April 23, 2011 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

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Join is in the morning for Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition so you can go back to bed or watch the real Sunday Cartoons. Later catch The Rant of the Week an Open Thread for letting off steam and for Translator‘s weekly feature Pique the Geek.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

All You Need To Know About American Movies

American Movies

Two of these guys were combat photographers. The other guy is a hunky little actor who plays a combat photographer in a new American movie.

Exceptional Criminogenic Environment

For all those who had been hoping for swift but fair judicial treatment for criminal bank actions … dont hold your breath. “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Thrift Supervision have spent the past few days completing the settlements with some of the largest U.S. banks, including Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup Inc. The pacts would resolve only part of a large probe involving a group of 50 state attorneys general and about a dozen federal agencies.” But don’t worry, banks won’t actually have to part with even one dollar:

For all the “investigations” into criminal behavior by the largest Wall Street banks it is Main Street that has felt the pain. According to the NYT some 6.7 million homes have already been lost in the housing bust, and another 3.3 million will be lost through 2012. According to Zillow a staggering $9 trillion in home equity has been lost since the real estate market peaked in June 2006.

Caused in large part by reckless lending and excessive risk taking by major financial institutions, no senior executives have been charged or imprisoned, and a collective government effort has not emerged. This stands in stark contrast to the savings and loan crises in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail.

A lawsuit filed against the SEC over the Madoff ponzi scheme was ruled on Tuesday. The suit alleged that the SEC had been repeatedly tipped off to the Madoff situation and flat-out failed to address it.

In any event, a federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the suit, which alleged the SEC had acted with “gross negligence.” U.S. District Judge Laura Swain ruled that the plaintiffs had failed to “identify any specific, mandatory duty that the SEC violated.”

Nevertheless, Swain excoriated the SEC, calling its behavior “sloppy,” “uninformed,” and “irresponsible.”  That said, continued Swain, “that the conduct in question defied common sense and reeked of incompetency does not indicate that any formal, specific, mandatory policy was ‘likely’ violated.”

It has become all to apparent that in todays Washington, Wall Street environment that being a bumbling idiot, even to the point of criminal will only get you a “strongly” worded reprimand and, quite possibly, a promotion.  

What’s Cooking: Crab Cakes

I was raised by the sea and seafood has been a main part of my diet. When I was a kid, my Dad and I spent weekends at the beach nearly year round. We would catch out own bate, fish, dig for clams and set crab traps near the sea wall that lined the inlet. That was back when the water was clean. now all of my seafood comes from the local supermarket that has an excellent department and a manager that is quite knowledgeable.

One of my favorite dishes is Crab cakes. Crab Cakes are an American dish composed of crab meat and various other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, yellow onions, and seasonings. Occasionally other ingredients such as red or green peppers or pink radishes are added, at which point the cake is then sautéed, baked, or grilled. They can be served on a bun or, as in the recipe here, on a bed of lettuce either as an appetizer of main dish depending on how big they’re made. The ones in this recipe are sautéed.

Maryland Crab Cakes are the official food of The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a horse race that is run on the third Saturday of May each year.

Crab Cakes with Herb Salad



   1/2 cup grapeseed oil (I use a good extra virgin olive oil)

   1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

   1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

   1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

   1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon minced green onion

   1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Crab cakes

   1/4 cup mayonnaise

   1/4 cup minced green onions

   2 large egg yolks

   2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

   4 teaspoons minced fresh dill

   4 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon

   4 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro

   1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

   1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel

   1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

   1 pound blue crabmeat or Dungeness crabmeat

   2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs),* divided

   2 tablespoons (or more) butter

   2 tablespoons (or more) grapeseed oil (Canola oil is a good substitute)

   2 5-ounce containers herb salad mix

   Fresh dill sprigs

   Fresh tarragon sprigs

   Fresh cilantro sprigs

   *Available in the Asian foods section of supermarkets and at Asian markets.


For vinaigrette:

Whisk oil, lemon juice, dill, tarragon, cilantro, green onion, and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For crab cakes:

Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Whisk first 10 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in crabmeat and 1 cup panko, breaking up crabmeat slightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Place remaining panko on rimmed baking sheet, spreading slightly. Form crab mixture into sixteen 2-inch-diameter patties, using about scant 1/4 cup for each. Press both sides of patties into panko. Transfer patties to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 heavy large skillets over medium-high heat. Add crab cakes to skillets and cook until golden on both sides, adding more butter and oil as needed, about 5 minutes total.

