09/12/2015 archive

Random Japan

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Japanese expat turns frustration with ordering from Amazon UK into a comic

Jamie Koide

Moving to a different country can be fun and exciting, but it can also be tough. Most expats go through a period of culture shock where they realize that some of the stereotypes they were led to believe about a certain country may not be true, and that the way things work in their new home may not always be an improvement on the way things were done back in their old one.

We’ve presented some things Japan doesn’t get right from a Westerner’s point of view in the past, but this time we’d like to show you a comic drawn by a Japanese illustrator living overseas, detailing some of the not-so-pleasant points of living in the UK and how some in particular made her quit shopping at Amazon.

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

Tomatoes à la Provence


This is the first summer in a long time that I haven’t had a tomato garden. My garden needed a rest, and my plan was to work on my annual tomato piece for Recipes for Health during the two weeks I spent in Provence, where my love affair with Mediterranean cuisine began. It was an easy assignment. Summer cooking here revolves around tomatoes, squash and eggplant, and these ingredients pretty much dominated my market baskets.

When I started going to Provence more than 30 years ago, the tomatoes were superior to anything I could find in the States. Now that’s not the case, thanks to our wonderful farmers’ markets, which offer a wider variety of these nutrient-dense vegetables than any French market I visited this summer. An added benefit is that in American markets you are much more likely

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Pain Catalan With Extra Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

This dish is inspired by the Catalan signature dish, but mustard takes the place of the traditional raw garlic.

Provençal Tomato and Squash Gratin

Tomatoes do double duty here, forming a sauce and decorating the top of the dish.

Rainbow Trout Baked in Foil With Tomatoes, Garlic and Thyme

Cooked in packets, this savory fish dish can be assembled well ahead of time and baked at the last minute.

Tomato, Squash and Eggplant Tian

A tian takes a little time to assemble, but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful presentation of summer’s bounty.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Dijon mustard spread on the pastry dough before baking adds even more French flavor to this 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: One good thing about Donald Trump’s campaign: it’s ruining Jeb Bush’s

There are many, many reasons to abhor Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but there’s at least one reason to appreciate it, for now: his constant and merciless trolling of Jeb Bush that is currently tanking Bush’s shot at the presidency. In some sense, Trump is doing democracy a service by helping ensure we will not have to suffer the embarrassment of having a third Bush family member as president within two decades. [..]

Thankfully, Trump has exposed Bush, not only on substance but as someone who is just not a good politician. Jeb’s campaign knows it. His donors know it. And the voters certainly have been paying attention: Bush’s poll numbers have dropped so low, it’s hard to believe even the most conventional wisdom-spewing political pundits can still call him the “front runner” with a straight face. He’s dropped to fifth or sixth and to single digits in almost all the recent polls in the early primary states. He seems flustered on the trail, and no one can point to a path by which he recovers from this, despite remaining the DC elite’s odds-on favorite.

As embarrassing and terrifying as a Trump presidency would be, the virtual anointing of a Bush family monarchy could be far worse, and so at least for now, I hope Trump keeps swinging away.

Ali Gharib: Further sabotage of the Iran deal won’t bring success – only embarrassment

Over the past two months, since the Iran nuclear deal was inked by the US and world powers, opponents of the accord have delivered fiery speeches predicting dire consequences (another Holocaust, nuclear war), poured millions of dollars into fiery television advertisements (does your dog have a fallout shelter?) and vowed to stop at nothing to take the deal down. On Thursday, however, the deal overcame its most harrowing obstacle – Congress – and the opponents went down with a whimper, not a bang. [..]

Opponents of the deal want to say the Democrats played politics instead of evaluating the deal honestly. That charge is ironic, to say the least, since most experts agree the nuclear deal is sound and the best agreement diplomacy could achieve. But there were politics at play: rather than siding with Obama, Congressional Democrats lined up against the Republican/Netanyahu alliance. The adamance of Aipac ended up working against its stated interests.

Groups like Aipac will go on touting their bipartisan bona fides without considering that their adoption of Netanyahu’s own partisanship doomed them to a partisan result. Meanwhile, the ensuing fight, which will no doubt bring more of the legislative chaos we saw this week, won’t be a cakewalk, so to speak, but will put the lie to Aipac’s claims it has a bipartisan consensus behind it. Despite their best efforts, Obama won’t be the one embarrassed by the scrambling on the horizon.

