Daily Archive: 05/09/2015

May 09 2015

ek’s Helpful Household Hints

Because, of course, we like to keep it light and frothy on the weekends.

How To Keep NSA Computers From Turning Your Phone Conversations Into Searchable Text

By Dan Froomkin, The Intercept


As soon as my article about how NSA computers can now turn phone conversations into searchable text came out on Tuesday, people started asking me: What should I do if I don’t want them doing that to mine?

The solution, as it is to so many other outrageously invasive U.S. government tactics exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, is, of course, Congressional legislation.

I kid, I kid.

No, the real solution is end-to-end encryption, preferably of the unbreakable kind.

And as luck would have it, you can have exactly that on your mobile phone, for the price of zero dollars and zero cents.

The Intercept’s Micah Lee wrote about this in March, in an article titled: “You Should Really Consider Installing Signal, an Encrypted Messaging App for iPhone.”

(Signal is for iPhone and iPads, and encrypts both voice and texts; RedPhone is the Android version of the voice product; TextSecure is the Android version of the text product.)

As Lee explains, the open source software group known as Open Whisper Systems, which makes all three, is gaining a reputation for combining trustworthy encryption with ease of use and mobile convenience.

Nobody – not your mobile provider, your ISP or the phone manufacturer – can promise you that your phone conversations won’t be intercepted in transit. That leaves end-to-end encryption – using a trustworthy app whose makers themselves literally cannot break the encryption – your best play.

May 09 2015

A Special Keith Olbermann Sports Rant

ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, formerly of MSNBC, went off on a rant about the Super Bowl scandal generated  by the winning team’s under inflated footballs that may have given them a game advantage.

May 09 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

Paul Krugman: Triumph of the Unthinking

“Words,” wrote John Maynard Keynes, “ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.” I’ve always loved that quote, and have tried to apply it to my own writing. But I have to admit that in the long slump that followed the 2008 financial crisis – a slump that we had both the tools and the knowledge to end quickly, but didn’t – the unthinking were quite successful in fending off unwelcome thoughts.

And nowhere was the triumph of inanity more complete than in Keynes’s homeland, which is going to the polls as I write this. Britain’s election should be a referendum on a failed economic doctrine, but it isn’t, because nobody with influence is challenging transparently false claims and bad ideas.

Before I bash the Brits, however, let me admit that we’ve done pretty badly ourselves.

D. D. Guttenplan: Fear Wins Big in Britain

Fear is the right’s home-field advantage. Asked why, after five years of grinding austerity, real-wage stagnation, and an economy that was outperformed in Europe not just by Stakhanovite Germans but by the joie-de-vivring French, so many English voters lined up for more of the same, one politician quoted Hillaire Belloc:

And always keep ahold of nurse

For fear of finding something worse.

That was a strategy Labour never seemed able to counter, whether out of failure of political imagination or fear of appearing fiscally irresponsible. As in Scotland in September, Labour let the Tories define the contest as a battle between hope and fear. Fear won, both times.

In the next few days the media here will be filled with arguments between those who insist that Labour needs to lurch left and those who urge a swerve right. It will be ugly. And there will be blood. But this argument, which Ed Miliband worked so hard to avoid, needs to happen. Not because either side is correct-although my own sympathies are mostly with the left-but because some time in the Blair era Labour stopped standing for anything, and defeat on this catastrophic scale may just prompt a renewal from the ground up, rather than (as happened after 2010) from the top down. Nicola Sturgeon’s triumph in Scotland shows what can happen with idealism and energy and a genuine openness to change. But before Labour can again serve as a vehicle for change, the party itself will have to change, to decide not just where it stands but who it claims to speak for. And to do that, it will first have to do a lot of listening.

John Nichols: A Resounding Message From Scotland: Break the “Cozy Consensus” Around Austerity

If the Scottish National Party was a small anti-austerity party that had never before made a real dent in British politics and suddenly shot into contention-grabbing dozens of seats away from the traditional parties and elbowing its way into position as the third largest party in new Parliament-the world would take notice.

Well, the Scottish National Party is a small-make that formerly small – anti-austerity party. And it just made a real dent, a huge dent, in politics with an epic electoral breakthrough. “The tectonic plates of Scottish politics shifted yesterday,” said SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on Friday morning. The veteran British political commentator Andrew Marr declared as the election results came in that, “Scotland has moved decisively to the left.”

That move offers an important lesson for American progressives about going big in politics-especially anti-austerity politics. It is not just possible to run against the failed conservative policies of seeking to balance budgets with cuts to public services, attacks on public employees and their unions, and crude policies of privatization that redistribute wealth upward. It is necessary.

Leslie Savan: Who’s Really Laughing About the Invasion of Texas?

All week long we’ve been having a good laugh over Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordering the Texas state guard to monitor Jade Helm 15, a military exercise planned by the Pentagon to simulate “covert military operations” in Texas and seven other western states. The conspiracy theory on the right is that the operation is designed to “take over” Texas, which is funny because the state is actually already part of the US. The speculation that abandoned Walmart stores are being prepped to hold gun-lovers and patriots makes it only more hilarious because, well, don’t Walmarts already do that? [..]

