Posts Tagged ‘Ceres’

Letter From New York 03 06 15 Not Accident Prone…

March 6, 2015

It is around 4:15 in the afternoon as I begin this; the day is just beginning to fade. All day the sun has been bright and crisp, sharp shadows crossing the land. Despite the sun, it’s been cold outside though while I was in the city the ice on the creek did melt.

The trend is for warming weather here, getting up to 49 degrees on Monday, the first real break in the cold in weeks.

It’s been a busy day; finishing some numbers for the accountants and getting them and some paperwork delivered. I have waded through some other paperwork and am now sitting down to write.

While driving home from the accountants, I listened to a report on NPR about the destruction that appears to be happening at Nimrud, an ancient Assyrian city in the hands of IS. I’ve noted before they have posted pictures of them taking sledgehammers to ancient works of art. IS believes these artifacts are signs of idolatry and therefore must be destroyed. They’re taking with them the history of much of the world, including their own.

In another sad note today, Albert Maysles, the noted documentarian, passed away last night in New York City. He and his brother, David, made some of the most famous documentaries of the 20th Century, including “Gimme Shelter” about the 1969 Rolling Stone tour that included footage of a man being stabbed to death at Altamont and “Grey Gardens” about two cousins of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. He continued to work up until his death. I met him a couple of times at events. He was, deservedly, a legend of the documentary world.

Long a fan of space exploration [the only person I have ever asked for an autograph is Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon], NASA’s Dawn has settled into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, seeking signs of life on it while testing technology that may be used to carry supplies to a manned outpost on Mars.

Also, in technology today, but somewhat more frightening, is that Lockheed-Martin successfully tested its new ATHENA laser weapon today, destroying a truck’s engine from more than a mile away. Ray guns are here.

This weekend is the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma march that was disrupted by violence, captured by the news, and seen as a major turning point for the national attitude toward civil rights. Obama is leading the commemoration on Saturday, extolling young people to be active. One of the leaders of the Selma to Montgomery march was John Lewis, then only 23 and now a member of Congress.

Apple is joining the Dow Jones index of stocks while that index plunged today on the good news that jobs had grown more than expected and thus raised fears of an interest rate hike.

The political scene seems dominated by two conversations today. One is the specter that Hillary Clinton cannot manage a campaign. The email snafu is an indicator, say some pundits. And if she can’t run a campaign, will she be able to manage an administration?

The second big news in the political scene is that Democratic Senator Menendez of New Jersey is facing indictment on charges of corruption, trading influence for gifts.

Andy Lack is returning to NBC News. Having built The Nightly News and Today into powerhouses, he departed NBC. They are now bringing him back to fix the mess they have. Today is trailing Good Morning America and we all know about Brian Williams.

Veteran actor Harrison Ford, of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, crash-landed a vintage World War II plane on a golf course in California yesterday. While he sustained injuries, he is expected to make a full recovery. He does seem accident-prone though.

Thankfully, I am not too accident-prone. The sun is slowly setting as I finish this; the world seems shades of brown outside my window. I am going online next to look at hotels in Delhi. It is only sixteen days until I leave.

Letter From New York 01 20 15 After Viewing El Greco…

January 20, 2015

Waking to the sounds of the city this morning, I sipped coffee while listening to the beep beep beep of trucks backing up on the street outside the apartment. After the quiet of the countryside, it was interesting to be surrounded by the urban roar.

This is the closing week for the El Greco exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and I met my friend David Wolf there just as the museum opened so that we could explore without the midday crowds. Once we knew where to go to find El Greco, we found ourselves waylaid by the wonders of the museum.

Eventually we reached the exhibit, not monumental but incredibly impressive. Gathered in the R H Macy Gallery were perhaps forty of the master’s works, each one demanding time to process.

It is easy to see why El Greco is considered a major influence on modern painters. Picasso, Monet, the German impressionists, all claimed he inspired them. His work seems out of sync with the times in which he painted, his works bolder, brighter and more dynamic than those of his contemporaries. At least that is how it seemed to me.

We tarried a good long time and then went our separate ways, David to his lawyering, me to an inbox chock a block with emails.

While I was taking in the works of El Greco, the Mayor of New York, Bill DeBlasio, was in Paris, paying respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack there. He laid flowers at a memorial.

And while I was perusing El Greco, the Mayor of Paris announced that she was going to sue Fox News for defaming her city by declaring there were “No Go” zones in the city, off limits to anyone who was not Muslim.

Fox has apologized at least four times for the inaccuracy of its statements. Apparently it is not enough to placate Madame Hidalgo. One of Fox’s terrorism “experts” declared that Birmingham in England was also a “No Go” zone. That nearly caused Prime Minister Cameron to choke on his porridge.

As I sit writing this the residence of the President of Yemen appears to be under attack, causing fears of a coup in that country. The brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack proclaimed their allegiance to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

I doubt anyone wants more instability there.

Tonight, President Obama goes in front of the nation to deliver his sixth State of the Union address. He will be going back to his theme of raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing fees on banks. I doubt he thinks he will get this accomplished with a Republican Congress and Senate but I am sure he is framing the conversation for the Post Obama era, which is rapidly approaching.

I hope no ones boos him this year. Remember that?

Usually, I don’t watch the State of the Union address because I have unwittingly made a social engagement for the same evening, as I have done this year. As President Obama outlines his plans for the coming year, I will be sitting at dinner with a friend who works for Fordham. I will catch up later, when I get home and all the dissection is happening.

Out in space the Dawn spacecraft is closing in on the dwarf planet, Ceres, and soon we’ll get a look at the largest chunk in the asteroid belt. Scientists are all a titter over their first close look at this celestial body.

And in Herculaneum there is a villa destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius some 1900 years ago. In its library there is a treasure trove of manuscripts, which were scorched and have been unreadable. With technology, it looks as if they will be able to be read again without damaging them.

It is nice to think that we may recover more knowledge from the ancients after all this time. It should be a good library; the villa was owned by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.