David Sirota: Prosecution of White-Collar Crime Hits 20-Year Low

Just a few years after the financial crisis, a new report tells an important story: Federal prosecution of white-collar crime has hit a 20-year low.

The analysis by Syracuse University shows a more than 36 percent decline in such prosecutions since the middle of the Clinton administration, when the decline began. Landing amid calls from Democratic presidential candidates for more Wall Street prosecutions, the report notes that the projected number of prosecutions this year is 12 percent less than last year and 29 percent less than five years ago. [..]

Underscoring that assertion is a recent study by researchers at George Mason University tracking the increased use of special Justice Department agreements that allow corporations-and often their executives-to avoid being prosecuted. Before 2003, researchers found, the Justice Department offered almost no such deals. The researchers report that from 2007 to 2011, 44 percent of cases were resolved through the deals-known as deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements.

In 2012, President Obama pledged to “hold Wall Street accountable” for financial misdeeds related to the financial crisis. But as financial industry donations flooded into Obama’s re-election campaign, his Justice Department officials promoted policies that critics say embodied a “too big to jail” doctrine for financial crime.

Thor Benson: Can Apple, Google and Facebook Save Us From Big Brother?

Apple has been battling the Department of Justice and the intelligence community for years now, as was amply illustrated recently. The DOJ obtained a court order to force the company to provide it with the texts of two criminal suspects, but Apple responded by saying the messages are automatically encrypted and it cannot access them.

The DOJ is not happy about this. FBI Director James Comey has often stated that message encryption helps terrorists and kidnappers stay undetected, despite the fact that no evidence of this has been provided.

Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law, published a piece on Fusion on Monday that explains part of his longer thesis on surveillance. He believes tech companies are playing-and could continue to play-a major role in ensuring the privacy of Americans and protecting them from unnecessary surveillance efforts. “Keep on top of Apple, Google, Microsoft. Follow what they do and don’t let them let up,” he writes. “They may be our best chance out of this surveillance mess.”

Ari Berman: Restoring the Voting Rights Act Now Has Bipartisan Support

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska becomes the first Republican to support ambitious legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act.

 On June 2015-the second anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act (VRA)-congressional Democrats introduced ambitious new legislation to restore the VRA. Last night, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Republican to cosponsor the bill, known as the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015. The bill compels states with a well-documented history of recent voting discrimination to clear future voting changes with the federal government, requires federal approval for voter ID laws, and outlaws new efforts to suppress the growing minority vote. [..]

Murkowski’s decision to support restoring the VRA stands in stark contrast to the hateful and inflammatory rhetoric espoused by Republican presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and reactionary efforts by the likes of Kim Davis to limit civil rights.

Her cosponsorship of the bill was influenced by her home state of Alaska, which since 1965 had to approve its voting changes with the federal government because of discrimination against Alaska Natives. Said Murkowski: “The question of whether Alaska Natives have fair access to the voting booth has been litigated multiple times over the past several years. Impediments to voting in many of our rural communities because of distance and language need to be addressed, and my hope is that this legislation will resolve these issues. Every Alaskan deserves a meaningful chance to vote.”

Zoë Carpenter: Republicans Hold a Planned Parenthood ‘Show Trial’ Based on Videos They Haven’t Seen

“Joseph McCarthy would be proud of this committee today,” said one Democrat.

 On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held the first of several congressional hearings sparked by undercover videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profits from illegal sales of fetal tissue. Less than 40 minutes had elapsed by the time someone quoted Adolf Hitler. The hysteria lasted for nearly four hours, marked by claims that abortion providers start their day with a “shopping list” of body parts to procure, about a fetus’s face being cut open with scissors, about fetuses who “cried and screamed as they died” but weren’t heard “because it was amniotic fluid going over their vocal cords instead of air.”

The hearing was engineered to repulse and horrify; it was not designed to reveal any credible information about Planned Parenthood or the Center for Medical Progress, the antiabortion group that made and edited the undercover videos. Neither Planned Parenthood nor CMP were asked to make representatives available to testify. Instead, Republicans called on two “abortion survivors” who lived after their mothers attempted to terminate their pregnancies, and issued emotional appeals against abortion, broadly. They also invited James Bopp, the Indiana lawyer who argued on behalf of the nonprofit Citizens United in the Supreme Court case that extended 1st Amendment rights to corporations. Among other things, Bopp argued in his testimony that fetal tissue donation encourages women “to choose abortions as an acceptable form of birth control.” Priscilla Smith, who directs the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School, was the only witness who supported abortion rights.

