Posts Tagged ‘Charlie Hebdo’

Letter From New York 01 07 16 Thoughts on a hard day…

January 8, 2016

Stock market rout   Jamison Teale   Christ Church  Hudson  Roy Moore   Alabama Gay Controversy  Tiffany Martin Hamilton  Tommy Ragland  Charlie Hebdo Anniversary  Oklahoma earthquakes  Netflix  Bill Clinton  Hillary Clinton  John Kerry  Syrian Peace Process  Iran  Saudi Arabia  California storms  Ted Cruz  Burns, Oregon

Well, I was smart enough today to not look at the market as it was another BAD day as China’s market shudders riled every other market in the world.  While they were plunging, I had a pleasant day. 

Answered emails, ran errands and wrote out the first draft of my syllabus for my class that starts on the 20th.  It was actually kind of fun, if headache inducing.

Now it is evening and I have turned on the lights outside, classic jazz is playing and I think I will light a fire as it is going to be chill again tonight.

My Christmas tree is still up and I am not taking it down until Sunday.  Having been gone for two weeks, I feel I deserve a little more time with it.  It is a white artificial tree and I think this is its last year.  But it has been a beautiful, for me, tree.

Jamison Teale, the Senior Warden at Christ Church [where I attend services] and his longtime companion, James, were married on New Year’s Day by Hudson’s first woman mayor in her first official function.  They are coming for dinner on Saturday with the church’s Musical Director, Tom Martin, father to Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton of Hudson.

One of my errands today was to find them a small wedding present.

While James and Jamison married easily here in New York, the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, Roy Moore, has ordered that state’s probate judges not  issue marriage licenses to gay couples.  Federal authorities immediately ordered them to do so.  Some have thrown up their arms and aren’t giving marriage licenses to anyone.

Ah, Justice Moore, this has been decided.  No back pedaling allowed I think.

One probate judge, Tommy Ragland, summed it up best, saying, “We have a Chief Justice who is confused.”

One of the other errands I did today was to look for a clock radio to replace my ancient one that no longer works.  You know, they are rather hard to find.  Not nonexistent but hard to find.  I am going online to see what I can find there.

My toaster also broke and I looked at those too and thought they all looked shoddy.  More investigation needed.

It is the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  Let there be a moment of silence.

The French police killed a man brandishing a meat cleaver today, who was screaming “Allahu Akbar [God is Greatest].”  He was wearing a fake suicide vest.  That confuses me.  Why bother?

Oklahoma had a swarm of 70 earthquakes yesterday.  In 2013 they had a couple of hundred.  In 2014 they had over 5,000.  That is an exponential increase.  2015 statistics are currently being gathered.  There is a suspect:  fracking.

Earlier this week Netflix was available in 60 countries.  Today it is in 190 countries.  130 countries “turned on” Netflix while its President and CEO was giving a speech at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

I’ve attended a couple and they are always mind boggling.  This year is not quite so much according to pundits but still generating lots of wow.

Politics continues.  Bill Clinton is stumping for Hillary in Iowa.  Lots of people I know would like him back but since he can’t….

Cruz is cruising in Iowa which frightens the bejesus out of me. 

California is pummeled by storms and that worries me about friends there though I hope it is helping the drought.

In Burns, Oregon the unlawful occupation of a wildlife center continues.  On social media people have been asking what would be happening if the occupiers were black or Muslim instead of gun totting white guys who are outraged over Federal land policy?

There are no easy answers to anything.  Kerry says that the Saudi Arabia/Iran feud will not slow down the Syrian peace process but how can it not?  I mean, how can it not?

I am taking solace in the cottage and in my hope that our better angels will prevail.

Letter From New York 02 15 15 During the blistering cold…

February 15, 2015

Outside the sun is shining down brilliantly; a bright white light is cast down on the mounds of snow outside my windows. It looks warm and inviting. It is not. The temperature is minus nine, wind chill factor, and will continue to go lower as the day progresses. It is the most brutally cold winter I remember since I have been here and I have commented to many a friend: it’s Minnesota cold.

At times, I have wanted to depart and head to the tropics until it breaks. I dress in layers and my feet are always cold, despite wool socks and boots. But that is the way of this winter. Cold and coldly beautiful, it seems to be one for the record books.

