March 11, 2012 archive

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The Stars Hollow Gazette may truly be disruptive technology – please check it out TODAY

I haven’t made the time to directly check out, myself, too much. I started to join, but their system insisted on one of my twitter, facebook, or linkedin accounts, and I didn’t want to use any pre-existing ones. I’ll definitely join, later, but the potential of votizen to seriously shake things up seems too important not to be examined, by the FDL community, ASAP.

I had one main question, which I couldn’t get a solid clue to, before a little more googling, today. And that question is, DOES THIS TECHNOLOGY RESPECT 3RD PARTIES? People familiar with my writings know that I favor building up 3rd parties, but also reforming the Democratic and Republican parties. (For examples of my writings on voting strategies, see Recommended Short and Long Term Voting Strategies for the Dump Obama Movement and “Dump Corporate Dems” – Going Green at the State Level, to “make Dems do it” at the Federal level)

My biggest fear with votizen is that, while it may help break the stranglehold of corporate cash corrupting the legacy, D and R parties, it would hamstring the citizenry by not facilitating the wishes of citizens who want to vote for a 3rd party – either dumping the legacy parties, completely; or else, as I have recommended, being strategic about things, loyal to principles, but not loyal (or terminally averse to) any party.  Yes, even those dastardly Democratic and Republican parties.

From this page, it appears that they do, indeed, facilitate at least some 3rd parties – in particular, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian party.



Votizen may be well be revolutionary, even though it (apparently) will operate at a primitize level of ‘voting bloc mojo’. I don’t want to get into a big discussion – you can google me re “voting blocs” for my previous comments. But, briefly:

A full voting bloc decides it’s own destiny, from the bottom up, both in terms of policies, candidates, and strategies. That is what can offer, if it gets funded. A proto-voting bloc will have it’s (more limited) options laid out in a top down fashion, with some voting to decide on the group will. A proto-proto-voting bloc will only self-organize, in a granular fashion, around candidates, hopefully, eventually, reform candidates. It’s members’ “votes” (aside from their real-world votes, on election and primary day) are basically their membership in the an online group, akin to a fan group. It’s disruptive potential comes from it’s ability to grow cheaply and rapidly, and to be inherently non-preferential wrt incumbents.

In  this hierarchy, votizen is at the lowest level, though it also goes beyond this by allowing recruitment of volunteers from the ‘proto-proto-voting bloc’. It allows the formation of voting blocs with party and candidate boundaries. A mature voting bloc technology will make parties essentially almost irrelevant – the relevant boundaries are policy boundaries (and, implicitly, ideological boundaries).

For those of you that moan and groan about how bad everything is: You’re partly right, but you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you allow your negativity to blind you to what bright spots are out there. I haven’t come to a final determination of the potential of votizen, but don’t let that, or your own negativity, prevent you from coming to your own fair and open-minded conclusion.

Mountain Dew

It’ll tickle yore innards.

One Year Out, Babe.

A year ago right now, you were spending your last day on the Planet with us.  Who knew?  I mean it had only been a couple weeks since they gave you 1-3 months, and you seemed like you were having a good day. We had did normal stuff.  Normal for cancer, anyway, stuff.  You slept a lot, ate pretty damn well, considering.  I did my show.  You watched March Madness. I listened to my show, it was called “postcards from the class war.”  You slipped away, alone.  I hate that.  I felt so guilty for a while, I had real problems doing the show, and it was months before I could listen to myself again, after.  In fact, I rarely do.  My new routine is to Skype with friends after.  I know its both avoidance and replacement.  I used to talk to you about it after, then have a listen and critique myself.  But they are great people, and its fun.

I can’t believe its been a year.  A year. You should see how tall Jake is getting.  I say that like you can’t.  Well, either you can, and are still here with us in ways, or you are gone and telling you this is an exercise in futility anyway.  Other than the fact, you live IN us, and the process of talking to you makes me work through it better.  You know me.  Sorting it aloud clears my brain.

I woke this morning and the thought of having to do some kind of Memorial thread was so daunting. Writing in general has been sporadic. Talking with you like this?  Not as hard as I thought.  




This episode originally aired April 22, 2005.

That’s Lifomatica, Episode 9, Season 3

You do the best you can.

The plan is to finish Crusade 2, Crusader vs. the Pirates.

On This Day In History March 11

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.

March 11 is the 70th day of the year (71st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 295 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1851, The first performance of Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi takes place in Venice.

Rigoletto is an opera in three acts  with the Italian libretto written by Francesco Maria Piave based on the play Le roi s’amuse by Victor Hugo. It is considered by many to be the first of the operatic masterpieces of Verdi’s middle-to-late career.

Composition history

Verdi was commissioned to write a new opera by the La Fenice opera house in Venice in 1850, at a time when he was already a well-known composer with a degree of freedom in choosing the works he would prefer to set to music. He then asked Piave (with whom he had already created Ernani, I due Foscari, Macbeth, Il Corsaro and Stiffelio) to examine the play Kean by Alexandre Dumas, père, but he felt he needed a more energetic subject to work on.

