Daily Archive: 08/22/2015

Aug 22 2015

Random Japan

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Losing high school baseball team’s manners continue to impress, this time at a hotel

Krista Rogers

We’ve seen impeccable displays of manners from Japanese high school baseball teams on many occasions before, from the respectful bowing of Yamagata Chuo High School to the classy stadium-cleaning deed of Kyukoku just the other day. It seems like the annual Koshien high school baseball tournament in Hyogo Prefecture really does bring out the best in the promising young players, as another team from Akita Prefecture has proven after being eliminated from this year’s tournament with their grand display of thanks in a regional hotel.

Akita Shogyo Koko (or ‘Akisho’ for short) ultimately lost 3-6 to Sendai Ikuei High School during the quarterfinals of this year’s Koshien tournament. However, they have a lot to be proud of, especially considering that this was the first time in 80 years that they were able to advance into the final eight of the competition.

Aug 22 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:

Rand Paul said something funny the other day. No, really – although of course it wasn’t intentional. On his Twitter account he decried the irresponsibility of American fiscal policy, declaring, “The last time the United States was debt free was 1835.”

Wags quickly noted that the U.S. economy has, on the whole, done pretty well these past 180 years, suggesting that having the government owe the private sector money might not be all that bad a thing. The British government, by the way, has been in debt for more than three centuries, an era spanning the Industrial Revolution, victory over Napoleon, and more.

But is the point simply that public debt isn’t as bad as legend has it? Or can government debt actually be a good thing?

Believe it or not, many economists argue that the economy needs a sufficient amount of public debt out there to function well. And how much is sufficient? Maybe more than we currently have. That is, there’s a reasonable argument to be made that part of what ails the world economy right now is that governments aren’t deep enough in debt.

Robert Reich: Corporate Welfare in California

Corporate welfare is often camouflaged in taxes that seem neutral on their face but give windfalls to big entrenched corporations at the expense of average people and small businesses.

Take a look at commercial property taxes in California, for example.

In 1978 California voters passed Proposition 13 – which began to assess property for tax purposes at its price when it was bought, rather than its current market price.

This has protected homeowners and renters. But it’s also given a quiet windfall to entrenched corporate owners of commercial property.

Corporations don’t need this protection. They’re in the real economy. They’re supposed to compete on a level playing field with new companies whose property taxes are based on current market prices.

John Nichols:  Jon Stewart as a Debate Moderator? Yes, Please!

We need more primary and general election debates, featuring more candidates, more issues and bolder moderators.

The humorist Will Rogers ran a mock campaign for the presidency in 1928 that got so much attention, and was so favorably received, that some Democrats proposed him as a serious contender in 1932. Rogers politely pulled himself out of the running-with an observation that “Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.”

On a more personal and professional note, Rogers warned that “A comedian can only last till he either takes himself serious or his audience takes him serious.”

That is the only argument I can think of for not asking Jon Stewart to moderate at least one of the 2016 presidential debates. And this argument fails because both comedy and politics have changed sufficiently over the past 80-plus years to justify the risk to the reputation of the recently-retired “Daily Show” host.

George Zornilk: Congress Is Sick of the Secrecy Around the TPP

And Senator Sherrod Brown is blocking a key Obama nominee to show it.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is in its final stages, though nobody seems certain when talks over the massive trade deal will actually conclude. The document is undergoing critical late-stage revisions as member nations haggle over the automobile trade with Japan, dairy prices in New Zealand, and monopoly periods for non-generic pharmaceuticals.

When the deal is completed, members of Congress will be able to see the entire text without restriction before they vote on passage. But until then, legislators are operating under hyper-strict rules when they want to review the text, which is locked in a basement room of the US Capitol. Only certain congressional aides with security clearances can see the TPP draft, and only when the member of Congress is also present. Notes taken during these sessions can’t be taken out of the room. [..]

Senator Sherrod Brown recently gave the administration a deadline to ease some of these restrictions. He wants his policy advisors to be able to evaluate the evolving text without having him present. But that access was never given, and his self-imposed deadline passed last Friday.

Brown has consequently announced he will place a hold on Obama’s nominee to be Deputy US Trade Representative.

Stephen W. Thrasher: Republicans’ deep hatred for teachers can’t be denied and they’re not trying

It’s August, the heat is miserable, kids are going back to school and that means one thing for America’s conservatives: it’s the perfect time to take a cheap shot at the nation’s teachers.

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio – who is generally considered less extreme than Texas Senator Ted Cruz, less dynastic than former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and less crazy than professional troll Donald Trump – recently said: “If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us’.”  [..]

Republicans love to hate teachers and imply that all the ills of US society are the result of their laziness. If only schools could be turned over to market forces and not held back by greedy teacher unions, conservative logic goes, everything would be fine – even though charter schools perform no better than traditional schools. Trying to bust unions in general (and those of teachers in particular) turns conservatives on as much as trying to deny climate change, defend the NRA, defund Planned Parenthood or battle for a check from the Koch brothers.

Zoë Carpenter:  The Racist Roots of the GOP’s Favorite New Immigration Plan

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but Donald Trump and other candidates are keeping alive the idea that some Americans should not have equal rights at birth.

The year 1866 was an alarming one for xenophobes: Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, declaring “all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power…to be citizens of the United States.” Though explicitly intended to grant citizenship to African-Americans, who’d been denied it by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1857 Dred Scott case, wouldn’t the law also “have the effect of naturalizing the children of Chinese and Gypsies born in this country?” wondered Pennsylvania Senator Edgar Cowan. “Undoubtedly,” responded Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois. When President Andrew Johnson vetoed the act, he too raised the specter of the Chinese and “the people called Gypsies.”

