April 20, 2013 archive

Apr 20

“I was a killing machine,” said the doctor.

It was not an idle boast.  

It was an understatement.

If you have not read The Rape of Nanking, you perhaps are incredulous that the atrocities matched any horrors anywhere ever with a bizarre twist that was beyond even the imagination of Kurt Vonnegut.  A Nazi was the lead hero of a true story (“I will tell Hitler on you.”).

How does a fiendish mass murderer who excelled in killing contests become a gentle doctor?

The answer is quite simple and has been extolled and explained over and over but you wouldn’t listen would you?

[“You” is generic for the other people.  Certainly not you and I.]

The doctor was a member of a cult, in this case the Japanese Imperial Army.  Separate the members from the cult and they become human again.  It is pack mentality that afflicts us all.

My impression – impression only mind you – is that Dzhokar Tsarnaev is more like a cult member than a psychopath.

A two-member cult?  

Why not?  There are bizarre, chilling stories of twin language that has twins in a world of their own on occasion.  They even speak a language unintelligible to outsiders.

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.  The actor even carried out the role to his end.

Those outside the club are never really human.

Just speculating about the dynamic duo, the Boston bombers, that are not remotely the international conspiracy portrayed earlier from the evidence available.

Best,  Terry

Apr 20

On This Day In History April 20

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

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.

April 20 is the 110th day of the year (111th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 255 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1939, Billie Holiday records the first Civil Rights song “Strange Fruit”.

“Strange Fruit” was written by the teacher Abel Meeropol as a poem, it condemned American racism, particularly the lynching of African Americans. Such lynchings had occurred chiefly in the South but also in all other regions of the United States. He set it to music and with his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, performed it as a protest song in New York venues, including Madison Square Garden.

The song has been covered by numerous artists, as well as inspiring novels, other poems and other creative works. In 1978 Holiday’s version of the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also included in the list of Songs of the Century, by the Recording Industry of America and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In the poem, Meeropol expressed his horror at lynchings, possibly after having seen Lawrence Beitler‘s photograph of the 1930 lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith in Marion, Indiana. He published the poem in 1936 in The New York Teacher, a union magazine. Though Meeropol/Allan had often asked others (notably Earl Robinson) to set his poems to music, he set “Strange Fruit” to music himself. The piece gained a certain success as a protest song in and around New York. Meeropol, his wife, and black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden. (Meeropol and his wife later adopted Robert and Michael, sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted of espionage and executed by the United States.)

Barney Josephson, the founder of Cafe Society in Greenwich Village, New York’s first integrated nightclub, heard the song and introduced it to Billie Holiday. Other reports say that Robert Gordon, who was directing Billie Holiday’s show at Cafe Society, heard the song at Madison Square Garden and introduced it to her. Holiday first performed the song at Cafe Society in 1939. She said that singing it made her fearful of retaliation, but because its imagery reminded her of her father, she continued to sing it. She made the piece a regular part of her live performances. Because of the poignancy of the song, Josephson drew up some rules: Holiday would close with it; second, the waiters would stop all service in advance; the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday’s face; and there would be no encore.

Holiday approached her recording label, Columbia, about the song, but the company feared reaction by record retailers in the South, as well as negative reaction from affiliates of its co-owned radio network, CBS. Even John Hammond, Holiday’s producer, refused. She turned to friend Milt Gabler, whose Commodore label produced alternative jazz. Holiday sang “Strange Fruit” for him a cappella, and moved him to tears. Columbia allowed Holiday a one-session release from her contract in order to record it. Frankie Newton’s eight-piece Cafe Society Band was used for the session. Because he was worried that the song was too short, Gabler asked pianist Sonny White to improvise an introduction. Consequently Holiday doesn’t start singing until after 70 seconds. Gabler worked out a special arrangement with Vocalion Records to record and distribute the song.

She recorded two major sessions at Commodore, one in 1939 and one in 1944. “Strange Fruit” was highly regarded. In time, it became Holiday’s biggest-selling record. Though the song became a staple of her live performances, Holiday’s accompanist Bobby Tucker recalled that Holiday would break down every time after she sang it

   Strange Fruit

   Southern trees bear strange fruit,

   Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,

   Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,

   Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

   Pastoral scene of the gallant South,

   The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,

   Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,

   Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

   Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,

   For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,

   For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop,

   Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Apr 20

Australia, Australia, Australia, Australia

This here’s the wattle – the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle or you can hold it in your hand.

Apr 20

Cartnoon

Apr 20

Late Night Karaoke

Apr 20

Stop CISPA Moves to the Senate

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Stop CISPA The controversial data sharing bill, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was passed by the House by a vote of 288 – 127, as 92 Democrats voted for the bill, while 29 Republicans voted against it. The bill passed without the privacy protections that civil liberties advocates felt were necessary, an objection that was echoed by the White House with a veto threat earlier this week. An attempt by the lead sponsors of the bill, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), offered an amendment to mollify the objections but privacy advocates stated that it fell short of what was needed to safeguard an individual’s right to privacy.

Amendments that were proposed to protect Fourth Amendment rights were not even allowed debate by the rules committee:

Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, proposed a one-sentence amendment (PDF) that would have required the National Security Agency, the FBI, Homeland Security, and other agencies to secure a “warrant obtained in accordance with the Fourth Amendment” before searching a database for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Grayson complained this morning on Twitter that House Republicans “wouldn’t even allow debate on requiring a warrant before a search.” [..]