Verdi soon stumbled upon Victor Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse. He later explained that “It contains extremely powerful positions … The subject is great, immense, and has a character that is one of the most important creations of the theatre of all countries and all Ages”. It was a highly controversial subject and Hugo himself had already had trouble with censorship in France, which had banned productions of his play after its first performance nearly twenty years earlier (and would continue to ban it for another thirty years). As Austria at that time directly controlled much of Northern Italy, it came before the Austrian Board of Censors. Hugo’s play depicted a king (Francis I of France) as an immoral and cynical womanizer, something that was not accepted in Europe during the Restoration period.

From the beginning, Verdi was aware of the risks, as was Piave. In a letter which Verdi wrote to Piave: “Use four legs, run through the town and find me an influential person who can obtain the permission for making Le Roi s’amuse.” Correspondence between a prudent Piave and an already committed Verdi followed, and the two remained at risk and underestimated the power and the intentions of Austrians. Even the friendly Guglielmo Brenna, secretary of La Fenice, who had promised them that they would not have problems with the censors, was wrong.

At the beginning of the summer of 1850, rumors started to spread that Austrian censorship was going to forbid the production. They considered the Hugo work to verge on lèse majesté, and would never permit such a scandalous work to be performed in Venice. In August, Verdi and Piave prudently retired to Busseto, Verdi’s hometown, to continue the composition and prepare a defensive scheme. They wrote to the theatre, assuring them that the censor’s doubts about the morality of the work were not justified but since very little time was left, very little could be done. The work was secretly called by the composers The Malediction (or The Curse), and this unofficial title was used by Austrian censor De Gorzkowski (who evidently had known of it from spies) to enforce, if needed, the violent letter by which he definitively denied consent to its production.

In order not to waste all their work, Piave tried to revise the libretto and was even able to pull from it another opera Il Duca di Vendome, in which the sovereign was substituted with a duke and both the hunchback and the curse disappeared. Verdi was completely against this proposed solution and preferred instead to have direct negotiations with censors, arguing over each and every point of the work.

At this point Brenna, La Fenice’s secretary, showed the Austrians some letters and articles depicting the bad character but the great value of the artist, helping to mediate the dispute. In the end the parties were able to agree that the action of the opera had to be moved from the royal court of France to a duchy of France or Italy, as well as a renaming of the characters. In the Italian version the Duke reigns over Mantova and belongs to the Gonzaga family: the Gonzaga had long been extinct by the mid-19th Century, and the Dukedom of Mantova did not exist anymore, so nobody could be offended. The scene in which the sovereign retires in Gilda’s bedroom would be deleted and the visit of the Duke to the Taverna (inn) was not intentional anymore, but provoked by a trick. The hunchback (originally Triboulet) became Rigoletto (from French rigolo = funny). The name of the work too was changed.

For the première, Verdi had Felice Varesi as Rigoletto, the young tenor Raffaele Mirate as the Duke, and Teresina Brambilla as Gilda (though Verdi would have preferred Teresa De Giuli Borsi). Teresina Brambilla was a well-known soprano coming from a family of singers and musicians; one of her nieces, Teresa Brambilla, was the wife of Amilcare Ponchielli.

The opening was a complete triumph, especially the scena drammatica, and the Duke’s cynical aria, “La donna è mobile”, was sung in the streets the next morning.

Remembering Japan

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

A Peaceful Journey To The Other Side

Japan Finds Story of Hope in Undertaker Who Offered Calm Amid Disaster

KAMAISHI, Japan – Amid the grief of finding her mother’s body at a makeshift morgue in this tsunami-ravaged city last March, Fumie Arai took comfort in a small but surprising discovery. Unlike the rest of the muddied body, her mother’s face had been carefully wiped clean.

Mrs. Arai did not know at the time, but the act was the work of a retired undertaker well-versed in the ancient Buddhist rituals of preparing the dead for cremation and burial. The undertaker, Atsushi Chiba, a father of five who cared for almost 1,000 bodies in Kamaishi, has now become an unlikely hero in a community trying to heal its wounds a year after the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged much of Japan’s northeastern coast a year ago Sunday.

“I dreaded finding my mother’s body, lying alone on the cold ground among strangers,” Mrs. Arai, 36, said. “When I saw her peaceful, clean face, I knew someone had taken care of her until I arrived. That saved me.”

An small act of kindness in the midst of chaos. Blessed Be

The Wheel Turns

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

 Japan remembers earthquake, tsunami with silence, rallies

 Year after 16,000 killed, country grapples with the human, economic and political toll news services

With a minute of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear rallies, Japan marked on Sunday the first anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a radiation crisis that shattered public trust in atomic power and the nation’s leaders.

A year after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake unleashed a wall of water that hit Japan’s northeast coast, killing nearly 16,000 and leaving nearly 3,300 unaccounted for, the country is still grappling with the human, economic and political costs.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Thousands of Chinese trafficking victims rescued by police

Sri Lanka: A child is summarily executed

Zuma’s next visit provokes political storm in Harare

Syria crisis: Annan to renew talks with Assad

Garzón’s quest for justice crosses a red line in Spain

Late Night Karaoke

Greece Succeeds In Averting Another Crisis

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Asia markets rose Friday morning after the news that Greece has reached a settlement with at least 90% of its bond holders:

The finance ministry said 85.8 percent of its 177 billion euros in bonds regulated under Greek law had been tendered, adding that the rate would reach 95.7 percent with the use of collective action clauses to enforce the deal on creditors who refused to take part voluntarily.