But as Jon Stewart points out, these military exercises have been going on in Texas for years, and the Lone Star state has always welcomed them. Hmmm, what’s different now, he wonders, under a photo of our black president.

This is how ginning up the base works. If there’s a near-time analog, it would be the 24/7 coverage before the 2014 midterm elections about Ebola and the crazies’ theory that the feds were encouraging an epidemic in America by not quarantining anyone who set foot in West Africa. That was a bad joke, too, since, after all, nobody who had not been in West Africa or treated someone with Ebola had ever caught the disease. And the media coverage stopped on a dime when the election was over.

But, boy, did that coverage help drive racially biased voters to the polls.

Michele Chen: Devaluation of black lives starts in classrooms

Black students are disproportionately subjected to suspension and arrest

In New York City, where youth of color live under the shadow of stop-and-frisk policing and hundreds of children are jailed each year, school authorities recently promised to limit the use of metal handcuffs on students younger than 12 years old – unless absolutely necessary. Yes, that’s considered progress.

Since the Black Lives Matter movement exploded last year, the public spotlight has focused on violence against black youth in the streets. But the devaluation of black life often begins in the classroom – not at the hands of riot police, but through more subtle forms of force.

Black students are disproportionately subjected to disciplinary measures, ranging from suspension and expulsion to physical confinement or restraint – and sometimes arrest. Like zero-tolerance law enforcement, social control is the goal, though paradoxically, those disproportionately targeted for restraint typically come from the most disempowered communities.

May 09 2015

The Breakfast Club (So You Want To Play Carnegie Hall)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgI actually have a cousin (of some sort, it’s not a close relationship and it’s a branch of the family we don’t have much communication with) who played in Carnegie Hall and as the dedicated East Coasters (practically everyone else lives in the mid or farther West) we received invitations to be part of the rooting section.

Well, this was interesting.  I don’t recall much about my first visit (there must have been, we didn’t skimp on the cultural stuff), so when we went to the city (there is only one) and met with the immediate relatives at their hotel room that was not just tiny but very, very expensive, it was a novelty.

Soon enough it was time to unpack the sardines and head to the big show where we spent a very informative interlude at the museum which was already quite high enough for me.  Oh, have I mentioned I suffer from severe acrophobia?  It’s not that I can’t, it’s that it is very disturbing and difficult.  Anyway, as the designated ‘country cousins’ we got the extra tickets which happened to be in the uttermost nosebleed section next to the rail.  And the chairs were canted forward so you could get a good view of the stage.

So I can fairly describe the overall sensation for me as being dangled off the precipice of a bottomless pit, except of course for that well lit stop at the end.

After courageously assessing the situation I informed my family I would be watching from the aisle and I went to the nosebleed lobby and told the usher of my decision to which she repiled, in a very sympathetic way mind you, “Yeah, we get a lot of that.  Do you need to sit down?  A paper bag?”  So I, at various points, got as close as I dared and stared at the ants of whom I would hardly have recognized my cousin with binoculars because, as I said, our families weren’t that close and I barely knew him.

After that we went out with my Aunt (again not a blood relative) for my first experience of Thai where I was not really able to tell what dishes contained Bell Peppers (I’m EpiPen allergic).  Thank goodness peanuts are ok.  Ah, I could go on and on, this Aunt told my Dad not to mention his brother’s death days before at her Marathon party because it would ruin the vibe.  Her daughter (not at all the same cousin) has been on The New York Times Best Seller list twice and I’m terribly jealous…

I have issues, but everyone is damaged in some way and what you strive for is high functioning.  So you want to play in Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice.

Which brings us to Études.

Études are an artifact of the late Romantic period which are deliberately designed to be difficult to perform to showcase the virtuosity of the performers so musicians use them to practice.  Since many of the great composers were also outstanding performers, they would write Études for warm up pieces before their concerts.  They were frequently written for piano which is the most complete instrument and the easiest to orchestrate and transpose for other instruments.

Among the more obscure composers whos works are still regularly used are Carl Czerny and Muzio Clementi while some of the better known ones are Frédéric Chopin, Franz Liszt and Claude Debussy,

The Debussy ones are particularly interesting and often performed together as a part of a concert program.  Liner notes

Book One

  • I. Pour les cinq doigts (after Czerny)
  • II. Pour les tierces (2:52)
  • III. Pour les quartes (6:28)
  • IV. Pour les sixtes (12:06)
  • V. Pour les octaves (16:23)
  • VI. Pour les huit doigts (19:35)

Book Two

  • VII. Pour les degrés chromatiques (21:08)
  • VIII. Pour les agréments (23:15)
  • IX. Pour les notes répétées (28:13)
  • X. Pour les sonorites opposées (31:35)
  • XI. Pour les arpèges composés 2 (36:57)
  • XII. Pour les accords (41:48)

Early in 1915, disheartened by the menace of World War I and gravely ill with cancer, Claude Debussy (1862-1918) nevertheless managed to compose. The fruits of his labors, 12 Etudes (study pieces or exercises), would be his last important works for solo piano, and would represent a distillation of the composer’s musical legacy. It was appropriate for Debussy — the most original composer for the piano since Franz Liszt — to join the ranks of etude composers. Equally fitting was his dedication of his two volumes to Frederick Chopin, noting that the serious nature of the exercises was offset by a charm reminiscent of the earlier master.