The Breakfast Club (Sweet)

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A set of unrelated and usually short instrumental pieces, movements or sections played as a group, and usually in a specific order.

Key Igor Stravinsky work found after 100 years

by Stephen Walsh, The Guardian

Saturday 5 September 2015 19.05 EDT

Igor Stravinsky composed his Pogrebal’naya Pesnya (Funeral Song) in memory of his teacher, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, shortly after Rimsky’s death in June 1908. The 12-minute work was performed only once, in a Russian symphony concert conducted by Felix Blumenfeld in the Conservatoire in January 1909, but was always thought to have been destroyed in the 1917 revolutions or the civil war that followed.

Stravinsky recalled it as one of his best early works, but could not remember the actual music.

Stravinsky was 26 when The Funeral Song was performed and was by no means advanced as a composer. He was completely unknown outside Russia – and barely known even there. Yet in the next four years he would compose The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring, transforming himself into the most notorious modernist of them all.

There is a touching postscript to the story. Stravinsky was desperate to have his composition included in one or other of the memorial concerts being planned, and his surviving letters to Rimsky’s widow, to their son, Vladimir, and to the conductor Alexander Ziloti, positively cry out with the insecurity of a young composer who had never quite been accepted at the heart of musical St Petersburg and feared its judgment. They are the first hint of a split that would rapidly widen after Stravinsky’s dramatic successes in Paris. But by then of course, it hardly mattered.

The lost genius of Mozart’s sister

by Sylvia Milo, The Guardian

Tuesday 8 September 2015 09.54 EDT

“I am writing to you with an erection on my head and I am very much afraid of burning my hair”, wrote Nannerl Mozart to her brother Wolfgang Amadeus. What was being erected was a large hairdo on top of Nannerl’s head, as she prepared to pose for the Mozart family portrait.

Maria Anna (called Marianne and nicknamed Nannerl) was – like her younger brother – a child prodigy. The children toured most of Europe (including an 18-month stay in London in 1764-5) performing together as “wunderkinder”. There are contemporaneous reviews praising Nannerl, and she was even billed first. Until she turned 18. A little girl could perform and tour, but a woman doing so risked her reputation. And so she was left behind in Salzburg, and her father only took Wolfgang on their next journeys around the courts of Europe. Nannerl never toured again.

But the woman I found did not give up. She wrote music and sent at least one composition to Wolfgang and Papa – Wolfgang praised it as “beautiful” and encouraged her to write more. Her father didn’t, as far as we know, say anything about it.

Did she stop? None of her music has survived. Perhaps she never showed it to anybody again, perhaps she destroyed it, maybe we will find it one day, maybe we already did but it’s wrongly attributed to her brother’s hand. Composing or performing music was not encouraged for women of her time. Wolfgang repeatedly wrote that nobody played his keyboard music as well as she could, and Leopold described her as “one of the most skilful players in Europe”, with “perfect insight into harmony and modulations” and that she improvises “so successfully that you would be astounded”.

Like Virginia Woolf’s imagined Shakespeare’s sister, Nannerl was not given the opportunity to thrive. And what she did create was not valued or preserved – most female composers from the past have been forgotten, their music lost or gathering dust in libraries. We will never know what could have been, and this is our loss.

Lubec, Maine

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The story that goes with this picture is about Hopley Yeaton, the first officer commissioned (March 21, 1791) under the Constitution of the United States by George Washington into the Revenue Marines.  By most Coast Guarders (of whom Alex Haley is one and I am not but… New London) he is considered the first Commandant.

So in a friendly gesture the Coast Guard dug him up and planted him in New London where you can lie on his grave and think about death.

Now even though his grave was threatened by development, that of his family were not and they remain six feet (more or less, it’s pretty rocky) under the sod in North Lubec, once a bustling industrial center and now a wasteland of corrugated metal strapped around concrete slabs that machines and production lines used to be anchored on.

