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The Cure for America
)NSIDE 3UMMER SOCCER AND THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE
09.10.09 vol. xli, no. 2 The Indy takes its medicine.
independent THE HARVARD
President Diana Suen ‘11 Cover art by PATRICIA FLORESCU
Forum 3 Fraternity Sister 4 Summer in the Tropics 5 Asian Invisibility
Special 6-7 Health Care Debate 8 Obama's Speech Quotes of Note Health Care by the Numbers
Arts 9 Beauty at the End of Life Kandinsky Comes to NYC 10 Summer On Stage and Film
Sports 11 FC Barcelona For exclusive online content, visit www.harvardindependent.com
Editor-in-Chief Sam Jack ‘11
Production Manager Faith Zhang ‘11 Publisher Brian Shen ‘11
News Editor Forum Editor Arts Editor Sports Editor Design Editor Graphics Editor Associate Forum Editor Associate Graphics Editor
Susan Zhu ‘11 Riva Riley ‘12 Pelin Kivrak ‘11 Hao Meng ‘11 Patricia Florescu ‘11 Candice Smith ‘11 Lynn Yi ‘12 Sonia Coman ‘11
Staff Writers Peter Bacon ‘11 John Beatty '11 Rachael Becker '11 Ezgi Bereketli ‘12 Andrew Coffman ‘12 Truc Doan ‘10 Levi Dudte '11 Ray Duer ‘11 Nick Nehamas ‘11 Jim Shirey ‘11 Steven Rizoli '11 Graphics, Photography, and Design Staff Eva Liou ‘11 Caitlin Marquis ‘10 Lidiya Petrova ‘11 Kristina Yee ‘10
As Harvard College's weekly undergraduate newsmagazine, the Harvard Independent provides in-depth, critical coverage of issues and events of interest to the Harvard College community. The Independent has no political affiliation, instead offering diverse commentary on news, arts, sports, and student life. For publication information and general inquiries, contact President Diana Suen (email@example.com). Letters to the Editor and comments regarding the content of the publication should be addressed to Editor-in-Chief Sam Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org). Yearly mail subscriptions are available for $30, and semester-long subscriptions are available for $15. To purchase a subscription, email email@example.com. The Harvard Independent is published weekly during the academic year, except during vacations, by The Harvard Independent, Inc., P.O. Box 382204, Cambridge, MA 02238-2204. Copyright © 2008 by The Harvard Independent. All rights reserved.
09.10.09 s The Harvard Independent
the Greek Life By A. CHATTOPADHYAY
My summer with the guys down the river.
MAY. I HAD DECIDED LATE in the game to remain on campus to be my grad student’s slave all summer, and one obstacle remained: housing seemed beyond my reach. I scrambled to navigate the convoluted inner trappings of funding, but I quickly realized that all housing on campus within my budget had filled up. As I contemplated either joining some Rastafarian commune in Central Square (dreads make me look, well, ugly) or crashing on an endless string of futons owned by friends in PRISE, I met a friend at MIT who was also staying in Cambridge over the summer. She was living in a frat at MIT, which for privacy reasons will be called Delta Delta. Delta Delta allows girls to occupy rooms over the summer, and I jumped at the chance to live with my friend and avoid the more expensive options closer to Harvard. “Are you sure?” she asked me. “Umm, you don’t really do well with messy and loud, do you?” “Nonsense,” I remember foolishly protesting. “I am totally cool with whatever, you know me.” After I convinced her I was up to the challenge, she started to explain logistics like food, rent, cleaning duties, etc, but I must admit I was too preoccupied by my visions of young shirtless Adonises to pay too much attention. Reality was much more, simply put, interesting. The time I spent at Delta Delta was simultaneously harrowing, confusing, unhygienic, disturbing, hilarious, and yes, despite the aforementioned, at times fun. Here I recount observations of frat guys in their natural habitat and provide tips on how to acclimate to the Greek life: Y TROUBLE STARTED LAST
Step 1: Survey the Lay of the Land There are several rooms that all frat houses share, regardless of whether they exist for academic, religious, athletic, racial, political, culinary, or theatrical types. Behold a rundown of these rooms and their functions: Library: Usually a large, spacious room with beautiful dark wood paneling. Comfy couches line the walls. While occasionally used for quiet studying, the library provides ample space (though little privacy) for hooking up. Bathrooms: Filthy except for on clean-up day. The showers are prime hookup real estate. Kitchen: Piled high with dishes used two months ago (with a standard deviation of around three weeks), the kitchen is still, shockingly, a very popular hook up spot. Gameroom: Room in the basement stocked with bar, plasma TV, and Beirut table. Time spent here is usually a prelude to hooking up. Pantry: This is usually where the mice that live in the walls hook up. Roof, hallways, any private, semi-private, or public place: You get the picture. Step 2: Relax Your Standards of Hygiene Living at Delta Delta was like returning to a much simpler time, one where you were at one with the wild. Think Hobbes’ state of nature. The wilderness that I refer to includes, but is not limited to: mice, rats, cockroaches, flies, fruit flies, and, to my surprise, lobsters, all attracted by the plethora of half-eaten food. If there was one kernel of pure truth I could cull from this summer, it would be this: men are pigs. Because everyone refused to take out the trash in the bathrooms, The Harvard Independent s 09.10.09
I would often spend my mornings brushing my teeth and straightening my hair next to a cloud of fruit flies. Hot. I put this Post-it note on the bathroom mirror, a gentle, humorous, and ultimately futile attempt to allay this condition: Characteristics of Men Who Get All the Ladies 1. They put the toilet seat down. 2. They don’t throw food (garlic?! seriously?!) in the bathroom trash cans. 3. They remove dubious hairs from the drain after showering.
André, only to hear its vengeful mate squeal minutes later Hurled a sticky mouse trap against the wall in sheer frustration Lain awake at night listening to them rustling in the trash can, curled in the center of my bed, praying that a mouse wouldn’t jump in with me By the end of the summer, though, I think that the mice and I had come to an understanding. I would turn the other way when they ate my food, and they would come out only when I was asleep. When the occasional mice crossed my path, I came to the point where I would just say, “Yo, what up,” and go on with my business.
