Tuesday, November 26, 2013

first movements

i usually can’t even remember a fraction of a refrain.
those first few notes are warming. and i think, “oh, yes. exactly. this is exactly it.” and the rest of the music is memory after memory as the progression folds out before me, as each modulation of the melody returns to me.
don’t let me pretend i really know anything about the history of music, but i’ve had a very long love affair with tchaikovsky’s first violin concerto in d. at sixteen i listened to the first movement every afternoon. after having come home from school, i watched the sun set in the west from my bedroom window and i listened to tchaikovsky.
even if you can only remember a few bars from swan lake, you know tchaikovsky can be dramatic. sentimental and sweet then suddenly tragic. this concerto swings back and forth, walking a fine line between each. the reach of the sweetest arpeggio suddenly turns into a minor chord, a saddest underscoring it all. petite violin solos puff and swell into the full-throated rejoinder of an orchestra.
maybe that’s why i liked it as a teenager: i liked how dramatic it was. i liked how the darker side of the melody could match my melancholy and then suddenly stand at odds with my mood all together. i liked that the loneliness i felt in that music, undertones of sadness despite the plucky phrases that supported the composition. i liked loosing myself in thought, sitting on a stool by the the window, the sun setting in line with my bedroom window. i liked thinking about myself listening to this music every afternoon; i liked building this image and ritual for myself.
now, this music functions on a different level for me. the concerto is precious to me. when i hear it again, not only does the long walk through the movement’s architecture map itself in front of me, but all these teenage emotions and memories compound themselves up, turrets and walls and great halls and hidden passages. i recognize the melodrama of the composition now. more mature, my relationship to the emotion of the movement has changed. i can take a step back from its swelling emotion, its bipolar shifts. i can think about it more objectively.
lovely, i can leave this for a while, then come back for its key, press play, and let the music construct again my memory.

Monday, November 11, 2013

iran access

here's a beautiful little graphic from the new york times that shows iran's current nuclear capacity as well as presenting some ideas as to what an agreement concerning iran's nuclear program could look like.

iran has quickly agreed to allow the iaea access to some of the nuclear processing sites that had been previously mostly inaccessible.  but let's remember: they still are not allowing anyone access to the contentious parchin site, where it is suspected "that Iran has been testing triggering devices for nuclear weapons."

Friday, November 8, 2013

friends and enemies

diplomatic relations change. where for decades the u.s. brushed aside the communist party of china and provided all our support to the kuomingtang and taiwan, friendlier relations with the people’s republic became an eventuality. russia and the u.s. are frienemies, for lack of a better word, allies at each other’s throats. and we’re slowly warming to cuba. slowly.
but diplomatic relations don’t change quickly and iran’s sudden smile does not seem completely genuine.
while new attempts to reach out to western europe and the u.s. from the newly elected iranian president hassan rouhani could be genuine, the sudden supportiveness of the supreme religious leader of iran, the grand ayatollah khamenei, seems suspect. this man has vehemently denounced the united states and squashed any iranian support for negotiations with western countries. turning on a dime the ayatollah now supports the rouhani effort to work with the united states.
the burgeoning possible diplomatic relations with iran could indicate two developments: the economic pressure put upon iran has either convinced its leaders to work with western europe and the united states to regulate and survey and suspend its nuclear development or the iranians realize that with a little bit of a sugar and a lot more stalling they can complete their goals and lift the economic squeeze on its population.
Iran has achieved the ability to enrich uranium up to 20 percent purity, and it is then relatively easy to increase enrichment to 90 percent.”
though i think the world should be cautious in its trust of the iranian supreme leader, what else can we do but embrace diplomacy and flexibility? the international community must come to completely embrace non-proliferation and demand that every community follow suit. at the same time we must show compassion for every population and patience in brokering agreements with the leaders protecting these populations.
if iran is reaching out to us now, what can we do but cautiously resume negotiations and hope we do not get burned?

Friday, November 1, 2013

understanding obamacare

i’ve come to believe that a lot us, including myself, may not understand the nitty gritty of the affordable care act. we’re scared of change. we don’t know what obamacare is going to do to us. we want to keep our health insurance the way it is. and for those of us without insurance, the price of coverage still seems too expensive.
also, what does up to 400% of the poverty level mean? ‘cause i’d always like to make more money, but i still don’t think i’m living anywhere near that.
to help us all understand why our existing insurance policies are changes, our rates may increase a little in the short run, and what exactly obamacare will do for you and me and every average american, i’ve started collecting a few links from the new york times for your perusal:
here we discover why some people (though only a small fraction of those americans with plans) might see their rates increase. bottomline: your plan wasn’t doing enough for you before. for preventative medicine to provide economic savings in our health system, everyone has to have access to preventative medicine.
a lot of the people who have to choose news plans or whose plans will change will be those people who do not have insurance through their employers. most of these plans and rates reflected the sex, age, and pre-existing conditions of the insured and insurance companies are no longer allowed to take any of this into consideration when issuing coverage. you’ll also find a very simple q & a about health insurance costs and benefits.
finally, there is this nifty little calculator provided by the kaiser family foundation for estimating the subsidy you may be eligible for through obamacare. enter in the state you live in, your zip code, your income, and the number of dependents you have. voila! the calculator will give you an estimate for how much your yearly premium should be, the subsidy you would receive, and what that means you would subsequently pay. for example, a person with an income of about $25,000 in birmingham, alabama, will probably pay about $144 a month.
and remember: “You can have the government pay the insurer directly or receive a credit when you file your taxes.”