The libertarian impulse would be to point out the decline in commerce stems from an EPA ruling that it was no longer cool to dump buckets of blood, fish guts, and chicken beaks and feet straight into the water until the bay was red with it.

Scavanger species went into a predictable decline.  Yes, I like lobster and I know what they eat.  Do you like Pollack, Haddock, and Cod?

Seagulls I can do without even if they are agreeable to a close up.

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So Lubec North, South, East, and West is available for about a dime and it is a bustling hub of International commerce.

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I still don’t think grave robbing is an acceptable practice but when in Rome…  It certainly made things easier when I injured myself and had to exchange body parts after the beach amputation with shell edged tools.

What?  I had seaweed to grind my teeth on.  You guys are so effete.

Which brings us to Valhalla, New York and not by way of Wagner (Pfui!).

Family Balks at Talk by Russia to Move Rachmaninoff’s Remains

By JAMES BARRON, The New York Times

SEPT. 6, 2015

Resolutely nationalistic Russians want his body back. His great-great-granddaughter, Susan Sophia Rachmaninoff Volkonskaya Wanamaker, says “nyet.” Or she might, if she spoke Russian, but probably not. In a conversation about where his remains belong, she repeatedly used words like “dignity” and “respect.”

The dispute over his burial place started last month, when Russia’s culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, said that Rachmaninoff’s remains should be exhumed and sent to Russia. “The composer dreamed of being buried in Russia, that’s why returning his remains to his motherland would be a great deed,” he said, according to a report on the ministry’s website.

Ms. Wanamaker said Rachmaninoff had no such dream.

(W)hile he died in Beverly Hills, Calif., on March 28, 1943, “the family’s roots in New York were deeper than their roots in Beverly Hills,” Ms. Wanamaker said. Rachmaninoff, who left his homeland to escape the Russian Revolution in 1917, had rented a house on Riverside Drive when he arrived in Manhattan in the 1920s. He became an American citizen eight weeks before he died.

Mr. Medinsky accused the United States of laying claim to Rachmaninoff’s legacy. “If you look at American sources, you’ll see that Sergei Rachmaninoff is a great American composer of Russian descent,” he said. “Americans are presumptuously privatizing the name of Rachmaninoff.”

That idea was echoed by Valery Poliansky, the president of the Rachmaninov Society in Moscow (the group spells his last name with a V). Mr. Poliansky told the Govorit Moskva radio station that “nobody in America needs him,” referring to Rachmaninoff, or his remains. “America doesn’t need anyone, except itself,” he said.

Ms. Wanamaker disputed that. “It’s not possible to privatize a name that’s well known,” she said, also noting that her great-great-grandfather “was always proud to be a Russian, even while he was living in exile in America.”

“There is no separating Sergei Rachmaninoff from Russia,” Ms. Wanamaker said. “His music is the embodiment of the Russian romantic spirit. It’s the embodiment of the Russian soul.”

She added, “I believe the name Rachmaninoff, because it’s recognized and respected, gives Medinsky a platform to spout his nationalism.” She suggested that Mr. Medinsky was “trying to politicize a personal choice” – Rachmaninoff’s decision to leave Russia and never return.

Ms. Wanamaker said that Rachmaninoff, great as he was, was not the only one to think about.

“He rests next to his wife and his daughter,” she said, “and there’s no mention of moving them. So they want to separate his family, one that he fought to keep together through the Russian Revolution, through World War II? It’s simply unconscionable.”

My wishes?  I want to go like El Cid.  Shove a stick up my butt, light me on fire, and give my horse a slap on the ass.

It’s kind of unfair to the horse.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

On This Day In History September 12

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.

October 12 is the 285th day of the year (286th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 80 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1810, Bavarian Crown Prince Louis, later King Louis I of Bavaria, marries Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.

The Bavarian royalty invited the citizens of Munich to attend the festivities, held on the fields in front of the city gates. These famous public fields were named Theresienwiese-“Therese’s fields”-in honor of the crown princess; although locals have since abbreviated the name simply to the “Wies’n.” Horse races in the presence of the royal family concluded the popular event, celebrated in varying forms all across Bavaria.

Oktoberfest is a 16-18 day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture. Other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modelled after the Munich event.