Congress overrode the veto, and went on to enshrine the principle of birthright citizenship in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Needless to say, fears about the children of the gypsies proved unfounded. Yet the idea that people with certain types of parents should be denied citizenship-and the associated rights-persisted. Late in the nineteenth century the government tried to withhold citizenship from the children of Chinese immigrants, but was rebuffed by the Supreme Court. Native Americans weren’t considered citizens until 1924. These days the target is Latino immigrants and their children. And thanks to Donald Trump, the nativist argument against birthright citizenship has moved from a sideline item to a centerpiece in the Republican primary.

Aug 22 2015

On This Day In History August 22

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.

August 22 is the 234th day of the year (235th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 131 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American on the US Tennis Tour.

On this day in 1950, officials of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accept Althea Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, making her the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Growing up in Harlem, the young Gibson was a natural athlete. She started playing tennis at the age of 14 and the very next year won her first tournament, the New York State girls’ championship, sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was organized in 1916 by black players as an alternative to the exclusively white USLTA. After prominent doctors and tennis enthusiasts Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson took Gibson under their wing, she won her first of what would be 10 straight ATA championships in 1947.

In 1949, Gibson attempted to gain entry into the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills, the precursor of the U.S. Open. When the USLTA failed to invite her to any qualifying tournaments, Alice Marble–a four-time winner at Forest Hills–wrote a letter on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine. Marble criticized the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members, suggesting that if Gibson posed a challenge to current tour players, “it’s only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts.” Gibson was subsequently invited to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, where she earned a berth at Forest Hills.

snip

Though she once brushed off comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing black baseball player, Gibson has been credited with paving the way for African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and, more recently, Venus and Serena Williams. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at the age of 76.

Ms. Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association  tour, in 1963, retiring in 1978.

Aug 22 2015

The Breakfast Club (Sucky Summertime Blogging)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgI’ve spent a lot of time on the road this summer which has been good from the standpoint of refining my ability to get portable with all my equipment which right now consists of my laptop (not exactly a speed demon, but 16Gb RAM and a terabyte or so of space), my cell phone (Moto E with 32Gb flash and 2 Borg sets), and my Nikon Coolpix 9700 (many batteries and flash cards and a so-so tripod).

Plus toys like my drive ripper, usb hubs, wireless mouse and silicon keyboard.

This is a bigger pack than previously because I’ll be staying longer, up to a month- certainly more than 2 weeks, so there’s all kinds of other comforts like my good monitor, speakers, and cables that have to go.

I have a lot of work to do today.  Hopefully after I unpack I’ll be able to resume my normal level of obnoxiousness.

TMC will be traveling also, so if the sites are a little more relaxed than is customary at various points, it’s because both of us are busy with other things.  We’ll try to keep up.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Aug 22 2015

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness 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. 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.

This week’s digest is abbreviated since I am, once again, traveling this week.

Tomatoes Pack a Nutritional Punch

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Tomatoes  receive a lot of attention from nutritionists largely because of a phytonutrient called lycopene. Studies have long suggested that lycopene, which is contained in the red pigment, has antioxidant properties. Now growers are raising and marketing “high-lycopene” tomatoes. Indeed, a company based in Israel has developed a dried cherry tomato, which it is calling a “raisin tomato,” that contains almost 100 times the amount of lycopene in a regular cherry tomato.

I love this suggestion on preparing tomatoes for cooking from the author, Martha Rose Shulman

In many of this week’s recipes I’m using a technique that may be new to some of you. Rather than peeling, seeding and dicing the tomatoes, I grate them on the large holes of a box grater. This is a technique I learned in Greece; it’s used throughout the Mediterranean. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze out the seeds if instructed to do so, and rub the cut side against the grater. Don’t worry: the skin is tough and you won’t scrape your hands. When you feel the holes of the grater against the inside of the tomato skin, you’re done. It goes quickly, and it’s a nifty time-saver.

Pasta With Salsa Crudo and Green Beans

Tomato Frittata With Fresh Marjoram or Thyme

Blender Tomato Soup

Bruschetta With Tomato Topping

Cooked Grains Salad With Tomato Vinaigrette

Aug 22 2015

Neglected Tropical Diseases: Guinea-worm disease Up Date

Four years ago I wrote an article about Guinea-worm disease, one of the top ten neglected tropical diseases. Thirty years ago the former President Jimmy Carter’s foundation embarked on a program to eliminate the agonizing and debilitating parasitic disease that has plagued Africa for centuries. They are now close to eliminating it and it is Pres. Carter’s wish to see it gone before he is.

When former President Jimmy Carter announced Thursday that his cancer had spread to his brain, he also revealed he had some unfinished business he wants to see through.

“I would like to see Guinea worm completely eradicated before I die,” the philanthropist said. “I’d like for the last Guinea worm to die before I do.”

Carter went on to explain that there are currently only 11 cases of dracunculiasis, or guinea worm disease, in the world. That’s a precipitous drop from 3.5 million cases across 21 countries in 1986, when he first set out to conquer the disease through his nonprofit organization the Carter Center. [..]

When Guinea worm has been eradicated, it will be only the second time in human history that a disease has been totally wiped out. The first, smallpox, was eradicated in 1977, according to the World Health Organization. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that Guinea worm will meet the same fate – a final piece in Carter’s legacy.

Below is the article I wrote in 2011 about the Guinea-worm disease which is no longer neglected and may soon no longer exist. Thank you and bless you, Pres. Carter. May he live to see this disease gone and longer.