June 29, 2011 archive

Pet Peeves


Attentive readers know that I maintain several email accounts to categorize my contacts and anonymize myself.  I mostly keep them with Yahoo since Google data mines the contents and sells it.

“Oh, there’s absolutely no way to pick up personal information out of our aggregates.”


The acceptable inconvenience I tolerate for my privacy illusions is the necessity of renewing with activity each account every month.  If you don’t show up and at least read your mail Yahoo flushes you and recycles your user name.

What I find unacceptably inconvenient is their persistent and arbitrary upgrades despite your expressed desire to simply keep your current service.

It’s planned obsolescence of the worst sort, change for the sake of nothing.  There is no improvement in functionality, no new features, they just shuffled the skin to make it harder to read and less intuitive to use by putting your most common tasks several more button clicks away at the bottom of layers of nested menus.

Together with the new News format it causes me to despair of computing altogether (despair of computing) and want to bash rocks against each other to create glyphs and pictograms.

Hey, at least it’s aerobic exercise.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

Wednesday is mishima‘s well deserved day of rest

These featured articles-

The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

The Next Civil-Rights Movement [sic]

The Cheat Sheet at The Daily Beast  provides us the following:

The Next Civil-Rights Movement

The 700,000 or so transgender people in the United States are, Eliza Gray writes in The New Republic, “some of the least protected, most persecuted people in the United States.”  One transgender person is murdered each month; more than one-third have attempted suicide; more than one-quarter say they’ve lost a job due to discrimination.  Gray tracks the story of one particular transgender woman, Caroline Temmermand.  In 2009, at the age of 55, she came out as transgender and soon thereafter began telling her family and children.  Last spring, she organized a vigil for Chrissy Lee Polis, the transgender woman whose attack was caught on video camera after she attempted to use a woman’s bathroom in a McDonald’s. “Transgender people clearly need more protection from our laws and society,” Gray writes. “But they can’t win these victories on their own.”


Lumberjack Rabbit

Greece Passes Raid On Public Assets

Today Greece passed the ‘Austerity’ measure forced on it by the EU – tax hikes, benefit reductions, layoffs, and a sell off of 72 Billion dollars worth of public assets.  

Before the vote, one protester said on Wednesday that Greeks’ lives “are going to change forever” if the measures were approved. “If you belong to the middle class, that doesn’t exist anymore. There’s only rich and poor.”

Another protester, Anastasia Arvanitiki, 57, a pharmacist, said, “What they’re voting on is exactly the opposite of what they were elected to do.”

“They’ll be the worst criminals in history” if the vote goes through, she said. “We want to see them hanged.”


Oh, those radical pharmacists. Rabble rousers, that lot.  

Outside Parliament, protesters had massed for a second day in Syntagma Square, shouting, “Traitors, traitors!” and the police repeatedly fired tear gas to maintain control after the vote. The demonstrators, the majority of whom were peaceful, came prepared with surgical masks to protect against the gas.


People have to wake up.  The corporations are coming for every damn thing you have.

California will close up to 70 of its 278 parks to help narrow its budget gap, officials said on Friday


But, back to Greece.

Greece funnels billions of euros (dollars) into its military, spending more of its gross domestic product – 2.8 percent in 2008 – on it than any other European Union country, and second only in NATO to the United States.


“For the past three months, there were several billions in arms contracts that we forced Greece to confirm: French frigates … helicopters, airplanes, German submarines. It’s hypocrisy,” Cohn-Bendit said at a news conference in Paris earlier this month.

“We want to make money … on the backs of the Greeks,” he said.


“I honestly feel national shame each time I am forced to buy weapons we do not need – based on an objective and correct estimate of the dangers the world as it is holds for Greece,” Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said earlier this month…

From here: http://turkeymacedonia.wordpre…


Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

MBIA is the Municipal Bond Insurance Association.  It is a monoline insurer that expanded into the Collateralized Debt Obligation market in the 90s and naughty aughties.

As it became undeniable that they’d engaged in Insurance Fraud and didn’t have nearly enough assets to pay off their policies their Insurance Financial Strength (IFS) rating declined from AAA in April of 2008 to BBB in March of 2010.

In 2009 they restructured the company, splitting off the original (and still profitable because they never default) municipal bond operation from the highly speculative and money losing CDO business.

The Insurance Superintendent of New York State oked this and MBIA has been using his approval to prevent defrauded customers like Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and RBS from bringing suit for fraudulent conveyance and breach of contract.  Well today the New York State Court of Appeals (don’t let the name fool you, this is the final court in New York) ruled that this was not legal and the suits could proceed.