This morning, I rose and went down to Christ Church in Hudson with some friends and then moved on to the Red Dot for brunch. When I left the church, my car was momentarily obscured by the blowing snow. It is that kind of day. While I was out, the driveway was plowed and the walk shoveled, for which I am grateful. Tomorrow I will head down to New York City so I can be in place for an early meeting on Tuesday.

While I organize my week, Denmark is struggling to recover from a young man, freshly out of prison, who killed two and wounded five. It was a bit of a copycat event, modeled after the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris. The supposed target in the first killing was a cartoonist, Lars Vik, who had satirized the Prophet Mohammed back in 2007 and has been under police protection ever since. The second victim was a young Jewish man who was acting as a volunteer security person at a Danish synagogue for a Bat Mitzvah.

In another act of brutality, the Libyan cohorts of ISIS have released a video purportedly showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians. They were singled out for their religion.

It sometimes feels like we are returning to the Middle Ages, when all sorts of heinous acts were justified in the name of religion. Certainly, those who claim allegiance to ISIS seem to be parading medieval characteristics of brutal killing for the sake of religion, not unlike the Christian Crusaders who rampaged through land after land in the late 11th Century, slaughtering Jews after they had paid Bishops for their safety. Eastern Orthodox Christians were also not immune from the wrath of the Crusaders. It was not a pretty time for Christianity and it has only been in the last few centuries that we have begun behaving civilly with each other. Perhaps someday the various branches of Islam will learn to live with each other and with us in a civil manner. But it is certainly not today.

In Ukraine the truce called for last night has slowed but not quelled the violence. Around the city of Debaltseve, a vital rail hub, there is still the sound of shelling. Other areas are seeing relief.

In Nigeria, a sixteen-year-old suicide bomber blew herself up at a crowded bus station, killing mostly children who were selling goods at the station. No one has yet claimed responsibility but it has the earmarks of Boko Haram. How does one get a sixteen-year-old girl to blow herself up?

Moving away from the violence wracking our world, there are rumors that Apple is considering building an electric car. I find this interesting – and not entirely improbable.

While I think I have it difficult with my blistering cold, I am not as unlucky as Boston, which has been hit with more snow and with brutal cold.

As I write this, the sun is beginning to set. Tonight on NBC there will be a 40th Anniversary Celebration of Saturday Night Live. A group of us are gathering to watch the event. It will be quite an event, probably a little raw and ragged at the edges, as the weekly show often is, and also probably full of magic moments, as the show regularly is.

Letter From New York 01 27 15 On the 70th Anniversary…

January 27, 2015

A light dusting of snow continues to fall but we did not have the major storm that was predicted; it veered at the last minute to the east, sparing both the city and Claverack. I’m still waiting for the plowman to come and do the drive but that’s minor compared to what might have been. All is calm.

The deer are scampering across the drive as I type, continuing their restless wanderings. Jazz plays on Pandora and I have a fire in the Franklin stove. It has been a lazy day. Trains weren’t running into the city this morning. It was, in effect, a snow day.

Sipping morning coffee, I read the Times and finished last week’s edition of The Week, my favorite magazine. In the afternoon, while doing some household things, a British mystery played. It seemed like that kind of day.

It is snowy and cold and winter desolate. Perhaps not unlike the January 27th of seventy years ago when Russian troops liberated Auschwitz. German soldiers were lining up prisoners about to gun them down when the warning came that the Russians were coming and they fled.

58,000 were forced on a death march from Auschwitz to other camps. 15,000 of them died before reaching other camps. Left behind were thousands deemed too ill or weak to walk.

Today, about 300 survivors of Auschwitz gathered in a white tent for ceremonies to mark the anniversary. The Presidents of France and Poland as well as the American Director, Steven Spielberg, of the famous Shoah Project, are joining them.

It is possibly the last major anniversary that will be attended by survivors of the camp; they are aging and passing from the scene. Many are in their 80’s now; the youngest in their 70’s. Soon time will have silenced their voices.

Let us hope the memory of what happened doesn’t fade and that we never again allow such things to happen.

But the signs aren’t good. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, perhaps now at the highest levels it has been since the end of World War II. Jews are leaving Europe at a faster pace than ever, frightened by the events around them. This was underscored during the Charlie Hebdo terrorist action in Paris where hostages were taken in a Jewish grocery store, with four being killed.

One of the stories I read today stated that Anti-Semitism is not returning to Germany; it never left. But there was a time when boys weren’t afraid to wear their yarmulkes and now some are.

