Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse

Last night was no ordinary lunar eclipse. The timing of this lunar eclipse was important because it was in September, when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit. This caused the moon to appear bigger. The color of the moon was also unusual. It appeared red, mainly because of wildfires in California have grown so big their smoke has dissipated into the atmosphere all over the world. This caused light distortion and interference and the red and even bloody.

A lunar eclipse like this is not predicted to happen again for another thirty years. While the eclipse could be seen from all over the globe, the best places to see it was in parts of North America, South America, and Western Africa. A Lunar eclipse happens when the moon falls into the shadow of the earth; a total Lunar eclipse happens when the moon falls into the Earth's Umbra, or its darkest shadow. Lunar Eclipses don't happen very often because the moon revolves around the earth on a different plane than the Earth. If the moon orbited the Earth on the same plane as the Earth, we would have eclipses every month. Although humans have been enjoying the sight Lunar eclipses for some time now, a day will come when they will stop. This will happen because gravitational forces are drawing the moon farther and farther away from us each year (about one inch every year). Once the moon is far enough away, it will be too small and too far off to fit into our Umbra, or to block out the sun. If you didn't get out to see the eclipse, there are plenty of photos online, although nothing can capture the feeling of the live experience.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Uncomfortable Environments

Just a few days ago I went in for a prescreening
to audition for one of twelve spots at our school for IMEA (Illinois Music Educators Association). The chosen students would get to audition at the district level. I had been preparing for the prescreening for weeks in advance, but for some reason, my audition was slow and out of tempo. I couldn't quite perform my best with the eyes of my instructor bearing down on me. However, I feel that although I underperformed during the audition, I have gone through a valuable experience. Throwing myself into an uncomfortable situation, like the prescreening, is never easy. But it is something that everyone will find themselves doing frequently in the real world. The more a person exposes themselves  to these situations, the better they will find themselves preforming. Luckily for me I passed the prescreening and get to go down and audition at the district level. regardless of how I do, however, I welcome the opportunity to showcase my talent and try to overcome an uncomfortable situation and perform my best.

But these auditions are not just good experiences for other high school auditions. I believe they will help me down the road. If I choose to peruse music in my future, I might have to perform at a plethora of auditions for collage music programs. But instead of being stressed and worried about them, I plan on feeling confidant about every single one of my auditions. The only way I can do this is to expose myself to similar situations while I am still in high school. On the other hand, just because you are not a musician, doesn't mean you can't
benefit from the same idea. Take job interviews for example. Joining an improv group, or making yourself stand and deliver a speech in front of a small group of friends are both good ideas in training yourself to speak and feel comfortable in front of others in important situations. This can help you show the real you at your next job interview. Although putting yourself into these situations in the first place can feel uncomfortable, I would encourage anyone to continue doing so. Eventually, with practice, comes competence, and you will reap the rewards.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Just or Unjust?

In Louise Erdrich's novel The Round House, Joe is driven to commit murder on behalf of his mother, who is raped by a savvy man from off the reservation. Joe hunts down the assailant, who he finds to be Linden Lark. After stalking Linden though his sister Linda, he guns him down on the golf course with the help of his friend Cappy (Erdrich, 282). I see Joe operating on the principle that because some one harmed his mother, and meant to kill her, he has to bring the assailant to justice by killing him. Of coarse, this is after the law failed to prosecute Linden. Although it is admirable that Joe loves his mother with such passion, killing Linden Lark is neither just, nor a definite solution.

Killing any person is fundamentally wrong. If someone tries to kill you, turning around and trying to kill them back leaves you no better off than the other person. Justice is not how many wrong doers you can knock off, but as The Merraim-Webster Dictionary defines it, "the administration of law; especially :  the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity." Although some societies may argue that murder is a fair punishment for wrong doers, I believe it is rather barbaric. Murdering Linden is an extreme solution that benefits how Joe feels about his mother's attack, rather than how Linen should be held accountable for the murder. Besides being unjust, it also is not a definite solution. Joe's form of thinking is somewhat like the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth principle first documented in The Code of Hammurabi. The only problem with this form of justice is that if everyone went by it, we would all be walking around blind and toothless. Instead, Joe should realize that killing Linden only escalates the circle of violence. He should seek justice another way, and try to form a better future, rather than holding on to the past.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Migrant Crisis

A boat is packed with migrants in the Mediterranean, fleeing to Europe.

The European Union has just announced quotas for the recent influx of migrants coming from war torn countries like Syria, and Afghanistan. Read more about the ongoing crisis here. The refugees have been seeking asylum in some of the more wealthy countries in Europe, like Germany and France. The quotas show how many asylum seekers the countries are willing to take in. But Germany predicts that it alone this year is expecting around 800,000 refugees. I think the European countries should do their best to take in as many of the refugees as they can, but if 800,000 people keep pouring into Germany every year who need food, and shelter, Germany will not be able to integrate them and eventually this mass migration could cause greater problems. Eventually they will have to stop taking people in. 

However, there are some positive things that countries like Germany may have to gain from the refugees. Germany's birth rate is at about zero. People in Germany, and in other countries in europe are no longer having as many babies as they used to. These migrants could help repopulate the country. But this raises the question of whether or not they will assimilate to German culture, or end up in ghettoes like those in France (read more about the muslim situation in France here). If they don't assimilate to German culture, they could possibly be creating an underclass that could cause trouble for the countries that have taken them in to fill out their populations. Hopefully, when countries are "taking in" more refugees, they are actually bringing them into their societies and culture in order to create new and enriched lives for them, and their country. But this could also be a recipe for disaster. In conclusion I would hope that European countries continue to bring in asylum seekers, but do so with caution and much planning. Finally, these people are coming here because of the chaos in their homelands. This shows how devastating some of the unexpected consequences are from wars abroad.