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The Middle East under a new Saudi king

There will unquestionably be some policy changes under a new king of Saudi Arabia, but the most importance policies of that nation under King Salman, affecting oil prices and ISIS, won’t change. Succession planning in Saudi Arabia, at least in recent years, has worked like this: when the king is…

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Music Post: The Bach 3-Part Inventions

Since “Switched-On Bach” and the Swingle Singers in the early 1960s, lovers of classical music (and especially of altered classical music: synthesized, or scat-sung) have known that Bach wrote pieces calledĀ Inventions, there are several of them, and they’re good. Actually, however, in Bach’s day – mainly the first half of…

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Music Post: Ward Swingle (1927-2015)

In my family’s home there were many records, but most of the music of my childhood was jazz. It took Ward Swingle and the Swingle Singer to kindle my interest in classical music. Classical music in my childhood was confined to “The Nutcracker,” “Gaite Parisienne,” the first movement of Beethoven’s…

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A new day at the Hawaii Legislature

There is no shortage of issues this year at the Hawaii Legislature: the counties would like a bigger share of the transient accommodations tax, Oahu wants to renew its excise tax surcharge for rail, and the 13 state-owned hospitals want hundreds of millions of dollars to cover their deficits. The…

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Surreal economic talk in Washington

As Democrats and Republicans alike increasingly live in echo chambers that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs right or wrong, partisans on both sides are devolving into cheerleaders for inaccurate views of the economy. President Obama says the economy has turned the corner and describes this improvement like he did it, while…

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Music Post: Modernizing the classics

When I was a teenager my public library lent LPs as well as books and I was able to explore all kinds of music without paying for it simply by walking a mile up the road to the library next to the Presbyterian church. Having grown up on my dad’s…

Haneda

Does Hawaiian have a shot at a second Haneda slot?

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week that it had reconsidered, as Delta Air Lines requested, its intention to review U.S. airline slots at Tokyo Haneda airport, but had decided to proceed with a review that could lead to the reassignment of Delta’s second slot there. Let’s begin by…

dayoffcartoon

Music Post: Out of the opera, into the concert hall

Even people who love classical music don’t always love opera. Some people blame all that singing in foreign languages, but I’m more inclined to blame the unnatural sound of opera singing, thrown into ever-greater contrast by the singing styles of more popular music. For me the excessive use of vibrato…

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New math in the new Congress

John Boehner, R-Ohio, has been re-elected speaker of the House. Only 25 Republicans failed to vote for him (and one of them voted “present”) but that was about double the opposition as last time. After re-election, Boehner moved quickly to clip some wings. He bumped two of the no-voters off…

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Music Post: Neoclassical music of the Roaring Twenties and beyond

Some decades are just more interesting than others. And few were more interesting than the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition, intended to curb domestic violence, created a new criminal subclass, and an age of licentious behavior not seen again until the Sixties. New York City alone had more than 30,000 speakeasies by…