The sun has been shining almost non-stop and the buds and blossoms are multiplying each day. The cherry tree at Lee Park came out full-fledge two days ago, and it looks even brighter than normal. I trimmed our two large bushes a couple of times and they're just about ready to push out the green.
I've been listening a lot to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and I am finding it to be the perfect soothing music for rocking and holding. I like the way that the melodies are simple. I also like the way Vivaldi modulates the key of the themes to give a slightly different emotion as the tunes run their course, interspersed with the flickering violin parts.
The piece is composed of four concertos, each of which has three parts. The most famous one (the melody you recognize immediately) is Spring, and its full title is Concerto No. 1 in E Major. They were composed in 1723.
Some of the news stories these past couple of weeks:
- The health care reform bill passed, on Sunday afternoon after about four days of frantic vote-counting by the Democrats and the media. In the end the bill got 219 votes in the House (it needed 216 for passage), and the key was the Stupak bloc acquiescing after President Obama agreed to issue an executive order prohibiting federal funding for abortion. According to Timothy Noah at Slate, the order means nothing as a legal matter and was merely a way for Stupak to save face. Speaking of Noah, he gets my personal award for having done the most substantive analysis of the health care bill during the course of the past year.
- The relationship between Israel and the US has been much in the news . Joe Biden was in Israel and, just after he reiterated the special nature of the US/Israel relationship, the government there announced that they will continue to fund and build settlements in parts of Jerusalem and other places where -- as I understand it -- the moratorium was supposed to have applied. Netenyahu was in the United States this past week and there's a lot of debate about whether -- and/or how much -- we should be pushing back on the new Israeli policy; Thomas Friedman wrote a piece where he argued that the US should put its foot down and demand better behavior from the Israeli government.
- There's yet another Catholic Church child abuse scandal, this one focused in Europe (in particular, Ireland and Germany). Evidently Pope Benedict turned a blind eye to some abuse allegations (while he was either a bishop or cardinal, I'm not sure), and he is taking some pretty heated criticism.
- It's unclear whether the Obama Administration will turn now to immigration or energy policy as it's next big legislative effort. I've got to think they will hold off on energy (cap and trade) for at least a year, while the dust settles on health care reform.
- In Charlottesville, the City Council announced that the City Attorney will meet with the Meadowcreek Parkway plaintiffs to discuss timing and mechanics of the suit vis a vis the federal environmental review and the City's work on their portion of the project. Tim Hulbert and the Chamber of Commerce are not at all pleased: they accuse Dave Norris of using this meeting/coordination as a stall tactic -- an underhanded way to further delay the project. My sense is we've got a couple years, at least, before the next set of developments (this project moves according to years, not months); I'll be particularly interested to see how Kristin Szakos voices her stance on the Parkway, and how her stance (as the potential tiebreaker, if additional votes are required at any point) might affect Council's decisions. At this point Szakos is deferring to the prior Council's votes, but eventually mightn't there be additional votes?
- The NCAA tourney is in full swing, and after a couple of years in which it seemed that all the top seeds advanced, the underdogs have come roaring back: Northern Iowa, Cornell, and Saint Mary's in particular. Wilbon is so excited about the return of the "smalls" I'm afraid he might pee himself (I've got pee on the mind). I would especially love to see Cornell beat Kentucky in one of tonight's Sweet Sixteen games.
- I am listening to Anne Tyler's new book, Noah's Compass, on my Ipod. The main character Liam is obsessed with memories and the mechanics of remembering, which makes for some interesting reflections/lines, but the plot is pretty slow-developing (similar to Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake in that sense).