The response, on an index card affixed to the mirror: Characteristics of Women Who Get Beaten by their Husbands 1. They don’t put the toilet seat up. 2. They bitch needlessly at the gender that buys them their dinners, movies, cars, houses, aprons, and Post-it notes. This is nothing, however, compared to my epic battle against mice. Mice populate the walls, the holes, the inner nooks and crannies of old buildings like Delta Delta. And, more often than not, they are audacious enough to venture out into the open in broad daylight. Let’s just say I have: Eaten almonds that mice have previously nibbled on (and called my mom, crying that I had the Plague) Celebrated the death of a mouse by opening some
Step 3: Master the Lingo It is a true fact that whenever you gather a critical mass of college guys, Brospeak emerges. Brospeak, sometimes also referred to as Brobonics, is primarily concerned with alcohol, attracting/mating with women, and, well, that’s pretty much it. I was also introduced to cornerstones of Broism: The Game and The Guide to Getting it On. Much of Brospeak is too risqué to print, but here I include some tamer selections: Brosky: affectionate name for frat brother; variations include bro-ster, bra, and b. Big dawg: another name for a brother, but generally reverent. Chick: one possessing two X chromosomes. Usually a more cordial term than “ho.” Ho: similar to chick, but perhaps less courteous. Noyce: “nice.” Usually said in congratulations for hooking up with an especially becoming chick or ho (see above), or for acquiring a flashy vehicle or piece of technology. Naw: an incredulous way to naysay something. Step 4: Beverage Responsibly Alcohol flows as freely in frat houses as do milk and honey in the Promised Land. While it may be tempting to take advantage of this chaotic place, get drunk, and do whatever you want (because what happens at Delta Delta stays at Delta Delta), you really, really shouldn’t, as a general rule of thumb. You can end up doing things like wading in a three-inch deep gutter at 4 in the morning. And things can get super awkward in the morning. This is a public service announcement, kids: beverage responsibly. Step 5: Have Fun I’ve aired my complaints about frat house living, but don’t get me wrong: it was sometimes so, so fun. Living in a frat, especially at MIT, provides a constant stream of crazy antics that you wouldn’t really experience anywhere else — whether it’s a hapless brother streaking down the stairs because he lost at pong, or someone taking a cardboard cutout of a certain Disney Channel movie star on a date as a dare, or listening to bromance unfold while two brothers sing along to the radio during their nightly showers (in adjacent stalls, ha), or playing Kings/SET/ foosball/touch football in the rain. So relax, have fun, and enjoy the Animal House-meets-Real Genius atmosphere. You’ll have lots of stories to tell. firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunrise in Costa Rica My travels in the tropical forests. By RIVA RILEY
:30 IN THE MORNING FOUND ME WITH my five roommates on a rocky trail, toiling up a mountain in one of the last remnants of tropical dry forest in the world. The trail abruptly ended, leaving us at a sharply rising pile of boulders. We hitched our packs up a little higher and began to climb, pointing our headlamps ahead of us and making sure to watch the crevices for scorpions. The sun was beginning to rise and we could hear the monkeys stirring in the trees around us. We stopped talking and hoped the vengeful capuchin monkeys would not find us. I gave myself a little shake to shoo away the mosquitoes gathering in small swarms around me, and then it was my turn to embark on the upward quest to the mirador. I got up the most vertical stretch and followed my friends along the crumbling path, hugging the rocky slope as I crept forward and scaled rocks, fallen trees, and other obstacles on the way. The sun was finally giving us some light as we jumped down a rocky embankment and finally arrived at the lookout point. Panting, we found seats on the rocks around us and pulled out bottles of water and small packages of Chiky cookies. It was safe to talk now, and the sun finally sparkled above the horizon and illuminated the forest around us, the wetlands before us, and the Tempisque River curving in the distance. The sunrise was one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen, and as we stared in silence at the view a flock of scarlet macaws
swooped just above our mirador, gliding easily as they wound around each other in midair. They spiraled down toward the forest in the distance, brilliant against the bright sunlight as they circled the trees and finally decided on a perch. There can be no other life but this one. “It’s time,” one of my roommates said quietly, and we realized we had lingered there for almost an hour. We clambered back down the trail with less urgency, taking the time to breathe and chat as we hiked. Suddenly we heard the distant calls of howler monkeys. We grinned as we heard it, but we suddenly jumped a foot off the ground when a howler roared from a tree branch ten feet away. One of my roommates leapt forward and howled at it in response, and it shouted back. After a few moments we left, trying to hide our delight that we had managed to have a conversation with a monkey. We staggered back into the field station at 6:00 AM and met our peers for breakfast. The day formally started after the meal, and we were separated into our project groups to tramp through the wetlands or return to the forest to gather data. We spent the morning in the field, returned to the station for lunch, and spent the afternoon analyzing data and attending a lecture about pollination syndromes. We took showers in unheated water before dinner and went to another lecture before bed, finally retiring under mosquito nets we’d firmly fixed below our mattresses each night. We told jokes and made fun of
each other all day, even as the mosquitoes tried their best to bleed us dry. Palo Verde, Costa Rica, was the setting of that adventure, and it was only one marvel of many that I saw this summer. The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) summer course in Costa Rica was not to be taken lightly; it tested our physical limits, it made us think about field studies and themes of tropical biology so deeply our heads felt numb, and it gave us more papers and presentations than we knew what to with, but it was so exciting and wonderful that we didn’t mind. The course was a glorious endeavor, but it was quite serious. We spent our time at three OTS field stations, Palo Verde, Las Cruces, and La Selva, except for one night of “vacation” spent at a resort. For our one day resort vacation, we only hiked 13 kilometers. We had visited a national park, Rincón de la vieja, for the day, and our TA promised us the most beautiful waterfall in Costa Rica if we went on a “thirty, forty minute hike” through the park. Of course we agreed and followed the marked trail through the rain-forest. The trail was a bit treacherous, with slippery mud and tree roots sticking up everywhere. We slipped and hopped over the area until we came to a stream. There was no bridge, so we hopped across on wet, slick rocks and felt sure we were almost there: we could hear a waterfall in the distance. We moved beyond the stream bank and stopped short because we were suddenly surrounded by agave. The trees
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
had thinned and gigantic agave plants, which resemble aloe vera plants in some respects, were growing everywhere, some as big as my car. We looked at each other, shrugged, and continued, trying to figure out how conditions had changed to make this happen. We were still discussing this when the temperature around us rose by several degrees, and we saw that the trees had disappeared and we were hiking through grasslands. The change had happened without warning, and when we turned back we could see the clear distinction between forest and field. We felt like we had entered an alternate universe, where the normal rules of biology don’t apply and the world can be whatever it wants. We proceeded through two more cycles of forest and grassland, passing a kindly British couple that told us the waterfall was forty minutes away, even though we had already been hiking for an hour. We thought the whole thing was a cruel joke until we finally laid eyes on the waterfall, which was truly spectacular. We cheered when we finally got there, and then spent ten more minutes skirting down the slabs of rock that led to the water. We put our stuff down and jumped in, swimming across the pool to the rocky ledges from which our professors were calling everyone. There, a hot spring flowed into the pool and we could sit in the hot water and watch the waterfall surge down. Eventually we played a rousing game of Marco Polo and took turns jumping into the waterfall, and the hike back through the enchanted landscape didn’t seem nearly as boggling as it did the first time. I recommend this OTS course with so much enthusiasm that I could probably bore you with my account of those four weeks. Yes, army ants invaded my bed one night at Palo Verde and a toucan flew through our window at Las Cruces, but these are the kinds of stories that are the most wonderful things, in retrospect. My time in the Cost Rican tropics has changed me, and when I gaze off into the distance, I don’t have idle daydreams. I go back to Crocodile Beach and dive into tropical streams; I hike through La Selva and find different kinds of poison dart frogs. I accidentally canoe through an overhanging tree and climb up the inside of a hollow strangler fig, and now I know I am sold: I cannot wait to be back in the jungle. Riva Riley (rjriley@fas) has been bitten by the tropics bug — literally. 09.10.09 s The Harvard Independent
