April 4, 2015 archive

2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament: Semifinals

Sunday’s Results-

Score Seed Team Record Score Seed Team Record Region
70 4 Louisville 26-9 76 7 * Michigan State 27-11 East
66 1 Duke 32-4 52 2 Gonzaga 34-6 South

Go Spartans!

Composed by Leonard Falcone.

Tonight’s Matchups-

Time Channel Seed Team Record Region Seed Team Record Region
6:00pm TBS 1 Duke 32-4 South 7 Michigan State 27-11 East
8:49pm TBS 1 Wisconsin 35-3 West 1 Kentucky 38-0 Mid-West

Tonight in addition to the national coverage we will have home team broadcasts using the commentators who cover the regular season games.  On TNT we will be seeing the crews that do Duke and Kentucky and on True the ones for Michigan State and Wisconsin.

I guess that tells you how the experts are calling it.

As for me I think State can definitely beat Duke who are not all that by any means.  Likewise I give Wisconsin at least an even chance against Kentucky who have proven with several scares that they’re not very special.

The NCAA didn’t pull the Final Four over Indiana’s bigoted RFRA but logistically they hardly could on just a week’s notice.  They are however talking about pulling their national headquarters out of Indianapolis which would be a good thing for its own sake, not just as a protest.

On This Day In History April 4

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 4 is the 94th day of the year (95th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 271 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1949,the NATO pact signed

The United States and 11 other nations establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a mutual defense pact aimed at containing possible Soviet aggression against Western Europe. NATO stood as the main U.S.-led military alliance against the Soviet Union throughout the duration of the Cold War.

Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union began to deteriorate rapidly in 1948. There were heated disagreements over the postwar status of Germany, with the Americans insisting on German recovery and eventual rearmament and the Soviets steadfastly opposing such actions. In June 1948, the Soviets blocked all ground travel to the American occupation zone in West Berlin, and only a massive U.S. airlift of food and other necessities sustained the population of the zone until the Soviets relented and lifted the blockade in May 1949. In January 1949, President Harry S. Truman warned in his State of the Union Address that the forces of democracy and communism were locked in a dangerous struggle, and he called for a defensive alliance of nations in the North Atlantic-U.S military in Korea.NATO was the result. In April 1949, representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal joined the United States in signing the NATO agreement. The signatories agreed, “An armed attack against one or more of them… shall be considered an attack against them all.” President Truman welcomed the organization as “a shield against aggression.”

The Breakfast Club (Peter Cottontail)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThere’s only one time of year when a performance of Handel’s Messiah is chronologically correct and that is Easter.

Oh sure, the First Act deals with the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the annunciation of the shepherds, but it’s only one of three.  The bulk of them are about his passion and death, his resurrection, and his ascension (Act II); and redemption, the Day of Judgement, general resurrection, and the ultimate triumph over sin and death and the universal acclamation of Christ (Act III).

As a matter of fact that famous Hallelujah Chorus, the only part anyone bothers with generally?  Act II Finale.

Sorry to ruin your holiday season folks.

While I’m sure Handel would be gratified by the events that mostly consist of gathering the largest group possible to unmusically caterwaul a tricky piece to do well and one that almost nobody knows the right words to as a testament to his enduring popularity, I suspect that he would agree with me that they are best listened to buried among the mass of performers under the influence of an appropriate amount of ek’smas cheer.

The original work is rather modestly scored for a small orchestra and choir with soloists, to be performed in a hall of medium size.  The fashion for large scale performances didn’t start until 1784, 42 years after the debut.  It has always commonly been performed for charitable benefits.

Another interesting feature of this piece is that it’s an archetype of Oratorio structure.  Handel made his mark on the English musical scene as a composer of Italian Operas which were very popular from 1711 until about 1730.  He wrote over 40 of them.  He amassed a small fortune but was increasingly dependent on wealthy patrons to stage his oratorios, anthems and organ concertos.  One particular sponsor was Charles Jennens who is generally credited with the libretto, which is in English.  Handel wrote the music in 24 days.