90% of those who died at Auschwitz were Jews. The others were of Romani descent, political dissenters, homosexuals and others the Nazis hated. They hated extravagantly.

One survivor asked the question of how men could spend their days slaughtering human beings and then go home to their wives and children, eat dinner and listen to music? Because we are human beings, capable of extraordinary dichotomies, including the ability to do just that. Many days at Auschwitz 6,000 human beings were killed. In the end over 1.1 million died there, 15 square miles devoted to death. And those who did the killing went home at night and seemed to live normal lives. Is it possible? Yes, because it happened.

Letter From New York 01 16 15 Settling into a winter evening…

January 16, 2015

The setting sun is casting golden slashes of light across my snow-covered drive. The day is ending, a little later than yesterday. The days are growing slightly longer and I can see it, here at my desk, working, caught here almost every night about the time the sun begins to set. The cold-water faucet in my kitchen is set to drip continuously as a way to keep it from freezing again. The temperature tonight will fall again into negative territory, a sure danger place for the kitchen pipes.

While the temperature rose into the mid-20’s today, it felt much colder. That troublesome wind chill factor…

When I drove down into Hudson on an errand earlier, I found that Warren Street, which usually starts coming alive on Friday afternoons, was pretty deserted – people probably staying huddled in, as I have been doing. The Franklin Stove is helping warm the cottage; I have gone through most of the wood I have in the house and will have to haul in more tomorrow. For a while, big, puffy flakes of snow fell and I thought we might be in for a good snowfall but they didn’t last long and the forecast is for a chill but dry day tomorrow.

My work today was to edit some pages on my website and that I did, with more work to go. I have left my website go fallow these past months as I was doing a long consulting assignment. Have to spruce them up to reflect what I have been doing recently.

While I have been doing that, there was another hostage situation in Paris at a post office. No word yet that it was terror related or not. Cameron and Obama today announced they would take on the “poisonous ideology” of radical Islam. The Paris attacks against Charlie Hebdo have accelerated and focused the attention of governments.

Late this afternoon, while I was out doing my errands, SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] determined it would take on gay marriage. The world will watch. 70% of Americans now live in states where gay marriage is sanctioned. Something I never expected in my lifetime. I doubt anyone expected it would happen as quickly as it has over the last few years.

We live in an interesting world in which some rights, like gay marriage, are expanding while privacy is whittled away. In many ways, we are giving it up ourselves. Is there anything Facebook doesn’t know about us or that we haven’t confessed on Facebook? I’ve read some of the posts from my friends’ children and I wince. They admit things I wouldn’t publicly admit even now. It’s stunning how much I know about some of them, much which I don’t think I need to know. But they are of an age when they have no qualms about surrendering this kind of information. I don’t know whether to admire them or not but certainly I note their audacity.

Soft jazz plays in the background, a playful counterpoint to the encroaching evening. And while I listen to the jazz I peruse the news, which is interesting.

Elon Musk has committed ten million dollars to help stop a robot uprising in the future. Many leading thinkers and movers are getting nervous about the rise of AI and want to stop a “Terminator” scenario. I signed on online petition about it yesterday. God forbid an Arnold Schwarzenegger coming back from the future! He’s frightening enough as is.

And speaking of science fiction sorts of things, my favorite news posting of the day was from the International Space Station. Recently, there was an ammonia leak that forced everyone to get together in one module while the trouble was sorted out. While they were there, footage surfaced of a UFO flying by the space station. What it was, I don’t know. CBS aired it. Now you know about it.

Love stuff like that. So while UFO believers and doubters debate the footage, I am going to go add another log to my fire and curl up for a quiet evening in the country. Dinner with friends at their house and then some Netflix or Amazon Prime after.

A good evening, I’d say.

Letter From New York 01 16 15 From the safety of the cottage…

January 15, 2015

The sun has nearly set here in Claverack. The western sky is tinged with pink, which gives me hope for good weather tomorrow. It has been brutally cold here though not the kind of cold that has gripped the Midwest. I do my best to remember that when I am bitching about the cold. It is not as bad as the winters I spent growing up in Minnesota.

But cold enough that my cold water faucet in the kitchen seized up and refused to flow. All day I have been nursing it back to life with success finally coming around one this afternoon as I was settling down for a conference call. All day today the deer have been crossing in front of the window of my desk where I work. Going one way or another, they have crossed five or six times during the course of the day.