Lost in Translation
On invisibility, erasure, and the Asian American experience. label inaccurately applied. The continent of Asia encompasses 60% of the world’s population and more than fifty countries, never mind its countless ethnic groups; but you would never know it from the usage of the term “Asian,” which apparently only includes East Asians: people of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese descent. Indians get their own separate category, and then the rest of Asia might as well not exist. To be Asian is, in one sense, to be invisible. When discussions about race take place, they are always about black and white, and as of fairly recently, perhaps with Latinos thrown in as well; Asians are absent from the conversation. Inclusivity doesn’t mean much if all that is included is black and white. It might be argued that the reason Asians are missing from the discussion is because they do not face some of the same problems as other minorities do; certainly, Asians fall on the advantaged side of a number of divides — socioeconomic status, representation in universities, even health. However, this argument fails to acknowledge the fact that Asians face their own set of challenges. A study by Thomas J. Espenshade and Chang Chung of Princeton University found that eliminating affirmative action would, as one might presume, substantially reduce the number of African-American and Hispanic students admitted to elite universities but would make little difference as to the number of white students admitted; instead, almost four out of five spots freed up would go to Asians. An earlier study showed that being Asian had approximately the same effect on chances of college admissions as scoring fifty points lower on the SAT. (Incidentally, that same study found that while underrepresented minorities are still given some preference in admissions, the degree of that preference is decreasing even as the preference for athletes is increasing.) I am not, in principle, against affirmative action; there is a great deal to be said for diversity on a college campus, and this is not the place for that discussion. I merely point out that, for all the complaining that some white people do when engaging in the subject, the system of affirmative action costs them very little — instead, it takes from one historically underprivileged minority and gives to another, a fact that is relevant but eternally lost in the ongoing debate surrounding affirmative action. So there is invisibility by omission, and then there is invisibility by erasure. The former can be written off as thoughtlessness; the latter is harder to swallow. Let me give you an extended example. Next summer, Paramount Pictures will be releasing a movie entitled The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and based on the popular Nickelodeon cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender. (The name was changed for the movie to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s upcoming film Avatar; for the purposes of this discussion, “Avatar” will refer to the animated series.) Avatar is set in a fantasy world, but one with very clear real-world influences. Of the The Harvard Independent s 09.10.09
four fictional peoples presented, two (Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom) are based on East Asian cultures, while the Air Nomads draws on Tibetan culture and the Water Tribe on the Inuit. This is made obvious through names (Aang, Sokka, Prince Zuko, Avatar Roku, Admiral Zhao, the village of Jang Hui, the city of Ba Sing Se), through clothing (anoraks and robes, as appropriate), and through the objects of daily life (chopsticks, pagoda roofs, signs with correct Chinese calligraphy). It’s debatable whether it’s possible to depict ethnic facial structure in a cartoon without descending into caricature — there is an entire discussion to be had here regarding cultural norms surrounding representation — but certainly some of the characters are much darker-skinned than others. Beyond that, there is little to suggest the ethnicity of the characters. So Paramount acquires the rights to a great property with a devoted fanbase and signs on M. Night Shyamalan as director — so far, so good, though Shyamalan hasn’t made a good movie since The Sixth Sense. And then they come to casting, and it all falls apart: each and every one of the main characters is played by a white person. Protest followed immediately, of course, but those involved with the film remained stubbornly oblivious to why anyone might find this whitewashing objectionable. I think the following quotes can speak for themselves: Jackson Rathbone, the actor signed to play Sokka, on playing a non-white character: “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need
Courtesy of Mochi Mag
N THE UNITED STATES, “ASIAN” IS AN IMPRECISE
By FAITH ZHANG
a tan.” Deedee Rickets, the casting director, on what to wear to open casting for extras: “We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.” Most recently, Professor Siu-Leung Lee, the cultural consultant for the animated show who also did the background calligraphy, revealed that he will not be working on the film — for the film, the Chinese characters will be replaced by some code or non-language. After the outcry from fans, Jesse McCartney was replaced by Dev Patel, but it was too little, too late — and while I wish Patel all the best, an Indian isn’t at all the same thing as an East Asian of whatever flavor. Why does this matter? Unlike, say, the question of affirmative action, it doesn’t and never could have directly impacted my life in any way, other than saving me ten bucks on a movie I would otherwise have been eager to see. Let me put it this way. If Superman were played by an actor of another race — black, perhaps, or Asian — there would be justified outcry, because Superman is white — an alien, but a white alien, apparently. Clark Kent is a manifestation of square-jawed, corn-fed, blueeyed white Midwestern masculinity. It’s not all he is, but it is part of who he is; race is not everything, but it’s not nothing either. It’s a meaningful part of identity. But Superman is set in the real world, you might say. A version of the real world that includes more than one variety of alien walking about on the earth and in which the
act of donning spandex apparently renders faces unrecognizable, but the real world nonetheless. Avatar’s is a fantasy world, so race as it exists in the real world is meaningless there. That argument might sound reasonable on the surface, but it fails to take several important factors into consideration. Even the most fantastic of worlds is not created whole cloth from nothing; it is created within a particular cultural context and cannot help but reflect it. Compare Avatar to a better-known fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings. Middle-earth may be a fantasy world, but it is steeped in Tolkien’s deep knowledge of Western European myth, legend, and linguistics. Tolkien gives only a little physical description of his characters here and there, but it is clear from the setting what they should look like. Let us leave aside for the moment the racial politics of what it means when the Haradrim, the dark-skinned people from the south are apparently all aligned, not only with the side opposed to the heroes of the piece, but with the actual manifestation of evil; an Asian Frodo or a black Aragorn, though he may serve to diffuse the racial tension, would be confusing and inaccurate, and that’s fine. But that Asian Frodo makes no more sense than an Avatar filled with Caucasians. Or to put it in simpler terms: race matters. There is no such thing as “race-blind.” The whitewashing in The Last Airbender is intolerable because it erases an entire category of culture and experience. (And finally, before someone finds it necessary to argue that it’s just a matter of profit, that there’s nothing to be done, because Americans simply won’t go to see a movie headlined by Asians, I will simply note two things: one, that the success of Slumdog Millionaire just this year would seem to indicate otherwise, not to mention the cult status achieved by the Harold and Kumar movies and the popularity of Jackie Chan among others; and two, that I try to think the best of my fellow Americans.) Here’s the thing: I’m not interested in the “Asian-American experience” as such. I’ve paid my dues, read my share of Amy Tan, but frankly I’m not interested in the explicit exploration of what it’s like to be Asian in America. I already know what it’s like; I live it every day. I just want there to be, now and then, Asian characters on TV who are neither martial artists nor geeks nor geisha, for whom being Asian is a part of their identity, but only a part. John Cho, who played Hikaru Sulu in this summer’s Star Trek, gave an interview in which he talked about watching the original series of Star Trek as a kid: “It was more just that feeling of, there’s an Asian guy on television. And then…actually being happy about what he was doing…There are so many times…you’re watching, and you end up groaning, because [the actor] ends up doing a ridiculous accent or playing a stereotype, and so many of those moments ended up in disappointment. But not with Star Trek.” Some twenty years later, I felt exactly the same way watching his character. I shouldn’t have to. Faith Zhang ’11 (fhzhang@fas) takes fiction very seriously. email@example.com
indy special A Plan to Preserve Private Insurance We need to move beyond the false dilemma of Obama-care or the status quo.