The etudes are divided into two books, each different in conception. Book I is devoted to exploring the technical problems and musical possibilities inherent in different intervals (thirds, sixths, etc.), while Book II engages in the exploration of musical syntax and style. In all, the etudes are witty, challenging, and inspired. Though academic in nature — and perhaps less easily digested than other of Debussy’s works — they fall closely on the heels of his popular Préludes and Images, and reflect the same aesthetic concerns: complex harmonies, fragmented melodic lines, and colorful textures.

The first etude of Book I, “Pour les ‘cinq doigts’-d’apres Monsieur Czerny” (For Five Fingers-after Mr. Czerny), is inspired by the five-finger exercises of Carl Czerny. Debussy pantomimes the pedantic works by placing figurations in grotesque juxtaposition and introducing bizarre modulations. “Pour les Tierces” (For Thirds) presents an extraordinary variety of patterns in parallel thirds, excepting those already encountered in “Tièrces alternées” from the second book of Préludes. “Pour les Quartes” (For Fourths) exercises the pianists ability in parallel fourths. Almost needless to say, quartal harmony abounds, making this etude more tonally adventurous than many of the others. “Pour les Sixtes” (For Sixths) is a slow and meditative work with two fast interludes, and one forte interruption. “Pour les Octaves” (For Octaves) combines chromaticism, whole-tone harmonies and complex syncopation. Probably the most brilliant etude of both books, it is equally difficult to play. “Pour les huit doigts” (For Eight Fingers) is meant to be performed (the composer’s suggestion) without the use of the thumbs, due to the division of the figuration into four-note scale patterns. It finds humor in its rigid insistence on four-note groupings and sudden ending.

Book II begins with “Pour les degrés chromatiques” (For Chromatic Intervals), an essay in the use of the chromatic scale, both compositionally and technically. “Pour les agréments” (For Ornaments) is one of the most fiendishly difficult works in the repertoire. The entire fabric of the music is created by juxtaposing musical embellishments, arpeggiations, and miniature cadenza-like passages. “Pour les notes répétées” (For Repeated Notes) requires a performer able to execute repeated tones with great rapidity while still maintaining the piece’s humorous, scherzando atmosphere. One wry melodic fragment balances the otherwise relentlessly staccato texture. “Pour les sonorités opposées” (For Opposing Sonorities) emphasizes the kind of multiple-layered textures found earlier in the second set of Images and many of the préludes. “Pour les arpéges composés” (For Composed, or Written-out, Arpeggios), easily the best-known of all the etudes, redefines the arpeggio to include a variety of non-harmonic tones (such as the added second or the added ninth). “Pour les accords” (For Chords), is probably the nearest thing to a Romantic virtuoso piece that Debussy ever produced. Mammoth in conception and brutally difficult, this etude juxtaposes relentless perpetual motion with an almost uncomfortably still middle section. A truncated reprise precedes a driving conclusion that puts even the most skilled performer to a grueling test, both technically and interpretively.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

May 09 2015

On This Day In History May 9

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.

Click on images to enlarge

May 9 is the 129th day of the year (130th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 236 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1860, James Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, is born in Scotland.

Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan. The child of a family of small-town weavers, he was educated in Scotland. He moved to London, where he developed a career as a novelist and playwright. There he met the Llewelyn Davies boys who inspired him in writing about a baby boy who has magical adventures in Kensington Gardens (included in The ), then to write Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, a “fairy play” about this ageless boy and an ordinary girl named Wendy who have adventures in the fantasy setting of Neverland. This play quickly overshadowed his previous work and although he continued to write successfully, it became his best-known work, credited with popularising the name Wendy, which was very uncommon previously. Barrie unofficially adopted the Davies boys following the deaths of their parents. Before his death, he gave the rights to the Peter Pan works to Great Ormond Street Hospital, which continues to benefit from them.

Peter Pan

The classic Peter Pan starring Mary Martin. This is the 1960 version for NBC. Has been very limited in its showing. The DVD is long out of print and expensive to own.

May 09 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

Mother’s Day Brunch

 photo 06MARTHA-tmagArticle.jpg

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Martha Rose Shulman offers these delicious crepes you can make in advance, and let the little ones put them together for your well deserved Mother’s Day meal. If your better half is handy in the kitchen, suggest these other delicious recipes to celebrate the day.

Crepes With Raspberry-Cassis Sauce

These sophisticated crepes can be made ahead of time and reheated in a low-temperature oven.

Blueberry or Blackberry Compote with Yogurt or Ricotta

Blueberries don’t need much in the way of sweetener yet this simple compote will transform a plain bowl of yogurt into a very nice breakfast.

Sautéed Apple Rings

An apple dish that can work on the breakfast table, as a side dish or even dessert.

Pesto-Filled Deviled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs make a perfect vehicle for pesto, which stands in for half the egg yolks in these savory deviled eggs.