I was supposed to be in the city today but it seemed all my appointments had moved to next week. Except for the one I missed so I had to email a contrite apology because by the time I realized what I had done, no train could get me to the city in time for my appointment. I felt terrible.

While I have been sitting at my desk, the world has gone on its swirling ways. Reading the New York Times this morning with my morning coffee, I found myself falling into the stories of the day while feeling insulated from them by my presence at the cottage, far from the madding crowd.

The devastation caused by the most recent Boko Haram attacks is beginning to be known. Satellite photographs show whole villages wiped out and the enormity of that has been hidden by the attention paid to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. A young Muslim who was working in the kosher supermarket in Paris saved a number of hostages by putting them in the freezer and then making his own escape to tell the police what he knew. He will be rewarded with French citizenship.

There was a fascinating article I read online about the percentage of attacks that are actually made by Muslims against the number of terror acts committed over the course of a year. The author thought that Muslims were getting short shrift in the press, being blamed for more than their fair share of trouble. Perhaps they are getting the headlines while mainstream news ignores other terrorist acts.

During the afternoon, as I was doing emails and some research, the Belgians broke up a terrorist plot in Verviers, a town in the eastern part of Belgium. It is believed they were receiving their instructions from ISIS. Two people were killed in the raid and a third was taken into custody.

This is the drumbeat of our world. We have Islamists and separatists and God alone knows whom else wanting to create terror to achieve political goals. It probably has always been so but we now live in the interconnected age and so hear about everything, everywhere.

Sunnis and Shiites are massacring each other over a dispute that happened a thousand years ago. Can’t we get over it? I guess not. At least not yet.

So dark descends in Claverack. I will watch some of the Amazon Prime pilots that are premiering today. “Point of Honor,” a Civil War story caught my attention earlier today. As a member of the Producer’s Guild, I have been mailed a number of DVDs of current films and may watch “Into the Woods” tonight too.

I am settling down, into the coziness of the cottage, distancing myself from the drumbeat of chaos that is just beyond me, taking comfort in the deer that crisscross my property and in the geese that are inhabiting the creek outside my living room window. There is little I can do to alter the world outside. There is much I can do to make my world comfortable.

Letter From New York 01 14 15 In a world of contrasts…

January 14, 2015

Awaking to the bitter cold of the Hudson Valley, I ventured out and went down to the city today to have lunch with a friend, Nick Stuart, whom I had not seen for nearly a month. He had been in England for the wedding of his older daughter. When he returned, the mother of his partner, Lisa, took a turn for the worse and slipped toward death. He kept Lisa company while they watched her fade.

So it was great fun to see him today to thread together the weeks that had passed since last we saw each other. When I arrived in the city this morning, the first thing I noticed when I came up the escalator into Penn Station was the number of Amtrak police in the station. They were a swarm, complementing the armed soldiers and State Police.

It caused me to wonder if anything had happened that I wasn’t aware of. There had been a fire the day before in one of the tunnels serving the LIRR. Perhaps that was it. Or perhaps security has just been beefed up because of the Charlie Hebdo affair in Paris. It is my guess is that is the reason.

Charlie Hebdo underscored one of the great fears of security forces – hard to track lone terrorists determined on action. Also, this morning Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, saying it had planned and financed the brothers who committed the killings.

Perhaps it is my imagination but the folks on the subway seemed tenser today, quieter, a little more subdued, a bit more wary. Certainly I felt that way and did from the moment I stumbled into the swarm of Amtrak police at the top of my escalator ride.

Returning to Penn Station this afternoon, I was once again aware of the beefed up police presence. It caused me to sigh; it has been this way since 9/11. Some days I notice it more and some days less. And some days it is more. Today is one of those days. Nestled in the calm of the Acela Club, I await the train that will take me back to the country, to the little patch of country that is mine, to the calming influence of the trees and creek and the ever-present deer roaming the property.

Much of the news of the day still focuses on Charlie Hebdo and its aftermath with more attention being paid to the situation in Nigeria, the Boko Haram having killed a couple of thousand there while all eyes were on Paris.

Our rock star Pope is in Sri Lanka where he met with a multi-faith delegation, something that did not happen when John Paul II went there. Francis is off after this to the Philippines where he is expected to say Mass in front of a crowd of six million. To help with the potential sanitation problems, the Philippine government is encouraging people to wear Depends. They are issuing them to all the police. Practical, if not a bit disconcerting in concept. I learned that on Saturday listening to my favorite radio program, “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!”