By JORDAN MONGE
F EAR - MONGERING . Simply un-American. These are the words that the Obama administration and the Democrats seem to want to attach to all Republican criticism of their proposed health care plan. Although Republicans are not free from blame in politicizing this debate, it is necessary to recognize that conservatives’ claims are valid opinions and not merely the delusions of a misinformed public. First off, let’s look at the number of uninsured individuals. The administration likes to put this number at 47 million. However, about 9.7 million of these are illegal immigrants. If Obama wants to include them in his estimates of the uninsured, he also is obliged to cover them under his proposed system of health care, which is another very controversial issue. It is incredibly disingenuous to include them to bolster claims about the uninsured and then ignore the fact that you will not be providing them with insurance. Another 17.6 million of the people included in this number have incomes above $50,000, which indicates that they are capable of purchasing health care, but have chosen to forgo it (often they may be between jobs). Finally, 14 million already qualify for Medicaid or other programs, but have chosen not to take advantage of them. This leaves only about 5 million who are without any form of insurance, out of a population of more than 300 million. When we begin to look at whether a government-run insurance competitor will be worthwhile, we have to look at the number of people who will truly be gaining insurance coverage. Although 5 million people is a significant number, we have to question if we should overhaul the current system, which many people appreciate, in order to provide coverage for 2% of the population. Furthermore, we have to question whether or not Obama’s proposed system will achieve the change he claims it will. Simple economic facts suggest that executing Obama’s plan will eventually lead to something extremely similar to a single-payer system. Although the
President asserts that adding a public option will increase competition without hurting insurance companies, getting the government involved is much more likely to reduce competition. The entire purpose of a government option is to undercut the prices of private insurance companies. While Obama believes this will cause private insurance companies to reduce prices in order to compete, it is also extremely likely to drive them out of business, causing a great number of people to flock to the public option. The government has an inherently superior market position for several reasons. Because the government’s insurance plan would be run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it would be exempt from taxes applied to private insurers, giving it an unfair advantage over them. As the recent experience with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae suggests, the government would be willing to bail out a public insurance company, giving it greater access to credit than would be available to private companies. Negotiations with doctors and hospitals for bill rates would be unfairly biased toward the public insurance option, which would have the law-making authority of the government behind it. All of these factors tilt the market heavily in favor of the government option. Considering the government’s current administration of Medicare and Medicaid, two health care programs which are likely to bankrupt the government unless they are reformed, we should not expect that the government will do a much better job with the proposed public option. We have to seriously question whether this proposal is truly worth an estimated $1 trillion dollars. Democrats have presented this health care bill as the only option for reform. Because the Republicans are very concerned about preventing the gradual development of a single payer system, they have not done the best job of presenting an alternative p la n for health care reform. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Democrats have overwhelming
majorities in Congress, making any Republican-led reform unlikely to pass. Yet there are other options for healthcare reform besides the President’s current proposal, many of which were suggested by the Harvard College Republicans at a debate sponsored by the Harvard Political Union against the Harvard College Democrats. They presented a four part plan, including: 1. Eliminating the restrictions on consumers which prohibit them from purchasing insurance across state lines, enabling greater competition to lower prices. 2. Eliminating the employer tax exemption for health care, freeing up funding to be used for a tax credit or deductible for each American towards the purchase of health insurance, promoting cost-sensitivity by ensuring greater consumer control. 3. Enforcing common-sense reforms like investment in medical information technology to improve efficiency and allowing greater access to nurse-practitioners and other health professionals for simpler procedures to reduce costs. 4. Capping punitive damages in civil litigation to reduce the cost of malpractice insurance for doctors and ensuring a reduction in cost for care. These are all viable options for reform which would not expand the size of the government. They are relatively costneutral for the government, but would lower prices and expand access to health care through reduced costs. We need to move beyond the false dilemma of Obama-care or the status quo. We need to start discussing bipartisan options that are significant enough to achieve change, but small enough to garner support from both sides. We need to address the the issue from a rational, reasonable, and honest perspective. This is the only way to accomplish change that we can all believe in. Jordan Monge ‘12 (jmonge@fas) is a member of the Harvard Republican Club.
