you want but I was adventurous and wandered around the mustiness.

In the end I found it and a copy of Arban’s (neither of which helped, see above) and escaped about $50 lighter than I went in.  With the train and lunch it was a $100 day but I could have gone golfing and spoiled a good walk.

New York City’s last classical sheet music shop closes its doors after eight decades

by Lauren Gambino, The Guardian

Friday 6 March 2015 12.33 EST

After nearly eight decades in business, Frank Music, the last classical sheet music store in New York City, will close on Friday at 5pm.

With a pencil tucked behind her ear, Heidi Rogers, the 63-year-old shopkeeper, puttered around the store, retrieving scores from the shelves piled high with music from the classics – Beethoven, Chopin, Stravinsky – to the arcane. She paused occasionally to look around at the spartan office, tucked away on the 10th floor of a midtown Manhattan building, as if keen not to forget the position of a single score.

Rogers indulged every customer – new and old – at the checkout line. With the faithful patrons who had shopped there for years, she reminisced. With the first-timers, she joked, taking digs at the “freebie” culture that brought about the store’s demise, and guessing their musical forte.

Frank Music has struggled in the internet age, as more musicians turn to Amazon or other online sellers that sell scores for less than their brick-and-mortar counterparts charge. It has also had to compete with free downloads, found on websites such as IMSLP, a virtual music library that allows users to download scores at no cost.

“To be replaced by something so inferior – it’s such an insult,” Rogers said. “But if you appeal to people’s lowest instincts, like we’re going to give you this score for nothing, it’s basically saying it has no value.”

Until the very end, Frank Music resisted the creeping digitization of the internet age. The store’s vast inventory, methodically organized by composer, is registered only in Rogers’s brain. She almost never takes credit cards; she prints handwritten receipts; and she records her sales with a pencil on a piece of loose-leaf paper.

“The way other stores bought was very different than the way I bought,” Rogers said. “They would buy 20 copies of one thing that they knew they would sell 20 copies of. I would buy one copy of 20 things they didn’t want to be bothered with.”

The store’s stock boasts, in Rogers’s estimation, hundreds of thousands of scores. The massive, and unique, inventory is what Rogers believes set the store apart.

Annie Shapero, a vocal student and fragrance reviewer, said she heard about the store’s closure on the radio and had to come in and smell the sheets of music before it was too late.

“It’s an olfactory archive,” Shapero said, holding a book to her nose and inhaling deeply. “It’s a smell that’s disappearing from this city.”

“I think it’s something that you just take for granted living here,” Shapero said. “You just think, it’s New York – it’ll always be filled with stores like that. But it’s not! It’s gone. This is it.”

I’ll miss that place, the world has changed and not for the better.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History March 7

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.

March 7 is the 66th day of the year (67th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 299 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1965, a group of 600 civil rights marchers are forcefully broken up in Selma, Alabama. This day would be remembered in the Civil Rights Movement as “Bloody Sunday”

The Selma to Montgomery marches were three marches in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. They grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to Black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.

The first march took place on March 7, 1965 – “Bloody Sunday” – when 600 civil rights marchers were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march took place on March 9. Only the third march, which began on March 21 and lasted five days, made it to Montgomery, 51 miles away.

The marchers averaged 10 miles a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, they arrived in Montgomery on March 24, and at the Alabama Capitol building on March 25.

The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, a U.S. National Historic Trail.

Selma essentially became the focus the right to vote marches because it was the seat of Dallas County, AL that although it has a black population of 57% with 15,000 blacks elegible to vote, there were only 130 registered. Efforts to register voters were blocked by state and local officials, the White Citizens’ Council, and the Ku Klux Klan, using a literacy test, economic pressure, and violence.

On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, which declared segregation illegal, yet Jim Crow remained in effect. When attempts to integrate Selma’s dining and entertainment venues were resumed, blacks who tried to attend the movie theater and eat at a hamburger stand were beaten and arrested.

On July 6, John Lewis led 50 blacks to the courthouse on registration day, but Sheriff Clark arrested them rather than allow them to apply to vote. On July 9, Judge James Hare issued an injunction forbidding any gathering of three or more people under the sponsorship of civil rights organizations or leaders. This injunction made it illegal to even talk to more than two people at a time about civil rights or voter registration in Selma, suppressing public civil rights activity there for the next six months.

Planning the First March

With civil rights activity blocked by Judge Hare’s injunction, the DCVL requested the assistance of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Three of SCLC’s main organizers – Director of Direct Action and Nonviolent Education James Bevel, Diane Nash, and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Orange James Orang, who had been working on Bevel’s Alabama Voting Rights Project since late 1963, a project which King and the executive board of SCLC had not joined. When SCLC officially accepted Amelia Boynton’s invitation to bring their organization to Selma, Bevel, Nash, Orange and others in SCLC began working in Selma in December 1964. They also worked in the surrounding counties along with the SNCC staff who had been active there since early 1963.

The Selma Voting Rights Movement officially started on January 2, 1965, when King addressed a mass meeting in Brown Chapel in defiance of the anti-meeting injunction.

Over the following weeks, SCLC and SNCC activists expanded voter registration drives and protests in Selma and the adjacent Black Belt counties. In addition to Selma, marches and other protests in support of voting rights were held in Perry, Wilcox, Marengo, Greene, and Hale counties.

On February 18, 1965, an Alabama State Trooper, corporal James Bonard Fowler, shot Jimmie Lee Jackson as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather in a café to which they had fled while being attacked by troopers during a nighttime civil rights demonstration in Marion, the county seat of Perry County. Jackson died eight days later, of an infection resulting from the gunshot wound, at Selma’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

In response, James Bevel called for a march from Selma to Montgomery.

Goals of the March

Bevel’s initial plan was to march to Montgomery to ask Governor George Wallace if he had anything to do with ordering the lights out and the state troopers to shoot during the march in which Jackson was killed. Bevel called the march in order to focus the anger and pain of the people of Selma, some of whom wanted to address Jackson’s death with violence, towards a nonviolent goal. The marchers also hoped to bring attention to the violations of their rights by marching to Montgomery. Dr. King agreed with Bevel’s plan, and asked for a march from Selma to Montgomery to ask Governor Wallace to protect black registrants.

Wallace denounced the march as a threat to public safety and declared he would take all measures necessary to prevent this from happening.

The First March: “Bloody Sunday”

On March 7, 1965, 525 to 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Highway 80. The march was led by John Lewis of SNCC and the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, followed by Bob Mants of SNCC and Albert Turner of SCLC. The protest went smoothly until the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and found a wall of state troopers waiting for them on the other side. Their commanding officer told the demonstrators to disband at once and go home. Williams tried to speak to the officer, but the man curtly informed him there was nothing to discuss. Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback.

Brutal televised images of the attack, which presented people with horrifying images of marchers left bloodied and severely injured, roused support for the U.S. civil rights movement. Amelia Boynton was beaten and gassed nearly to death; her photo appeared on the front page of newspapers and news magazines around the world Seventeen marchers were hospitalized, leading to the naming of the day “Bloody Sunday”.

Friday Night Movie

A guilty pleasure, season finale.

PD BTW.  Chaplin’s favorite.