NY Court: MBIA Policyholders Can Sue

By ERIK HOLM, The Wall Street Journal

JUNE 28, 2011, 12:57 P.M. ET

The judges in the majority in Tuesday’s ruling wrote that MBIA was wrong in its contention that a provision in New York state insurance law allowed the state insurance superintendent to be the “exclusive arbiter of all private claims” related to the MBIA restructuring plan.

“A cursory reading of the plain language reveals that it does not vest the Superintendent with the power to consider causes of action, such as plaintiffs’,” the judges wrote.

ABN AMRO and the other policyholders contend the restructuring wrongly left the account that backed the policies sold on structured securities without enough money to pay claims.

“The Court of Appeals has squarely rejected MBIA’s efforts to shut the courthouse door,” said Robert Giuffra, lead counsel for the banks and a partner with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, in a statement. “We’re confident that MBIA’s fraudulent restructuring will be reversed.”

Much as I hate rooting for objectively bad actors like BoA to succeed, the truth is that having the vampire squid cannabilize each other in a feeding frenzy of fear and greed is the most likely avenue to punishing them the way they deserve.

Keeping The Door Open To Torture

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

During his confirmation hearings to replace Leon Panetta as CIA director, General David Petraeus, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, told Senate Intelligence Committee that:

(Sen. Mark) Udall was clearly trying to get Petraeus to reiterate his opposition to torture – he read back several quotes Petraeus himself had given saying such techniques are immoral and when they’ve been used, they’ve “turned around and bitten us in the backside.” Udall asked, “do you see torture any differently in a CIA context than in a military context?”

But Petraeus instead pivoted to the TV-ready “ticking time bomb” scenario, and said torture might be justified if you have a “special situation” where an “individual in your hands who you know has placed a nuclear device under the Empire State Building. It goes off in 30 minutes, he has the codes to turn it off.” Then he urged legislators to consider crafting such an exception into the law:

I think that is a special case. I think there should be discussion of that by policymakers and by Congress. I think that it should be thought out ahead of time. There should be a process if indeed there is going to be something more than, again, the normal techniques employed in such a case. And again, I — I would certainly submit that that would be very helpful if that kind of debate could be held and if some resolution could be made as to what should be done in a case like that so that it is worked out ahead of time, rather than under an extraordinary sense of pressure in such a situation.

Torture is not a value that Americans have died for and it is beyond being stupid, it is illegal.

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness 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.

Asparagus With an Italian Twist


   Italians have a way with this vegetable, both the pencil-thin stalks that grow wild in the countryside and the thicker cultivated varieties.

   Simply steamed or boiled, asparagus can be served with a range of condiments and sauces, from Parmesan and butter to anchovies and capers to gremolata – a mixture of finely chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. Italian cooks also use asparagus in risottos and toss it with pastas; they scramble the thin variety with eggs and use it to fill frittatas.

Asparagus is an excellent, low-calorie source of vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, vitamin A and nutrients like tryptophan, manganese and fiber.

Asparagus With Anchovies and Capers

Made with very thin asparagus, this dish is common in Italy and a neighboring region of Croatia, Istria.

Lasagna With Asparagus and Chives

Lasagna need not be assembled and baked. This version can be thrown together like any other pasta dish.

Asparagus With Gremolata, Lemon and Olive Oil

This dish is an Italian classic from the Lombardy region.

Asparagus Rolled in Herb Crepes

These crepes make a wonderful main course for a vegetarian dinner party.

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad

Italian cooks have found dozens of inventive ways to use asparagus, including this tasty salad.

Inslee Running For Washington Governor, Supports Full Marriage Equality

Congressman Jay Inslee (WA-01) announced his candidacy for Governor of the State of Washington in Seattle Monday, and Your Erstwhile Reporter was present.

The candidacy was announced with a speech that focused on “process improvements” and the invocation of new technology jobs as an economic engine for job growth (and in fact the event took place at the headquarters of a company that has developed seed-derived biofuels that have been used to power military and commercial aircraft).

But that’s not the part that’s going to be the most interesting for the civil-rights supportive reader.

The most interesting part is that Inslee was quick to offer his support for full marriage equality in the State of Washington, should he find himself elected.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.

–Frederick Perls

Blitz 1

Late Night Karaoke

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

If you can’t watch here Timbuk3 has supplied a link to DU