09.10.09 s The Harvard Independent
Pass Comprehensive Reform America’s had enough of the status quo. By WILL WEINGARTEN
URING THE FAILED HEALTHCARE
reform attempt of 1994, Ted Kennedy said, “What we have in the United States is not so much a health-care system as a disease-care system.” While the United States may have the finest surgeons and the best cancer survival rates in the world, our inability to provide a basic standard of care for all Americans has left us lagging behind even Cuba on infant mortality rates, a key health care indicator, even though we spend a higher percentage of GDP on health care than other developed nations. Twisted economic incentives have left us with a medical monster that threatens to completely envelop our tax dollars, cripple our small businesses, and destroy our middle class. Despite Republican assertions to the contrary, this dilemma cannot be solved by free market solutions without government involvement. Because of the unavailability of reliable consumer reports, the hidden distribution of costs, and the complexity of insurance agreements, even a doctor would have difficulty making the informed comparisons between plans that the market model requires. Worse, the current profit-driven system gives insurers an incentive to pay for as little care as possible. Unbridled deregulation, as proposed by Republicans, could lead to a “race to the bottom,” whereby insurers drive premiums lower and lower in exchange for a rapidly declining standard of coverage that fails to insure against serious costs. Slashing coverage is not an appropriate way to bring costs under control and will instead transform serious illnesses into financial death sentences. We must therefore direct our hopes to President Obama to place the United States on a path towards addressing the issues of cost, coverage, and care. While there is no simple solution, the legislation being debated before Congress will bring much-needed fixes. First, Democratic legislation will aid America’s 47 million uninsured
The Harvard Independent s 09.10.09
along with the many more who suffer from inadequate coverage. This will be partially done through expanded Medicaid enrollment and sliding scale subsidies for middle class families struggling to pay for insurance. Tax credits will be provided to small businesses that provide health insurance, employers will be required to make contributions to health care, and Americans up to age 26 will be eligible for coverage under their parents’ plans. Helping every American afford a proper standard of basic care will improve productivity, save lives, and reduce emergency room costs. Second, proposed consumer protections contained in existing drafts of health care legislation will ensure that health insurance fulfills its intended purpose of helping consumers shoulder the burden of health care costs. Regulations will clamp down on the use of preexisting conditions to excuse denying care when it is most desperately needed. Limits on out-ofpocket spending will reverse the rise of bankruptcies associated with medical ailments, which currently make up 60% of all bankruptcies. Insurers will be encouraged or required to spend a higher proportion of dollars on actual care, thus providing them with an incentive to improve administrative efficiency. If 16% of our GDP is going to health care, we want to ensure that those dollars are there when we need them. Third, investments in information technology and cost-effectiveness research will finally bring medicine into the 21 st century by helping doctors utilize the data at their disposal to make sound, science-based decisions. The Institute of Medicine concluded that nearly 100,000 lives a year are lost to medical errors, a figure that could be easily reduced through adherence to best practices and better medical records. Moreover, Dr. Peter Amadio of the Mayo clinic estimated that up to 33% of health care expenditures are wasted on tests and procedures, many of which are unnecessary at best and fraudulently ineffective at worst. By studying the
effectiveness of medical procedures and better utilizing electronic systems, the medical community can drive down waste and ensure that patients receive the care they need. Democrats believe that these investments can have a disproportionately large impact on how healthcare works in this country. Finally, Democrats will inject regulated competition into the health care market place through a health care exchange and a strong public option. The exchange, as Families USA notes, will allow low to middle income families to shop between standardized plans that are easily comparable and will contain strong consumer protections. Such regulations will protect the marketplace from the self-destructive cycle of Republican proposals. One of the competitors on the exchange will be a public option, an idea that originated as a compromise between a truly private system and a single payer model. A strong public option is one of the few politically realistic tools available to incentivize a change in how insurance works. Because the public option will be tasked with driving down costs through more efficient care, it could potentially revolutionize the current health care business model by forcing insurance companies to reimburse based on effectiveness instead of on the number by procedures in order to remain viable. President Obama understands that while the public option is not the only aspect of reform, it is a powerful tool for driving down costs through competition. The political necessity of compromises means that Congress may not be able to deliver change fundamental enough to completely fix our woes. However, that should not serve as an excuse for inaction on this critical issue. After decades of failure, it is time for our government to work towards protecting consumers, controlling costs, and making quality care a right of every American. Will Weingarten ‘11 (wweingar@fas) is a member of the Harvard College Democrats.
indy special Healthcare Voices ““It’s not a public option, (it’s) really the government option. Because it’s the government-run health care system.” - Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), at an Arizon town hall meeting.
Wealthy Obama Speaks to Congress Nations by the Numbers Miss the speech last Children Living in Poverty, 2000
“If the Congressional left can’t pass even something as modest as a watered down public option, then frankly I don’t think anyone is going to take the left very seriously later on in this Congress. When Blue Dogs talk, there are fewer of them but they have more influence than when progressives talk.” - Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), quoted on WhoRunsGov.com.
“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care.” - Sarah Palin, on her Facebook page.
United States: 21.7% United Kingdom: 16.2% Portugal: 15.6% Japan: 14.3% Canada: 13.6% Norway: 3.6% Switzerland: 6.8% Source: OECD, Society at a Glance, 2005
Public and Private Health Care Spending Per Capita, 2005 United States: $6,102 Switzerland: $4,077 Norway: $3,966 Canada: $3,165 UK: $2,546 Japan: $2,249 Portugal: $1,813 Source: OECD in Figures 2006-07
“Irrespective of whether there are any Republicans, I will move forward. We have to move forward. If there are not any Republicans on board, I will move forward in any event.” - Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), quoted in the New York Times.
“If the president wants to get something done, he needs to put aside the extreme liberal wing of his party.” - Mitt Romney (R-MA), on CBS’s “Early Show”.
“A bill without a strong public option will not pass the House.” - Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Speaker, in a statement.
“This Congress can pass meaningful reform soon to reduce some of the fear and anxiety families are feeling in these very difficult times,” Boustany said in prepared remarks. “Working together in a bipartisan way, we can truly lower the cost of health care while improving quality for the American people.” - Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), in the official response to Obama’s Congressional speech.
"This is what I do know: if we continue the way we've been going, it's unsustainable in terms of cost. I don't have to tell you, but health care costs have doubled in the past 10 years." Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), answering a question from a constituent at the Minnesota State Fair.
Health spending as a percentage of GDP: United States: 15.3% Germany: 10.6% Canada: 10.0% UK: 8.4% Source: OECD in Figures 2008
Infant Mortality Rates, 2005 United States: 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births Canada: 5.3 UK: 5.1 Switzerland: 4.2 Portugal: 3.5 Norway: 3.1 Japan: 2.8 Source: OECD, Society at a Glance, 2006
Life Expectancy at Birth: Japan: 82.1 years Switzerland: 81.3 years Canada: 80.2 years Norway: 80.1 years UK: 79.0 years Portugal: 78.2 years United States: 77.8 years Source: OECD, Society at a Glance, 2006
night? Here’s the highlight reel. By SAM JACK - Obama opens by celebrating the successes of his economic policy: “I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.” - “It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform, and ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way.” - Three basic goals for the health care plan: “It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” - Emphasizes prohibition on denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, prohibition on yearly and lifetime benefit caps: “In the United States, no one should go broke because they get sick.” - Endorses John McCain’s proposal to extend lowcost coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. “This was a good idea when Senator McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should embrace it.” - Reiterates support for mandates: “Individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.” ... “There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage.” - Dismisses “death panel” hoax: “Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.” - Makes the case for a public option to increase competition: “Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75% of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90% is controlled by just one company. Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down.” - “I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.” - “Not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan. The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies.” -”Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers.” - “I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it.” -”I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.” 09.10.09 s The Harvard Independent
Adventures in Contrast and Form
Kandinsky retrospective moves to New York City.
