03/14/2015 archive

Random Japan

Why Korean and Japanese people can’t speak English, in their own words【Video】

KK Miller

Native English teachers who have worked in Korea or Japan have developed very strong opinions about the systematic approach each country takes when teaching English. Here at RocketNews24, we’ve previously talked about how all the focus is on test scores and how native English speakers are used as glorified tape-recorders. We’ve also mentioned that there are Japanese English teachers with limited ability to speak (let alone teach) the subject, textbooks that bore the students into a coma and students who are too afraid to try because they don’t want to make any mistakes.

We could go on and on about the issues plaguing the system, but in the end, it is just advice coming from outsiders. Perhaps the ones we need to hear more from are the students themselves. What better source of feedback is there than the people who have experienced the process first-hand and now live with the fruits of their studies, or lack thereof?

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

Fear of Frying

Herb Fritters photo recipehealthwell-tmagArticle_zps34487335.jpg

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Nutritionists will tell you that “butter is back” is not quite the right message to be sending to the public about the significance of fat in a healthy diet. We can, however, let go of our fear of frying, especially if we use monounsaturated fats like olive oil and polyunsaturated fats like grapeseed oil. Study after study has indicated that refined carbohydrates play a much more insidious role in our national health problems than fats do, and that a moderate-fat (but low-saturated fat) diet like the Mediterranean diet (about 40 percent calories from fat) is a healthy way to eat, and even more important, an enjoyable, very easy way of eating to adhere to.

When it comes to frying and deep-frying food it’s not so much the frying that is the consideration, but what you are frying. If coating vegetables in a batter that crisps up when you fry them in hot oil makes you and your kids want to eat lots of vegetables, then why not do it from time to time? Try crispy kale coated with a crunchy spiced chickpea flour batter and you will find yourself eating kale like popcorn.

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Crispy Spiced Kale

Irresistible, crispy kale that is a delicious alternative to kale chips.

Fried Green Beans, Scallions and Brussels Sprouts With Buttermilk-Cornmeal Coating

A fluffy and crispy coating can give tired vegetables new life.

Spiced Green Beans and Baby Broccoli Tempura

Deep-Fried Cauliflower With Crispy Dukkah Coating

A Middle Eastern specialty with a little extra kick.

Herb Fritters

Light and delicate fritters that can be made with a variety of greens and herbs

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

Manil Suri: Don’t Expect Math to Make Sense

On Pi Day, Celebrate Math’s Enigma

Each year, March 14 is Pi Day, in honor of the mathematical constant. Saturday is the once-in-a-century event when the year, ’15, brings the full date in line with the first five digits of pi’s decimal expansion – 3.1415. Typical celebrations revolve around eating pies and composing “pi-kus” (haikus with three syllables in the first line, one in the second and four in the third). But perhaps a better way to commemorate the day is by trying to grasp what pi truly is, and why it remains so significant.

Pi is irrational, meaning it cannot be expressed as the ratio of two whole numbers. There is no way to write it down exactly: Its decimals continue endlessly without ever settling into a repeating pattern. No less an authority than Pythagoras repudiated the existence of such numbers, declaring them incompatible with an intelligently designed universe.

And yet pi, being the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, is manifested all around us. For instance, the meandering length of a gently sloping river between source and mouth approaches, on average, pi times its straight-line distance. Pi reminds us that the universe is what it is, that it doesn’t subscribe to our ideas of mathematical convenience.

Eugene Robinson: The Long Shadow of Racism

See, I keep telling you that old-fashioned racism is alive and well in this country. After the fraternity bus sing-along at the University of Oklahoma, do you hear me now?

Frankly, the happy-go-lucky bigotry of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity brothers-captured on video and shown to the world-shocked even me. And I was raised in the South, back in the days when Jim Crow was under assault but still very much alive.

It wasn’t just the repeated vow of eternal segregation, with its implication of white supremacy: “There will never be a n— SAE.” To put it mildly, it was jarring to hear such young people-millennials, usually raised on an intellectual diet of diversity and inclusiveness-casually tossing around the vilest racial epithet as if they had been using it all their lives.

But the real stunner was the line describing what to do with any black man who might have the gall to seek to join their fraternity: “You can hang ’em from a tree.”

Madeleine AlbrightL This is Tunisia’s moment

Tunisian Spring, while promising, will be incomplete without economic reforms

On Dec. 17, 2010, a Tunisian street vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi staged a desperate protest against corrupt local officials by setting himself on fire. The act helped trigger a revolution in his country and a wave of uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East. The consequences of his actions were complex, but his demands were simple: He wanted to earn a good living, start a business and be treated with dignity.

Bouazizi’s story reminds us that the roots of extraordinary political upheaval in what came to be known as the Arab Spring were fundamentally about economic freedom. Creating opportunity for young people besieged by high unemployment is a challenge that must be addressed head-on by governments in the region. The United States will continue to serve as a partner in that effort, through both our government and our private sector.