Place salad mix in very large bowl. Add 1/2 cup vinaigrette; toss. Arrange crab cakes on platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, drizzle with some of remaining vinaigrette, and serve with salad.

John Henry was a steel driving man

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Management Myth

By Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic

June, 2006

After I left the consulting business, in a reversal of the usual order of things, I decided to check out the management literature. Partly, I wanted to “process” my own experience and find out what I had missed in skipping business school. Partly, I had a lot of time on my hands. As I plowed through tomes on competitive strategy, business process re-engineering, and the like, not once did I catch myself thinking, Damn! If only I had known this sooner! Instead, I found myself thinking things I never thought I’d think, like, I’d rather be reading Heidegger! It was a disturbing experience. It thickened the mystery around the question that had nagged me from the start of my business career: Why does management education exist?

Management theory came to life in 1899 with a simple question: “How many tons of pig iron bars can a worker load onto a rail car in the course of a working day?” The man behind this question was Frederick Winslow Taylor, the author of The Principles of Scientific Management and, by most accounts, the founding father of the whole management business.

Taylor was forty-three years old and on contract with the Bethlehem Steel Company when the pig iron question hit him. Staring out over an industrial yard that covered several square miles of the Pennsylvania landscape, he watched as laborers loaded ninety-two-pound bars onto rail cars. There were 80,000 tons’ worth of iron bars, which were to be carted off as fast as possible to meet new demand sparked by the Spanish-American War. Taylor narrowed his eyes: there was waste there, he was certain. After hastily reviewing the books at company headquarters, he estimated that the men were currently loading iron at the rate of twelve and a half tons per man per day.

Taylor stormed down to the yard with his assistants (“college men,” he called them) and rounded up a group of top-notch lifters (“first-class men”), who in this case happened to be ten “large, powerful Hungarians.” He offered to double the workers’ wages in exchange for their participation in an experiment. The Hungarians, eager to impress their apparent benefactor, put on a spirited show. Huffing up and down the rail car ramps, they loaded sixteen and a half tons in something under fourteen minutes. Taylor did the math: over a ten-hour day, it worked out to seventy-five tons per day per man. Naturally, he had to allow time for bathroom breaks, lunch, and rest periods, so he adjusted the figure approximately 40 percent downward. Henceforth, each laborer in the yard was assigned to load forty-seven and a half pig tons per day, with bonus pay for reaching the target and penalties for failing.

When the Hungarians realized that they were being asked to quadruple their previous daily workload, they howled and refused to work. So Taylor found a “high-priced man,” a lean Pennsylvania Dutchman whose intelligence he compared to that of an ox. Lured by the promise of a 60 percent increase in wages, from $1.15 to a whopping $1.85 a day, Taylor’s high-priced man loaded forty-five and three-quarters tons over the course of a grueling day-close enough, in Taylor’s mind, to count as the first victory for the methods of modern management.

Of course, at the end of the song John Henry dies (h/t Avedon @ Eschaton).


The Cat Who Knew Too Much

Accessory After The Fact

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

DOJ Sits On Its Thumbs A Year After Macondo’s Mouth Of Hell Roared

By: bmaz Friday April 22, 2011 5:31 am

Jason Anderson, Aaron Dale Burkeen, Donald Clark, Stephen Curtis, Roy Wyatt Kemp, Karl Kleppinger, Gordon Jones, Blair Manuel, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, Adam Weise

These are names you should know. These are the first, and most blatant, victims of the Deepwater Horizon explosion at Macondo. Their actual names do not quickly come to the tongue, nor are they so easy to find. In fact, you know what I had to do to find them? Go through the same process this guy did. And, still, the first link I found them at was his post.

(N)othing, not diddly squat, has been done. And if the corporate powers that be in this country, and the political puppets who serve them, including Barack Obama, Eric Holder and the currently politicized Department of Justice, have anything to say about it (and they have everything to say about it) nothing significant is going to be done about BP, TransOcean, Halliburton and the Gulf tragedy, or anything related, in the future.

Like the craven and dishonest shell game that has been played by the current administration with regard to torture and destruction of evidence, the US government appears to simply be determined to shine this on with the bare minimum of faux accountability and disingenuous rhetoric to soothe the perturbed masses and maintain status quo with their partners in corporate/political domination of the American populous. That is clearly who they are, and quite apparently who we have become.