By SONIA COMAN
RAPPED IN AN ICY LIGHT, VIOLENT black
strokes and velvety creatures seemed to expand on the white walls, while the visitors’ lines slowly proceeded from one painting to the other. This was the atmosphere that dominated the opening days of the Kandinsky retrospective in Paris. A comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s paintings, drawings and writings, the event is traveling around the world. Hosted by the Städtische Galerie in Munich from October 2008 through February 2009 and by the Pompidou Center in Paris last spring and over the summer, the exhibition’s next venue will be the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (September 18, 2009, to January 13, 2010). I visited the exhibition at the Pompidou Center, which attracts crowds of Parisian youth on Sunday afternoons to study or simply to hang out. Displayed chronologically and occupying several rooms of the high-tech museum, Kandinsky’s paintings offered a symphony of colors and demanded repeat visits. Kandinsky was born in Moscow under the tsar’s rule in 1866 and died in a Parisian suburb in 1944 as a French citizen. Before World War I, in Munich, he founded the influential expressionist group The Blue Rider. While presenting the main motifs of Kandinsky’s work from that period, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s preoccupation with the connections
between painting and music and the relation of art to nature. The transition from one display room to the next mirrors the artist’s evolution, emphasising his major contributions to modern art. Presented as a consistent body of work, his paintings reveal his quest for free artistic expression and for a candid revelation of the artist’s inner intentions. The explanatory panels brought in additional information about his interest in synesthesia and in the development of a new abstract vocabulary.
The 2009 retrospective presents more than 100 paintings, particularly focusing on his well-known series Impressions and Improvisations. The exhibition showcases a remarkable range of Kandinsky’s work, from A Colorful Life (1907), the artist’s early figurative masterpiece, to Bleu de Ciel (1940), a simple composition displaying his filtered abstract language. In the Pompidou Center, two rooms highlighted Kandinsky’s early drawings and excerpts of his writings, including the seminal treatise Concerning
the Spiritual in Art of 1911. The exhibition reunites masterpieces which have been rarely shown together and it also included several fragile works, which are seldom itinerant, because the artist painted them with an unusual mix of sand and pigment. For the Guggenheim Museum, the retrospective marks the celebration of the institution’s fiftieth anniversary. It is not by chance that Kandinsky is showcased for the occasion, as Solomon Guggenheim was one of the artist’s most enthusiastic supporters. The museum was once called the “Museum of Non-Objective Painting,” clearly a reference to Guggenheim’s impressive collection of Kandinsky’s works. The restrictions of space in the Guggenheim Museum may reconfigure the upcoming exhibition, causing it to be perceived differently than it was in Pompidou. In the same way in which a work of art develops a life of its own, independent of its author, an itinerant exhibition has the potential of conveying different messages, depending on its context. Perhaps more intimately than in Pompidou, but just as cohesively, the retrospective at the Guggenheim will highlight new perspectives on Kandinsky’s work and artistic legacy. Sonia Coman ‘11 (coman.sonia@gmail) is working on her own treatise, “Concerning the Spiritual in Art Reviews.”
Waiting for Closure Behind The Window Carlos Sorín chronicles a day from an eighty-year-old man’s life.
BOSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS’ MOVIE screenings are definitely worth the 30-minute subway ride to Huntington Avenue. Last Friday, I had a chance to see La Ventana (The Window) by Carlos Sorín who is a 65-year old Argentine director, screenplay writer and producer. The story of The Window starts and ends with a blurry scene that is supposed be the protagonist Don Antonio’s dream of his nanny from 80 years ago. He is not able to distinguish his imaginary vision of his nanny from two real nurses who take care of him now. Don Antonio (Antonio Laretta), who is actually an Uruguayan author in his late eighties, is confined to bed under his doctor’s orders due to a heart sickness and spends his last days in his country house in rural Argentina. There is nothing around the house except vast farm fields. Two nurses and the old servant of the house communicate with the doctor through a radiophone if Don Antonio’s medical condition changes. It is very hard to travel to surrounding towns and villages because of the ill maintained roads. Vacillating between his repressed memories, present condition and future expectations, Don Antonio gets ready for his pianist son’s rare visit from Europe. He HE
The Harvard Independent s 09.10.09
By PELIN KIVRAK
requests a piano tuner to fix the instrument in the living room, and brings out a vintage bottle of champagne that he’d been keeping in the cellar for a special occasion. Don Antonio’s only visible connection to the outside world is his bedroom window. As an author, his thoughts and experiences are able to traverse the fields but as an old man,
he cannot even walk to the window without getting help from his nurses. Struggling against the incarceration of his imagination inside his useless body, he decides to take a walk after seeing the glorious day outside his window. Even though he has an IV drip, he manages to go some distance, but eventually faints in the middle of his fields. More exhausted than ever,
he now has to receive his son in bed, barely able to talk or raise a glass of champagne that he is not even allowed to drink. The movie presents sharp disconnects between mind and body; between Don Antonio and the surroundings he has to deal with. However, these contrasts do not come with a feeling of desperation, nor are they frustrating for the characters themselves. In fact, they are all presented as somehow natural, which corresponds to the film’s general notion of life and aging. The cruel reality of mortality is constantly alleviated by the peaceful memories and writings of Don Antonio. What he sees out his window (the limitless sky, land and vegetation) is a representation of immortality and the window itself is the symbol of the individual who is given the opportunity to see just a part of it, and without taking any part in it. When Don Antonio tries to deny the nature of his own body by going out for a walk, the earth somehow captures him and reminds him of its imperishable power. Although every character, including Don Antonio himself, is aware of the contrast between what he feels like doing and what he is capable of, they all
CONTINUED ON PAGE 10 firstname.lastname@example.org
Much Ado About Summer
Reviewing (500) Days of Summer and The Donkey Show. By SUSAN ZHU
500 Days of Summer
I FIRST SAW THE TRAILER FOR (500) Days of Summer, I was confused. The voiceover claimed that the movie was “not a love story,” but a “story about love.” What? Hadn’t Hollywood, and even Bollywood, taught me that every story about love is a love story? I think Matthew McConaughey would agree. But (500) Days of Summer really isn’t one of those sub-par summer romantic comedies. It’s a beautifully refreshing break from the giddy glitz of Hollywood, where everything is predictable from the moment you’re introduced to the two hottie protagonists. From the very beginning, we learn that waiting-for-The-One Tom Hansen (an adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer Finn (big-eyed and vintage Zooey Deschanel) broke up. Or rather, that Summer broke up with Tom, and Tom is absolutely heartbroken. They really don’t waste time in this movie. The two worked in the same office: Tom, a greeting card writer with secret ambitions to be an architect, and Summer, the assistant to the boss. They bond over music and we’re taken for a ride through their relationship. It’s not chronological; the days on the screen jump back and forth, creating interesting, ironic, and funny juxtapositions from before and after the two break up. The humor is subtle and charming – it doesn’t aim for big belly laughs or play the stupid-things-are-funny card, but it really is funny, which is good, because break-ups usually aren’t all that entertaining. What I love about the movie is its ability to capture reality, even if the musical interlude would never happen in real life and even if certain smaller elements seem contrived. It portrays the real emotions of love so well, from overwhelming happiness to the depths of despair. Even the characters seem genuine and relatable. Gordon-Levitt isn’t the Hollywood hunk who’s been tanned and built to perfection, and Deschanel, while beautiful, isn’t intimidatingly modellike. As much as Summer is made out to be HEN
the bad guy who never believed in true love, I felt a personal connection with her, and with Tom. Anyone who’s ever had to break up with someone or was broken up with probably will feel a similar connection. It was easy to keep hoping that Tom would be the knight who won back the princess, that Summer would reach an epiphany and run back into his arms and that the two will live happily ever after. But the point of the movie isn’t to follow the fairy-tale formula. No matter if you’re Summer or Tom, hung up over someone who can’t love you back or wondering if (s)he’s really right for you, sooner or later, you’ll find love. Real love, not the unrequited kind. The pain along the way will suck, and you may really think that someone who broke your heart is perfect for you. But as soon as you take off the blinders, you’ll probably find him or her in the most unexpected of places. Love isn’t easy; the process of finding it is far from perfect. There are tears and anguish that go with the laughter and joy. But, as Summer says so perfectly, one day, you’ll wake up and find that you just know.