Steven Zhou: Canada doesn’t need a US-style surveillance state

The latest anti-terrorism bill promoted by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives is a threat to both liberty and safety

Thanks to leaks by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, we now know that the modern U.S. security state makes Big Brother from George Orwell’s “1984” look quaint. Thanks to the Conservative administration of Stephen Harper, Canada is heading quickly in the same direction. Bill C-51, currently under debate in Parliament, represents the most sweeping threat to Canadian civil liberties yet.

The Tories have long emphasized the danger of domestic terrorism, but there is little evidence that Canada faces an imminent threat. And only six Muslims were involved in planning terrorism on U.S. soil in 2014, the fewest since 2008. The exact figures for Canada are unknown, but they are almost certainly even lower.

The government’s actual motivation appears to be political opportunism. Last fall, polls showed Harper and the Conservatives badly trailing Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. Then in October, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a troubled Quebec Muslim man, killed a soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Later that month, Martin Rouleau killed a soldier in Quebec. Harper wasted no time in announcing that his administration would quickly pass laws to bolster public safety. Since then, his position in the polls has improved steadily.

Michael T. Klare: The Real Story Behind the Oil Price Collapse

Many reasons have been provided for the dramatic plunge in the price of oil to about $60 per barrel (nearly half of what it was a year ago): slowing demand due to global economic stagnation; overproduction at shale fields in the United States; the decision of the Saudis and other Middle Eastern OPEC producers to maintain output at current levels (presumably to punish higher-cost producers in the U.S. and elsewhere); and the increased value of the dollar relative to other currencies. There is, however, one reason that’s not being discussed, and yet it could be the most important of all: the complete collapse of Big Oil’s production-maximizing business model.

Until last fall, when the price decline gathered momentum, the oil giants were operating at full throttle, pumping out more petroleum every day.  They did so, of course, in part to profit from the high prices.  For most of the previous six years, Brent crude, the international benchmark for crude oil, had been selling at $100 or higher.  But Big Oil was also operating according to a business model that assumed an ever-increasing demand for its products, however costly they might be to produce and refine.  This meant that no fossil fuel reserves, no potential source of supply-no matter how remote or hard to reach, how far offshore or deeply buried, how encased in rock-was deemed untouchable in the mad scramble to increase output and profits.

The Breakfast Club (3.14.15 Super Pi Day)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Pi mathematical constant photo 200px-Pi-unrolled-720_zpsc86fcb4a.gif Today is Pi (π) Day, how could we live without it. So let’s celebrate π on it’s day 3.14. This year it’s even more special because today’s date is 3.14.15 matching the first five digits of the mathematical constant. The next Super Pie Day won’t happen for another 100 years.

As you remember from grammar school math, π is the mathematical constant consisting of the main numbers 3, 1 and 4. According to the Wikipedia of π, “it is the the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159.”

It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes written as pi. π is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers (such as 22/7 or other fractions that are commonly used to approximate π); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.

OK, enough of that. Let’s get on to the party part.

 photo Pi_Pie_zpse0c8fb1d.jpg It’s earliest known celebration was in California where in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium physicist Larry Shaw along with the staff and the public marched around one of its circular spaces eating fruit pies. In 2009. The US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution declaring 3.14 π (Pi) Day. And in 2010, a French computer scientist claimed to have calculated pi to almost 2.7 trillion digits.

Coincidentally, it is also the birthday of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. So at Princeton University in New Jersey there are numerous celebrations around both events that also include an Albert Einstein look alike contest.

Besides the partying at Princeton, here’s what is going on elsewhere to celebrate this mathematical necessity that drives mathematicians nuts.

Celebrating Pi Day, a sweet time for scientists and pie lovers

By Steve Rubenstein. SFGate

It took the ancient Greeks and the infinite power of the circle to make it happen, but the California Academy of Sciences is opening four minutes early on Saturday.

It’s going to open at 9:26 a.m. instead of 9:30 a.m. And the reason for that is because pi, the ancient ratio that specifies how many times longer the circumference of a circle is than its diameter, is 3.1415926 … , with a particular emphasis on the 926. [..]

At the California Academy of Sciences, after throwing open the doors four minutes early, astronomers will celebrate by joining visitors in the dropping of Popsicle sticks. It’s a mathematical game in which the sticks are used to model the mathematical formula for pi. The best way to find out how that works, academy insiders say, is to show up and drop a few sticks yourself.

While astronomers are dropping Popsicle sticks, other astronomers at the Golden Gate Park academy will hold a “Pi in the Sky” lecture in which they will explain how they use pi to calculate the volume of planets outside the solar system. Pi works not only on Earth, but billions of light-years from Earth, too.