We live in a world of stark contrasts. The Holy Father travels the world preaching peace and reconciliation while Jihadists evoke the Prophet to justify murder. In France and Germany there are marches to denounce Islam and to support it. Hundreds of thousands in France have carried signs that declared: Je Suis Charlie while others carried placards that declared: Je Suis Juif, I am Jewish. France has declared war on radical Islam and in New York there are more soldiers and police on the streets and in gathering places.

It is small wonder that I am pleased to go home tonight to the little cottage for a moment’s respite before I return again to the city, which I will do tomorrow or Monday.

Letter From New York 01 13 15 Nothing like friendship…

January 13, 2015

It is a little before three today and the sun has already started slipping away, still bright, causing shards of light to bounce off the ice lining the edges of the Hudson River as the train trundles north. I am headed home from the city for the night to attend the 60th birthday party of a friend. He is one of the owners of Ca’Mea, one of the best restaurants in Hudson and a favorite of mine.

It’s a surprise party and I’m looking forward to it. Roy and his wife, Nancy, have always been very good to me and I was in the crowd when they were married some years ago.

The waters of the Hudson are rough today, wind blown. A biting wind is blowing out of the north, pushing down the temperature.

To my right is the massive, multi-billion dollar project that is the building of the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge. The crane they are using was brought here from half a world away, through the Panama Canal and up the Hudson River where it now soars over the old bridge as well as the beginnings of the new one.

As I stare out at the water, I have been finding that I am very contemplative, quiet and thoughtful. Last night, a friend endured a bout of crankiness from me with great grace. I don’t often get cranky but I did and Robert did a wonderful job of listening to me and bringing me out of crankiness into a semblance of my normal self. It has caused me today to ruminate about the value of friendships such as his, where one can be messy and still appreciated. They’re rare and invaluable. And this is not always a world where friendship comes easily. So a tip of the hat to you, Robert Murray!

What if nations and religions could treat each other with friendship and love? We would have a different world than the one we have now. There would have been no Charlie Hebdo massacre nor would two thousand dead littler the Nigerian countryside after the latest assault by Boko Haram. But, alas, that is not the world we live in.

We live in a world where Rep. Randy Weber tweeted that Obama was worse than Hitler and then apologized for it. And Mike Huckabee has blasted Barak and Michelle for allowing their daughters to listen to Beyoncé. I’m not thick skinned enough to be a politician. I like peace and camaraderie too much.

Speaking of politics, David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, seems to be promising that if he is reelected, MI5, their version of the CIA, will be able to read all emails. He’s making it sound like this is a good thing. Snapchat and Whatsapp could find themselves banned in Britain. It feels creepy to me.

In the face of OPEC refusing to slow down production, oil prices continue to skid, which in turn is causing the market to slide. Seems counterintuitive to me. I would think low oil would be good for the global economy but apparently not. One of the ministers of the U.A.E. said earlier today that those who have more expensive operations should curtail their production, like the folks in North Dakota. His statements fit in well with one of the theories behind why OPEC is not slowing production. OPEC might want those pesky folks off the oil scene.

Ah, it is so complicated out there. Personally, I am looking forward to a good birthday party tonight, hometown joys and friendly laughs in a good celebration. There’s nothing like friendship.

Letter From New York 01 12 15 Venturing back to the city…

January 12, 2015

Last night, I returned to New York City to have dinner with a friend, David, who was in town from Delaware. It was interesting stepping off the train and throwing myself into the mild mayhem that is Penn Station, so much grittier and grim than Grand Central Station.

There is always, now, a moment when I take a deep breath before plunging in to the swarm. Really, it is an assault on the senses. Parts of the station seem to be falling apart. Tarps lined one of the ceilings to keep rain from falling on our heads, I guess.

Meeting David at his hotel, we went just a half block to Angus’ in the Theater District and had a meal and a drink and a good catch-up. As I don’t have cable either at home or at the little apartment in New York, I watched the Golden Globes with David. The moment that stood out to me was in George Clooney’s acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award. He said something to the effect that everyone in the room had managed to grab the brass ring, they were inside the tent and getting to do what they wanted. And it is true, people in that room, for the most part, had grabbed the brass ring. Good for him for saying so.

This morning when I left the apartment building, William, the daytime doorman, reminded me it was raining outside. I thanked him for the warning but ventured out without an umbrella. I had forgotten that all the umbrellas are at the cottage. It was a wet, chill day in New York, grey and somber, streets slick with rain and everyone a little damp and miserable.