The Donkey Show OW.
WHERE TO BEGIN? WHEN MY entryway tutor said she had extra tickets to The Donkey Show, I thought I was signing up to watch a musical production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. But that doesn’t begin to describe what I actually experienced. This isn’t your usual Broadway musical, where you pay lots of money for a seat and people sing and act on a stage in front of you. No. You’re on the stage – and actually, it’s a dance floor. The Donkey Show is playing at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) on Mass Ave, in a pretty cool venue called Oberon (coincidentally, the name of the fairy king in “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”) – 18 to enter, 21 to drink. The first thing you notice while in line is that there are women dressed as men, in afros, hitting on you. Then there’s a guy on roller-skates with wings on his head, who kind of just pokes people and generally tries to be annoying. They’re all actors from the show – it’s pretty crazy. When you get inside, you realize you’ve stepped into the middle of a disco dance party. There are lights, and big boxes that people can dance on. And on the big boxes are scantily clad guys with glitter paint all over their bodies, dancing raunchily with whoever dares to or is drunk enough to get on a box
with them. Like I said, pretty crazy. The dance party goes on for at least 40 minutes (“Play That Funky Music, White Boy” and “YMCA” were two songs I actually knew), and then the show starts. You expect to see the show on the stage (there actually is a stage), and at first, the completely-nude-except-forbutterflies-over-her-nipples Titania is on the stage. But the actors are placed everywhere – on the balconies, in the seating area, on the dance floor, on the stage – and they move, on top of those boxes, or running through the audience, or carried by the still-scantily-clad glitter guys. Most of the time, while attempting to pay attention to all the movement, singing, and plot, you’re being moved around by a member of the stage crew, trying to make an aisle so the actors can run through while belting out “Car Wash” or some other 70’s song that came a decade too early for you to know the words. And sometimes, you don’t move or notice fast enough, and you’ll find that a scantily-clad glittery guy has just rammed into you, a box carrying Lysander trailing him. For some reason, all the leads are women (or at least I think they are) – Oberon, Lysander and Demetrius wear mustaches, which is interesting in and of itself since back in Shakespeare’s day, shorter men with high-pitched voices were hired to play female parts. Overall, it was a very interesting experience. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Maybe if I loved disco songs, I would be really into it, but I mostly felt annoyed at having to move all the time. Shakespeare is either crying somewhere or enjoying the dancing mayhem that his work has inspired. And maybe if he really was gay, he would at least appreciate the scantily clad glitter guys. Susan Zhu ‘11 (szhu@fas) wishes that summer would never end.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10 reflect this unpleasant incapability as a pleasant notion of being privileged. Therefore, the phase that Don Antonio is going through is no different from childhood: he is usually not able to separate his dreams from reality, he needs constant attention and he sleeps most of the day. The cyclical nature of time and one’s life-span is depicted as a full cycle that starts and ends with similar scenes as the movie itself starts and ends with the very same memory of Don Antonio, reminding us that individuals come to the world and leave it in similar ways, but the earth stays as it is regardless. Themes of repetition and continuity are rendered through various motifs in the film. Buzzing bees, tick-tocks of the clock, notes played on the piano; all are there to highlight the sublime
indifference of great and immortal Nature to our hackneyed notion of living. Each experience is irreversible, like the inner strings of the piano that the summoned tuner could not fix. And when the experiences are revisited out of their regular contexts, they do not produce the same effect at all. Imbedding poetry and music into the simple story of a day, director Carlos Sorín puts forward an image of perfect harmony. As the piano tuner tries all day to fix the piano, you tune your ears to the wonderful Argentine accent. Abstract paintings, portraits, literary talks and wonderful natural colors are inserted into the plot here and there. The way in which Sorín celebrates the details without obsessing over them frees his work from being merely significant in its genre.
Don’t think that a movie about a dying man is the last thing you want to see on a weekend night because The Window is a movie that celebrates life, even at the very edge of it. Thursday September 10, 6pm Friday September 11, 3.30pm Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Avenue of the Arts 465 Huntington Avenue Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Pelin Kivrak ‘11 (pkivrak@fas) is glad that Don Antonio escaped the death panels.
09.10.09 s The Harvard Independent
Watch Out For Barca
By NICK NEHAMAS
Real Madrid has designs on the Euro championship, but first they need to deal with a competitor closer to home.