CISPA is controversial because it overrules all existing federal and state laws by saying “notwithstanding any other provision of law,” including privacy policies and wiretap laws, companies may share cybersecurity-related information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” It would not, however, require them to do so. [..]

Because Grayson’s amendment was not permitted, CISPA will allow the federal government to compile a database of information shared by private companies and search that information for possible violations of hundreds, if not thousands, of criminal laws. [..]

“The government could use this information to investigate gun shows” and football games because of the threat of serious bodily harm if accidents occurred, Polis said. “What do these things even have to do with cybersecurity?… From football to gun show organizing, you’re really far afield.”

At the heart of CISPA is warrantless searches a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment which reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This has had a strange effect of uniting the left and right in the opposition to the bill. The Tea Party aligned group Freedom Works issued this statement:

CISPA would allow for more information sharing between the private sector and the federal government regarding cyber security. Although this year’s CISPA is a net improvement over last year’s bill, it still leaves open concerns about private information being shared in the name of national security.

There are grave Fourth Amendment concerns with CISPA. The bill would override existing privacy laws to allow companies to share “cyber threat information” with the federal government without making any reasonable effort to strip out any personal information from the file.

They even have a site to actively Stop CISPA along with the ACLU and the Electronic Freedom Foundation. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Passage in the Senate without addition of privacy protections is doubtful but one never knows:

The discussion now shifts to the Democrat-controlled Senate, which appears unlikely to act on the legislation in the wake of a presidential veto threat earlier this week, and an executive order in January that may reduce the need for new legislation. Today’s House vote, on the other hand, could increase pressure on the Senate to enact some sort of legislation.

Sen. John Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who was involved in last year’s cybersecurity debate, said after today’s vote that “CISPA’s privacy protections are insufficient.” Still, Rockefeller said, “I believe we can gain bipartisan agreement on bills that we can report out of our committees and allow [Majority Leader Harry Reid] to bring them to the Senate floor as early as possible.”

We urge everyone to keep the pressure on the Senate and the White House by calling and e-mailing your objections:

The White House switchboard is 202-456-1414.

The comments line is 202-456-1111.

The White House email address is here

Numbers for the Senate are here.

E-mail addresses for the Senate are here

Please be polite and on point.

The late internet activist Aaron Swartz called CISPA the “The Patriot Act of the Internet”.

Contact the White House and your Senators to protect your privacy rights.

Apr 20

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is 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.

 photo WAlnutFocaccia_zps062d9945.jpg

I routinely throw them into salads of all kinds, and finely chopped walnuts can go into everything from omelets to pungent Mediterranean nut-based sauces to soups, pasta dishes and of course desserts. I consider them a pantry staple and keep a bag of shelled walnuts in the freezer at all times. When unshelled walnuts are available at my farmers’ market I keep them on hand as well. I use them up so quickly that I probably don’t need to keep the shelled walnuts in the freezer, but that’s where I always keep my nuts, because the oils in nuts are volatile and they can become rancid if they are not kept in a cool environment. I toast walnuts occasionally, but most often I prefer the sweeter flavor of fresh untoasted walnuts.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Walnut Fougasse or Focaccia

Mediterranean flatbread where walnuts and their oil stand in for olives.

Leek and Turnip Soup With Kale and Walnut Garnish

The crunchy walnuts contrast beautifully with the smooth, sweet-tasting soup.

Green Bean and Fava Bean Salad With Walnuts

Two seasonal beans make a beautiful salad for spring.

Mache and Endive Salad With Clementines and Walnuts

A salad with two high-omega-3 ingredients.

Iranian Herb and Walnut Frittata

A classic Persian herb frittata with yogurt and walnuts.

Apr 20

Random Japan

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MILESTONES

A blind Japanese acupuncturist who lives in San Diego is attempting to become the first sightless man to sail across the Pacific Ocean.

A research team led by scientists at the University of Tokyo say they may have found “a clue for developing drugs to kill multidrug-resistant bacteria.”

Researchers at the National Cancer Center recommend consuming 20 grams of saturated fatty acid daily to ward off strokes and heart attacks. That’s equivalent to “200 grams of milk a day and 150 grams of meat every other day.”

Headline of the Week: “Cat and Bird Corpses Left on Store Escalator Again” (via Mainichi Japan)

Apr 20

Cognitive Dissonance

Ashley Del Valle, 38, decided to take a vacation from her home in Queens, New York to sunny Savannah, GA.

Apparently that was her first mistake.

Del Valle has been living as a woman for 20 year and had her name legally changed in 2002.  She and her cousin decided a trip to Savannah would be fun.  They were wrong.

On Saturday Night, April 6, Ashley chose a sheer blouse to wear on their nightlife adventure for that day.  Mistake number two.

Del Valle, who appeared on an episode of TLC’s “NY Ink,” said she and her cousin were club hopping and hit popular gay club Club One as well as other clubs before stopping in Ellis Square to decide where to go to eat.

She said many people recognized her from the TV show and she was posing for pictures with tourists.

GA Voice

Early that morning (about 1am) she was arrested for indecent exposure by a Savannah Chatham Metro Police officer.  The police report claims that her breasts were exposed.  She disputed the arrest, which earned her a second charge of disorderly conduct.

She was then taken to the jail, where a she was examined by a nurse, who discovered she was still “technically male.”  So she was placed in a holding cell in the men’s portion of the jail.  For two days she was referred to as “a thing” and otherwise harassed.

I felt like I just wasn’t being treated like a human being.

–Del Valle