Now this is not unusual for an Opera and that’s basically what an Oratorio is.  The 3 Act structure is exactly the same as the Italian Operas Handel was used to composing and the only distinguishing features are that there are no costumes, there is no acting, and the sacred nature of the subject.  Handel had composed similar Oratorios when Opera was temporarily banned in Italy (counter-Reformation Fundamentalism).

Anyway, without further adieu the Messiah, all 2 hours and 38 minutes of it.

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Late Night Karaoke

A Short Total Eclipse of the Moon

If you’re up early enough, about an hour before sunrise, you might want to look to the sky.

Shortest Lunar Eclipse of the Century

On Saturday morning, April 4, 2015 not long before sunrise, the bright full moon over North America should turn a lovely shade of celestial red during a total lunar eclipse.

The lunar eclipse will be visible from all parts of the United States.  Eastern North America and western South America can see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise April 4, whereas middle Asia (India, western China, mid-Asian Russia) can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset April 4. Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Africa and the Middle East won’t see this eclipse at all. A world map of eclipse visibility is available here. The total eclipse will last only five minutes.

This eclipse marks the third in a series of four lunar eclipses in a row, known as a “tetrad.”  The first in the series occurred on April 15, 2014, with the second in the tetrad of eclipses in September of 2014, and the final will be September 28, 2015.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will provide a livestream.

Timeline of eclipse on April 4

Lunar Eclipse, April 4, 2015 Eastern Daylight Time, *a.m.)

Partial eclipse begins 6:16 EDT

Totality begins 7:58 EDT

Greatest eclipse 8:00 EDT

Totality ends 8:03 EDT

Partial eclipse ends 9:45 EDT

Because the the moon can look red during an eclipse, it is sometimes called a “Blood Moon.” The April full moon is often called the “Pink Moon”:

The wild ground phlox is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this moon were the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon and – among coastal tribes – the Full Fish Moon, when the shad came upstream to spawn.

Random Japan

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Robotic dancing troupe World Order kicks off the new baseball season with seven-man pitch

KK Miller

Springtime means one thing for sports fans: baseball! While Major League Baseball is still toiling away in spring training and pre-season games, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league has already kicked off their season with the first games occurring at the end of March.

Since spring signals the time for new beginnings, what is more precious than the beginning of the first home game of the year? And with it brings the first opening pitch of the season. For the 2013 Japan Series winners, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, they asked Genki Sudo and his group World Order to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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.

A Colorful Passover Seder

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Time

The Passover meal is one of the most meaningful gatherings in Judaism, symbolizing the Jews’ flight from slavery in Egypt. As the cookbook author Joan Nathan writes, the annual event gives her “chills, knowing that I’m following what was written in the Bible more than 2,500 years ago.” [..]

But thousands of years of tradition doesn’t mean you can’t still find moments of creativity and color in your Passover meal. We have collected some of our favorite Martha Rose Shulman recipes to help you set a delicious and meaningful Passover table.

~ Tara Parker-Pope ~

Egg Lemon Soup with Matzos

No schmaltz is needed for this comforting Greek-style soup – the matzos are crumbled right into the broth.

Bitter Herbs Salad

Endive, romaine and chicory are present on many Sephardic ritual platters, but here these pungent greens form the basis for a salad with a garlicky dressing.

Braised Greek Artichoke Bottoms with Lemon and Olive Oil

These brightly flavored artichokes, served cold or at room temperature, can be made a day ahead of time.

Sweet Potato and Apple Kugel

I’ve looked at a number of sweet potato kugel recipes, and experimented with this one a few times until I was satisfied with it.

Broccoli, Quinoa and Purslane Salad

Slice the raw broccoli very thin for this delicious salad. If you can’t find purslane you can substitute mâche.

Reply from an elder

On this, my 67th birthday, I found a tear wrenching letter to transgender old people at the Advocate.

Now the letter was not so much aimed at me personally. I did not transition in my 60s.  I transitioned 2/3 of my life ago, at the age of 44.  That was enough of a problem in itself.

How did you do it? How did you keep yourself going all those decades in the wrong gender?  You must be the toughest person alive.

–Marlo Mack

Marlo, there just a wasn’t a lot of choice.  Survival is a strong motivation.