About 3.14 miles to the east, the Exploratorium is trying to one up the academy, pi-wise. Admission will be free, all Pi Day long.

‘Super Pi Day’ – 3.14.15 – will feature weddings, food specials as math nerds celebrate once-a-century date

By Sasha Goldstein, New York Daily News

Dana Emanuel and Byron Clarke both love pie – she the food, he the numerical constant (spelled pi). And Saturday’s date, 3.14.15, dubbed “Super Pi Day,” happens to be the first five digits of the infinite number, which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and remains the same no matter the size of the circle.

The date won’t come around again for 100 years, so the couple decided it was a “no brainer,” set the date and printed off circular wedding invitations to dash off to dozens of family and friends. The nuptials will bring them full circle after they got engaged on June 28 last year – 6.28, or two pi. [..]

– Runners on New York City’s Roosevelt Island will take off on a 3.14-mile course at exactly 9:26:53 a.m. Saturday on what is billed as a “Girls Prep Ultimate Pi Day Pi K.”

– A variety of events will honor the Pi Day of the Century at Manhattan’s Museum of Mathematics on East 26th St.

– The math whizzes over at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will let prospective students know if they’ve been admitted beginning at 9:26 a.m. on Saturday. The prestigious school announced the date with a two-minute video showing drones delivering the decisions.

– Greenwich Village pizzeria Ribalta will offer diners $3.14 off their bill if they wish their server a Happy Pi Day.

– The American Pie Council has an activity packet filled (pdf) with pi- and pie-related fun, games and food ideas.

– Pie cups at all Hill Country Chicken locations will be on sale for $3.14 on Saturday.

– Pie Corps in Greenpoint will offer a 10-inch pie for $31.41, while a 4-inch mini pie will fetch $3.14, according to DNAinfo.com, which highlighted five city spots featuring Pi Day pie specials.

In 2010’s “Moment of Geek”, Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” featured a math student teacher, Teresa Miller, from the University of New Mexico with a hula hoop and a Rubic’s Cube that was quite amazing.

I was never that energetic as a math student. Teresa should be a great math and phys ed teacher.

So, whatever you do today, eat something round and remember π.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.

Albert Einstein

On This Day In History March 14

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 14 is the 73rd day of the year (74th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 292 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1885, The Mikado a light opera by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, had its first public performance in London.

The Mikado, or, The Town of Titipu is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaborations. It opened in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera. The Mikado remains the most frequently performed Savoy Opera, and it is especially popular with amateur and school productions. The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.

Setting the opera in Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. Gilbert used foreign or fictional locales in several operas, including The Mikado, Princess Ida, The Gondoliers, Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke, to soften the impact of his pointed satire of British institutions.

The Mikado is a comedy that deals with themes of death and cruelty. This works only because Gilbert treats these themes as trivial, even lighthearted issues. For instance, in Pish-Tush’s song “Our great Mikado, virtuous man”, he sings: “The youth who winked a roving eye/ Or breathed a non-connubial sigh/ Was thereupon condemned to die / He usually objected.” The term for this rhetorical technique is meiosis, a drastic understatement of the situation. Other examples of this are when self-decapitation is described as “an extremely difficult, not to say dangerous, thing to attempt”, and also as merely “awkward”. When a discussion occurs of Nanki-Poo’s life being “cut short in a month”, the tone remains comic and only mock-melancholy. Burial alive is described as “a stuffy death”. Finally, execution by boiling oil or by melted lead is described by the Mikado as a “humorous but lingering” punishment.

Death is treated as a businesslike event in Gilbert’s Topsy-Turvy world. Pooh-Bah calls Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner, an “industrious mechanic”. Ko-Ko also treats his bloody office as a profession, saying, “I can’t consent to embark on a professional operation unless I see my way to a successful result.” Of course, joking about death does not originate with The Mikado. The plot conceit that Nanki-Poo may marry Yum-Yum if he agrees to die at the end of the month was used in A Wife for a Month, a 17th century play by John Fletcher. Ko-Ko’s final speech affirms that death has been, throughout the opera, a fiction, a matter of words that can be dispelled with a phrase or two: being dead and being “as good as dead” are equated. In a review of the original production of The Mikado, after praising the show generally, the critic noted that the show’s humour nevertheless depends on

“unsparing exposure of human weaknesses and follies-things grave and even horrible invested with a ridiculous aspect-all the motives prompting our actions traced back to inexhaustible sources of selfishness and cowardice…. Decapitation, disembowelment, immersion in boiling oil or molten lead are the eventualities upon which (the characters’) attention (and that of the audience) is kept fixed with gruesome persistence…. (Gilbert) has unquestionably succeeded in imbuing society with his own quaint, scornful, inverted philosophy; and has thereby established a solid claim to rank amongst the foremost of those latter-day Englishmen who have exercised a distinct psychical influence upon their contemporaries.”