So, what could have been the process? Well, that is pretty easily delineated. In fact, I set it out definitively on May 28th of last year. Please refer to the link to the post for a complete list of the factors, nee elements of the crimes, that were already present a year ago. It is startling to realize what was already known then; especially when compounded with what is known now. The only difference today is that we can definitively add the United States government, and the administration of Barack Obama, to the queue of “Criminals in the Gulf“.

Nothing To See Here

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Radioactive Iodine Found In Human Breast Milk

Tiny Fish Spur Widening Worry

Japan Discovers High Radiation Levels in One Species, Stoking Environmental and Safety Concerns

By JURO OSAWA and YOREE KOH in Tokyo and DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI in Kesennuma, Japan, The Wall Street Journal

APRIL 6, 2011

Officials from Tepco and the agency have said repeatedly that the level of radiation that has seeped into the sea over the past two weeks-while measured at highly elevated levels right near the plant-posed no major immediate threat to humans or to the environment, because the water disperses quickly into the vast ocean. But the contaminated fish were caught about 50 miles south of the reactors, well beyond the 12.5-mile evacuation perimeter.

One sample of konago caught Friday contained twice the permissible level of radioactive iodine-131, which has a half-life of eight days and which can accumulate in the thyroid in humans, possibly raising the risk of thyroid cancer. The other konago sample, caught Monday, had just over the permissible limit for cesium, an element with an uncertain impact on human health. Three different types of cesium were discovered, one of which has a half-life of 30 years.

The reports of contaminated fish have followed reports of tainted produce including spinach and broccoli, as well as raw milk, in Fukushima prefecture and other areas close to the reactors. The reports of contaminated seafood are potentially more worrisome, because the contaminated seawater, and the fish, move in uncontrollable and untraceable paths.

Six In The Morning

Powerful storm blows out windows at St. Louis airport

Some injuries reported from possible tornado; cars overturned, baseball fans evacuated

NBC, msnbc.com and news services

ST. LOUIS – A powerful storm packing heavy rain, hail and tornadoes pummeled the St. Louis area late Friday, blowing out glass at the airport and overturning cars in the garage, authorities said.

At least five people were treated for minor injuries at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, said airport spokesman Jerry Lea. Four were taken to the hospital.

Lea said the injuries were believed to be from shattered glass.

The storm lifted the roof and blew out glass on Concord C, airport officials said. Upper-level terminals were damaged and vehicles were reported overturned at the parking garage. An Air National Guard facility at the airport was also reportedly damaged.

Late Night Karaoke

Random Japan



Police in Tokyo arrested two people for selling a drug called premium zeolite that they claimed “was effective for detoxification, including dealing with contamination from radioactive substances.” Apparently, the pair did not have proper licenses and those claims were unproven.

One good thing to come out of the quake: Japan Tobacco’s distribution bases were damaged, resulting in a “nationwide shortage of cigarettes” with only about 25 percent of the supply available compared to pre-quake levels.

Instead of the regularly scheduled Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, the scandal-plagued sport has decided instead to hold a test meet in Tokyo in May to figure out the rankings for the Nagoya basho in July.

As expected, the number of foreign visitors to Japan plummeted after the big earthquake/tsunami, with about 3,400 foreigners a day entering the country through Narita Airport from March 11-31-down 75 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau.

Kaichiro Saito, a sake brewer from Miyagi whose business has dried up in the wake of March 11, has called on folks to raise a glass or two. “I hope people buy more products from northern Japan rather than restrain themselves,” said Saito, who lost 80 percent of his customers. “That would be the best way to show support.”

Meanwhile, many of the traditional hanami cherry-blossom-viewing parties were scrapped this year with some people just not in the mood to party.

Original v. Cover — #75 in a Series

Running Away From Home Pictures, Images and Photos

To those who have supported this series during its nearly eighteen months since it began, please accept my sincere thanks. The give and take discussions with those of you who commented on these essays contributed immeasurably to the energy this writer needed to continue with this project for as long as he did. Other priorities and obligations beckon, although hope remains that it may be possible to submit a few more essays in the future, only on a less frequent and consistent basis than in the past.

So, on with the final weekly Original v. Cover essay…

Fifty years ago, this week’s selection occupied the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for four weeks from April 24-May 22, 1961 on its way to becoming an international hit. Rolling Stone magazine ranked the song at #466 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.  

Some of us may remember the song with a sense of nostalgia; yet others reading this account may have parents who weren’t even born yet in 1961.  Whatever the case may be, this week’s selection has had incredible staying power, and continues to be performed frequently through the present day.

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