The result should clear the way for the European Union and International Monetary Fund to release a 130 billion euro bailout package agreed with Greece last month. [..]

The biggest sovereign debt restructuring in history will see bond holders accept losses of some 74 percent on the value of their investments in a deal that will cut more than 100 billion euros from Greece’s crippling public debt.

The unknown consequence of this agreement is that it may trigger the credit default swap (CDS) insurance that some investors hold on the bonds. Some economists don’t believe that this would be a problem:

Finance ministers from the 16 other countries that use the euro are to discuss the deal’s results in a conference call later Friday. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association said it would also meet to determine whether the deal would be deemed a so-called “credit event” – a technical default – which would trigger the payment of credit default swaps, which is essentially insurance against a default.

When the debt relief plan was first announced last year, eurozone leaders and the ECB worked hard to avoid a credit event, because they feared the a payout of CDS could destabilize big financial institutions that sold them.

However, since then a CDS payout has started to look less threatening. The ISDA, a private organization that decides on credit events, said that if they are triggered, overall payouts on CDS linked to Greece will be below $3.2 billion. That amount is spread over many financial firms and likely too small to significantly hurt any one of them.

However, the outlook for economic growth anytime soon is grim. The problems that have been inflicted on the average Greek citizen by the austerity measures of this deal still exist and it’s predicted, the situation for them will not be improving for years:

   It’s stunning here in Athens to see many traffic lights not working, to see beggars pawing through garbage for food, to see blackened ruins of shops burned in rioting. I was even greeted by a homeless man who spoke impeccable British-accented English.

   That man, Michael A. Kambouroglou, 35, claims that he studied English literature at Cambridge University and worked for years in the tourism industry, most recently at a five-star hotel. He told me that he had enjoyed a good life, visiting the United States and traveling around the world, until the day nearly a year ago when the collapsing economy caught up with him, and he was laid off.

   “To be honest, I never thought it could come to me,” he recalled. “It happened in a flash.” Kambouroglou says he goes out every morning, knocking on doors and looking for work, but in this economy it seems hopeless. The overall unemployment rate here is 21 percent – 48 percent among young people – and the European Union forecasts that the Greek economy (and all of the euro zone) will shrink further this year.

Without economic growth, the deal may only be buying a little time before it all goes back to square one. There are those who believe that this is just stalling the inevitable default and that the sooner Greece defaults the faster the pain for the Greek people will be relived:

Greece has defaulted five times since 1800, most recently in 1932.

Clearly, Greek’s own experiences reveal there is, indeed, life after default. So what’s the country waiting for?

Well, if its leaders are afraid a default won’t be tolerated in modern times, they need to consider the most recent examples set by Russia and Argentina…

In 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in local debt. Within two years, its economy was growing by double-digit rates. And it continued to do so for the better part of a decade under Vladimir Putin’s leadership.

In late 2001, Argentina defaulted on $95 billion in debt. Yet, by the end of 2002, its economy returned to growth. And it continued growing for eight straight years. [..]

Bottom line: As Howard Davies, a former U.K. central banker and financial regulator, says, “It’s too late for Greece [to avoid default].” So let’s pull off the Band-Aid already and get it over with.

It won’t be painless or even remotely enjoyable. But it’s necessary if Greece ever wants to get its financial house in order and its economy growing again.

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.

Kohlrabi: A Dinner Ally in Disguise

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

It’s a member of the brassica family, those nutrient-dense cabbages (as well as kales, brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower) whose phytochemicals are highly regarded for their antioxidant properties. Kohlrabi is an excellent source of potassium and a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and it’s low in calories. The purple variety that some farmers grow also contains anthocyanins, another phytonutrient with antioxidant potential.

If you can get kohlrabi with the greens attached, cook them as you would turnip greens or kale. The greens are never quite as copious as the greens on a bunch of turnips, but they make a nice addition to most kohlrabi dishes. It’s important when you cook with kohlrabi to peel it thoroughly. Beneath the thick, hard skin is another fibrous layer, which should also be peeled away. The fibers will not soften when cooked, and they can get stuck in your throat. So peel once, then peel again until you reach the light layer of crisp flesh.

Kohlrabi Home Fries

With the help of a little oil and some bold seasonings, these kohlrabi sticks deliver big flavor.

Kohlrabi and Celery Root Purée

This combination is lighter and more interesting than traditional buttery mashed potatoes, but it’s just as satisfying.

Greek-Style Kohlrabi Pie or Gratin With Dill and Feta

Using grated kohlrabi rather than spinach gives these two classic preparations a twist.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls With Shredded Kohlrabi

Prepared rice flour wrappers are a convenient vehicle for marinated tofu and crisp vegetables and herbs.

Kohlrabi Risotto

Risotto is a welcoming home for just about any vegetable, and this combination is a comforting one.