N THIS SPACE LAST WEEK, I DISCUSSED REAL MADRID’S INCREDIBLY
busy summer spending spree during the course of which they spent the astounding sum of $360 million on eight players. Real’s management team has said their splurge was justified because it was the only way to catapult the club back into Europe’s footballing elite. In other words, they want the team to win the Champions League, European club football’s financial Holy Grail. But wait a second, amigos, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Before Real can even dream of progressing into the depths of the Champions League, they first have to figure out a way to win their primary domestic commitment, La Liga, as the Spanish league is popularly known. Standing in their way is Barcelona, Europe and Spain’s premier team at the moment. No one could call Barcelona’s transfer policy this summer stingy, with President Joan Laporta and his technical director Txiki Begiristain having splashed out $132 million. But while Real spent lavishly on every area of the pitch — even those where their team was not in need of an upgrade — Barcelona’s approach was measured, unhurried, and without the drama and media circus that Real so publicly created. Barcelona’s one sensational move was the purchase of Inter’s star Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. This was accompanied by the pickup of two capable defenders, the Brazilian Maxwell for $6.4 million and the Ukrainian star Dmytro Chygrynskiy, who has established himself as a regular for club and country over the past two seasons in spite of his youth. Otherwise, it was mainly a tale of temporary exits for Barcelona as several promising young players were sent on loan to gain experience, along with a more established player, the famous dribbler Aliaksandr Hleb of Belarus, who unfortunately never looked nearly as comfortable in Catalunya as he did in London with his former club Arsenal. Leaving the team permanently were the back-up keeper Albert Jorquera, the aged left-back Sylvinho, the little-used reserve striker Eiður Guðjohnsen and, of course, the fantastically talented Samuel Eto’o, who heads to Inter as part of the Ibrahimovic deal. A large section of the Spanish media, and one intrepid Harvard Indy reporter, have spent the last few weeks of August wondering how Real coach Manuel Pellegrini would mold his huge squad into a consistent starting eleven. No such effort needed for Barcelona’s stream-lined squad. We can rest assured that second-year coach Pep Guardiola, a former midfield maestro for Barcelona throughout the 1990’s, has a pretty good idea of his team. It is an impressive bunch of players who provide great variety all over the pitch and have clearly grown very comfortable playing together over the last few years. Barcelona do not have the dominant, in-your-face defense of traditional champions. Instead, they employ a flat-back four of strong, fit players, all very comfortable on the ball, whose running and positioning ensure that they are rarely forced to dive into tackles. Carles Puyol, the shaggy-haired, crooked-nosed captain, anchors the unit’s play from the middle (though he has also been deployed as a capable if somewhat static right full-back). He has lost a step over the years but his reading of the game remains of the highest quality. Next to him is the impressive young player Gerard Piqué, who only made it into the first team thanks to an injury crisis last season but seems to have done enough to win his place as a starter. Piqué is composed beyond his years and, in the rare instances when Barca’s midfield generals are out of ideas (see last year’s Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg against Chelsea), he has the ability and confidence to drive his team forward by dribbling up out of defense and distributing the ball to his attackers. On the right side of defense, Barcelona play one of their most The Harvard Independent s 09.10.09
impressive attacking weapons, the flying Brazilian full-back Dani Alves. He looks like a thug, plays like one too and has an absolute rocket for a right foot. Though his forward runs sometimes leave the defense exposed, Alves’ overlapping is a crucial part of Barca’s attack and a valuable outlet for their right winger, Lionel Messi. The left side of defense has been a traditional weak point in the team since the departure of Giovanni Van Bronckhorst in 2007 and to fill it this year Barcelona’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, has recruited the able Brazilian Maxwell, formerly of Inter. Last year’s starter, the often tragic Frenchman Éric Abidal, seems headed for the bench.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Overall, the unit is extremely impressive, probably the most impressive in Europe (though some Chelsea fans might disagree), and that includes the goalkeeper, Victor Valdés, who is not the liability many critics made him out to be early in his career. The defense will be backed up this year by the young Chygrynskiy, the experienced Mexico captain Rafa Márquez (who can also feature in midfield) and the permacrocked Argentine Gabriel Milito, as well as several youth team prospects. Barcelona’s defensive strategy is simple: they deny the other team possession of the ball. Of course, this would not be possible without a midfield that almost never loses it. Anchoring it is the Ivory Coast international Yaya Touré (younger brother of former Arsenal and current Manchester City star Kolo). He shields the defense and provides the hard tackling and grit that allow his two midfield partners, Xavi Hernandez and Andrés Iniesta, to push forward. Xavi is a deep-lying center midfielder of the old school: he can pass the ball absolutely anywhere on the field, control the pace of his team’s game as conductor does his orchestra, and even throw in the odd crunching tackle or other bit of defensive grunt work here or there. Iniesta has the free role, popping up on the right or the left of the front three, tucking in behind the central striker, or dropping deep to collect the ball and launch an attack. The twenty-one year-old Catalan Sergio Busquets will also be a regular in the team. Although
he had never played higher than the Spanish third division prior to last year’s campaign, Busquets finished with 41 first team appearances and never looked out of place. His greatest accomplishment was surely his solid performance in last year’s Champions League Final against Manchester United, whose midfield he helped to squeeze completely out of the game. The Malian left-footer Seydou Keita is another reliable player who can serve as a useful cog in Barca’s midfield. While the midfield is the heart-and-soul of the team, Barcelona’s attacking trident is the kind of forward line that leaves soccer fans seeing stars. Thierry Henry is one of the game’s dominant strikers. His ability to score (especially in the minds of the adoring Arsenal fans he left behind in 2007) is almost unparalleled in the game. Something of a surprise, then, for him to be deployed by coach Pep Guardiola not as an out-and-out striker but as a left winger, a position he had been employed in with mediocre effect earlier in his career at Juventus, and again by a succession of conservative coaches on the French national team. But after a somewhat slow start (slow by Henry’s standards being an impressive season tally of 16 goals in his inaugural season), Henry has mastered the position in the swan-song of his glittering career — a career which, one hopes, might find its conclusion with the New York Red Bulls of MLS. On the right is a man, a boy really at 22 years old but a first-teamer since 2004, born for a place on the wing: the short but strong Lionel Messi whose pace and low center-ofgravity allow him to penetrate even the most well-constructed defenses and cut the ball back across the box for his target man. For the last several years that role of center forward was played to perfection by the Cameroonian penalty box predator Samuel Eto’o, scorer of 108 goals in 145 competitive matches for Barcelona. This year, Barcelona found the only striker who could provide a legitimate upgrade to their style of play. Zlatan Ibrahimović’s transfer from Internazionale of Milan was certainly costly at $68 million dollars plus Samuel Eto’o but the expense will prove well worth it. Ibrahimovic’s height and ability to hold up the ball before passing it off and running into space will provide a new dimension to Barcelona’s play. Eto’o was a fantastic goal scorer but not much of a creative force. He tended to finish moves, not start them. Ibrahimović can do both. Providing competition up front will be the Serbo-Spaniard youngster Bojan Krkić, who will surely demand a bigger role in the team after 13 goals off the bench in his opening two seasons with the first team. With their silky one-touch passing, constant movement, and fantastic goal-scorers, Barcelona are without a doubt playing the best soccer of this decade. While Barcelona most likely will not retain the Champions League (no team in European history has ever achieved that feat), they will surely go deep in the competition and handily pip free-spending Madrid to the Spanish league title. Madrid’s controversial President Florentino Perez would do well to learn from his rival Laporta, who has labeled the prices of the current transfer market “silly,” and shown no tolerance for players who put their own careers before the team’s fortunes, having ignominiously shipped off the world’s once greatest player, Ronaldinho, to A.C. Milan in 2008 and now similarly banished the egotistical Eto’o. I, for one—along with all of Catalunya and those who believe that football is more than a game and that Barca are, as their motto has it, “Més que un club” (“More than a club”) — am looking forward to seeing Real’s hot-shot superstars self-destruct while Barcelona’s consummate professionals add to their already impressive resumés. Nick Nehamas ’11 (nehamas@fas) knows that money can't buy everything. email@example.com
captured and shot