The Munich Oktoberfest, traditionally, takes place during the sixteen days up to and including the first Sunday in October. In 1994, the schedule was modified in response to German reunification so that if the first Sunday in October falls on the 1st or 2nd, then the festival will go on until October 3 (German Unity Day). Thus, the festival is now 17 days when the first Sunday is October 2 and 18 days when it is October 1. In 2010, the festival lasts until the first Monday in October, to mark the 200-year anniversary of the event. The festival is held in an area named the Theresienwiese (field, or meadow, of Therese), often called Wiesn for short, located near Munich’s centre.

Visitors eat huge amounts of traditional hearty fare such as Hendl (chicken), Schweinsbraten (roast pork), Schweinshaxe (ham hock), Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick), Würstl (sausages) along with Brezn (Pretzel), Knödel (potato or bread dumplings), Kasspatzn (cheese noodles), Reiberdatschi (potato pancakes), Sauerkraut or Blaukraut (red cabbage) along with such Bavarian delicacies as Obatzda (a spiced cheese-butter spread) and Weisswurst (a white sausage).

First hundred years

In the year 1811, an agricultural show was added to boost Bavarian agriculture. The horse race persisted until 1960, the agricultural show still exists and it is held every four years on the southern part of the festival grounds. In 1816, carnival booths appeared; the main prizes were silver, porcelain, and jewelry. The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility for festival management in 1819, and it was agreed that the Oktoberfest would become an annual event. Later, it was lengthened and the date pushed forward, the reason being that days are longer and warmer at the end of September.

To honour the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, a parade took place for the first time in 1835. Since 1850, this has become a yearly event and an important component of the Oktoberfest. 8,000 people-mostly from Bavaria-in traditional costumes walk from Maximilian Street, through the centre of Munich, to the Oktoberfest. The march is led by the Münchner Kindl.

Since 1850, the statue of Bavaria has watched the Oktoberfest. This worldly Bavarian patron was first sketched by Leo von Klenze in a classic style and Ludwig Michael Schwanthaler romanticised and “Germanised” the draft; it was constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller.

In 1853, the Bavarian Ruhmeshalle was finished. In 1854, 3,000 residents of Munich succumbed to an epidemic of cholera, so the festival was cancelled. Also, in the year 1866, there was no Oktoberfest as Bavaria fought in the Austro-Prussian War. In 1870, the Franco-Prussian war was the reason for cancellation of the festival. In 1873, the festival was once more cancelled due to a cholera epidemic. In 1880, the electric light illuminated over 400 booths and tents (Albert Einstein helped install light bulbs in the Schottenhamel tent as an apprentice in his uncle’s electricity business in 1896). In 1881, booths selling bratwursts opened. Beer was first served in glass mugs in 1892.

At the end of the 19th century, a re-organization took place. Until then, there were games of skittles, large dance floors, and trees for climbing in the beer booths. They wanted more room for guests and musicians. The booths became beer halls.

In 1887, the Entry of the Oktoberfest Staff and Breweries took place for the first time. This event showcases the splendidly decorated horse teams of the breweries and the bands that play in the festival tents. This event always takes place on the first Saturday of the Oktoberfest and symbolises the official prelude to the Oktoberfest celebration

In the year 1910, Oktoberfest celebrated its 100th birthday. 120,000 litres of beer were poured. In 1913, the Braurosl was founded, which was the largest Oktoberfest beer tent of all time, with room for about 12,000 guests.

I have very fond memories of Oktoberfest. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Europe, do it in late September because this is a must see and experience.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Amy Schumer)

Last Day

Football Town

War Games

Cat Park

Twue Wuve


Therapy Part 2

More Therapy

Celebrity Interview

Amy Schumer is as funny as Bill Murray, and I like Bill Murray a lot.

I hope she get the bulk of the time because I don’t much like Stephen King (it’s a jealousy thing, his style is too similar to my own).  The musical guest is Troubled Waters.

This is a minor mystery

According to the New York Times, Troubled Waters is an unknown Paul Simon tribute band, which makes sense considering the iconic singer/songwriter’s track “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” However, the group doesn’t have any social media presence–not a Facebook, Twitter or Soundcloud–so we’re going to wager that this is some elaborate prank. Will it be Paul Simon himself? Will Colbert go the “Fallon” route and do his best Paul Simon impression? Is it some to-be-named supergroup?