97 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

The nature of reading

Reading V engaged in her book / Feb. 2010

"Reading has become one of the hottest subjects in the humanities, perhaps because it seems especially intriguing now that so much of it has shifted from the printed page to the computer screen."

~ Robert Darnton, Director of the Harvard University Library


Haiku to the onion grass

Mosaic_mandalaA little piece of earth (full of onion grass tufts) and mosaic mandala / April 2010

This was the day of the celebration of the Earth Day and the still-vivid-remembrance-after-40-years of the bright green-and-white striped Ecology flag sticker that they handed out in school and thinking, even as a young kid, that taking care of the earth was a good idea.

Earth Day Haiku:

It said onion grass
tasty, like scallions or chives
I can't eat my lawn


Thank you Alan Grayson

SittinginthesnowOur healthcare system is like that old rusty couch sittin' by the side of the road / Feb. 2010

“The government spent billions of dollars creating a Medicare network of providers that is only open to one-eighth of the population. That’s like saying, ‘Only people 65 and over can use federal highways.’ It is a waste of a very valuable resource and it is not fair. This idea is simple, it makes sense, and it deserves an up-or-down vote.”

~ Congressman Alan Grayson

Today Congressman Alan Grayson introduced the Public Option Act, that would allow all Americans to buy into Medicare at cost. The bill is 4 pages long and lets any American choose an unsubsidized Medicare option over private insurance. The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish enrollment periods, coverage guidelines, and premiums. Because premiums would be equal to cost, the program would pay for itself.


Pirate stronghold and imperial city

Rabat Paulo arrived with a cardboard box of treasures from another time and place. When I saw the color and pattern of the ceramic (it took a minute to register that it was an ashtray; oh how times have changed), I thought Morocco! Spelled out along the rim of the tray were the words "Hotel" "Rabat" "Tour-Hassan" / presumably abducted from Rabat, once known as a pirate stronghold and an imperial city, now the capital of Morocco / Jan. 2010

The newscast says that they've reached a compromise on taxing health care plans and that an individual paying $8,500 a year has a “gold-plated” health insurance policy. Excuse me? Since when is there a correlation between what health insurance costs and the benefits that you get? Not in any of the plans that are available to me. I am only $868 away from that number — and I'll probably be there next year. OK. I just read a story about this at the NYTimes. It mentions “employer-sponsored” insurance plans. Does that mean it doesn't include me since I pay for it all myself? Just like everything else in this health care bill nothing is clear and: “Congressional leaders have been careful to stress that nothing is agreed on in the health care talks until everything is agreed on.” Great. Maybe I should take up smoking and imagine myself sitting under the Moorish arches and tile work on the patio cafe at the La Tour Hassan Hotel. Perhaps that will calm my nerves?


$636.99

Ransomnote Am I obsessing? Yes I am. I'm so angry that I don't know what else to do / New Jersey / Dec. 2009

$636.99*

This is my new monthly health insurance premium rate for an HMO with a $30 co-pay. Twice before the rate has gone over $600 and I've been able to get it down by switching plans. This time it looks like there is no place left to go. Oh, wait, there is the plan that my insurance company is trying to hard-sell me. The one they advertised on their web site as "one step up from being uninsured" (this after the thousands of dollars I've paid them over the past 15 years). The one that cuts off payments to doctors after $700 (maybe Senator Lieberman would be interested in that plan). Thanks for that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield. Thanks a lot.

* It would have been $690.33, but, by law, the company is not allowed to raise the premium for renewals by more than 15% in a single year.


A colorless world

Ignoranceandarrogance Fenced in by so-called "health-care providers" and abandoned by the people elected and entrusted with our care / New Jersey / Oct. 2009

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”

~ Mark Twain


“To succeed in not passing a real health-care bill, you need two things: ignorance and arrogance.”

~ Me (after a go-round with my so-called health-care provider about my new, higher 2010 premium rate that raised my blood pressure, had me screaming and cursing at their automated answering system, and reduced me to tears)


As if there were no sky

Tangledtrees Dear so-called leaders, please dispense with secret talks and granting favors to people who give you money and preening in front of tv cameras and false righteousness and arrogantly proclaiming that you know exactly what every american wants and just do the right thing — give us a decent health care bill; please; we're counting on you; please; we're begging you; please; we're getting desperate; please, please, please / at the Delaware River whipped by winds of change; NJ / January 2009

“ . . . what are your intentions,
you, so called leaders
of mankind, what is hidden in your whispers behind dark glasses,
what is the meaning of your silence
of your loquacity, of your continuous meetings
and secret talks, pilgrims knock in vain
on other doors, artists connect in vain arches
of palaces rising from new foundations, in vain children write
slogans on the walls, in vain are the discoveries in megaphones
in vain the sacrificing of women kind, in vain
parades and volleys, volleys as greetings, volleys
as warnings, volleys for punishment, too many
bans, too many orders, as if there were
no sky, as if there were no man.”

~ an excerpt from “History” (Zgodovina) by Slovenian poet Edvard Kocbek


An area of vorticity

Undulatingbrickwall

Curling, spinning brick wall as if hit by a Nor'easter / Charlottesville, VA / Oct. 2005

“ ... the things you can't remember tell the things you can't forget ... ”

This line has been swirling through my head for the past few weeks. A function, I think, of age, life and all the nor'easters that have hit New Jersey this fall. The nor'easter winds circle back and blow the leaves in endless circles, around and around. In my head, the things I can't remember spin with the things I can't forget. The line is from Tom Waits' haunting song, Time. Over and over, I hear Waits' rich, gravelly voice and the song's mournful melody. It has such wonderful imagery: “the wind is making speeches,” “it's raining hammers, it's raining nails,”  “Mathilda asks the sailors 'Are those dreams or are those prayers?'” Guess I'll have to wait for my storm to pass; for the vorticity to slow. ... so put a candle in the window and a kiss upon my lips ...

* Nor'easters are usually formed by an area of vorticity associated with an upper-level disturbance or from a kink in a frontal surface that causes a surface low pressure area (“vorticity” is the tendency for elements to curl or spin).


Emotion in the air

The_hip-hop_wall Concrete art / Croatia / May. 2005

Let the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall remind us that walls are not the way to solve political problems in this world. Over time the final (and 4th) version of the Berlin wall (made of prefabricated concrete slabs) became a canvas for colorful and graphic graffiti art. When the wall came down, the decorated pieces were dispersed around the world (see the list and some examples here). Berlin Wall Art displays a record of “the social, political, and artistic expressions of the wall surrounding the city of West Berlin.”

“The paintings on the Berlin wall always had an exceptional touch. It was always one extra emotion in the air which transformed every wall painting into a strong political act.” — wall artist Thierry Noir