In contrast to the bucolic setting of the cottage, the city makes it easy to be reminded of all the things happening in the world. Sirens blare, ambulances screech through the streets, police cars race from one point to the next, lights all rotating madly, enough to give one an attack of some sort. Here it is possible to feel close to the chaos that was Paris last week.

Sitting waiting for an appointment, CNN Breaking News as well as the BBC announced that ISIS had hacked into the twitter account of Centcom, the US Military Command. I wondered if we had moved into the era of total cyber warfare? Centcom defined the attack as cyber-vandalism. When does vandalism cross into being an attack?

I feel less dispassionate in the city. The world is very close to you. The reality of trouble is only a fingertip away. Winding my way through the streets and traversing the subway, I felt a greater need to be alert, to be a bit more careful. Part of me wanted to slip away as quickly as I could, to once again bathe in the calm of the cottage. I am here tonight, gone tomorrow and then back again on Wednesday for a dinner meeting. I’ll stay, probably, the rest of the week. It will be interesting to see how I adapt to city life again after so much time in the country.

Letter From New York 01 11 15 While they marched in Paris…

January 11, 2015

Riding on Amtrak back to the city, the Hudson River is more heavily iced than it was just a few days ago. Once again, it is steel grey as is the whole world, grey and overcast, not bathed in the golden light of yesterday.

On the train I usually ride in the café car; it has been years since the trains running between Albany and New York have had an active café car. Sitting with me are two friends I have made through the train, Kathleen and Arthur, who have a small farm on the west side of the Hudson, outside of Catskill.

We met on the train some years ago, taking the same Sunday train back into the city. We had a tradition of bringing along leftovers from the weekend and making a picnic of the ride into New York. With food and a good bottle of wine, the trip always evaporated.

Then I started not going back on Sundays, waiting until Monday mornings and, while not riding the Sunday picnic train, we have remained friends and we have partied since off the train. We’re all headed back early this Sunday because we have dinners in the city.

Arthur is headed to Paris next week for a culinary tour of the City of Lights. Naturally our talk turned to Charlie Hebdo and the march that took place there today. Millions marched for solidarity; lead by the French President Hollande, who was joined by British Prime Minister David Cameron and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. Also there was Netanyahu of Israel as well as Abbas of Palestine, the President of Ukraine and the Foreign Minister of Russia, all putting their differences aside long enough to join this march, equal parts of sorrow and defiance. With no speeches, just presence.

Back in Germany, Hamburger Morgenpost printed some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and was firebombed.

Some are saying that this event has ripped the soul of France the way 9/11 seared the soul of the United States, a fundamental change occurring in the fabric of society.

Obama is calling for a “Counterterrorism Summit” is Washington in February.

Ah, the clouds have parted and some sunlight slips through, causing flecks of light to bounce off the icy waters of the Hudson.

It is impossible to know where the road is leading at anytime. But the situation we face with radical Islam seems particularly knotty. Is it, as Arthur suggested earlier, a result of poverty? Or does radical Islam offer a route away from oppressive governments? Or is it that we are seeing the beginning of an Islamic Reformation which promises to be as violent as the Christian Reformation? Any of these is probably too simple an answer for the most complex question of our time and reality is a mixture of all of these and more.

Each day will be played out and we will move irrevocably into the future and the future will unfold. In the meantime, three million took to the streets in Paris in some effort to express feelings that must seem inchoate.

When 9/11 happened, the streets of New York were eerily quiet and the world seemed in a daze. It will be interesting to speak with Arthur when he returns to see if Paris is the same.

Letter From New York 01 09 15 Glad to be living in a peaceful place…

January 9, 2015

To the east of me, a family of deer have gathered, huddled together, perhaps against the cold though it was warmed considerably since the plunge of two nights ago. To the south of me, on the creek, are gathered hundreds of geese that have made their first appearance on Claverack Creek in at least year.

Once was that there would be some geese there year round with a massing of them in the fall. Then they went away, just gone. It confused all of us in the neighborhood. Rosemary, one of my neighbors, phoned me of an afternoon to ask me if I had geese on the creek? No, they’ve gone. She told me they were gone from the pond, too; the first time in her forty years of coming to Claverack that there were no geese.

Coming home from the city last yesterday to see if my pipes had frozen, I arrived back in the light and to my amazement found my creek populated again with geese, noisy and rambunctious and almost as plentiful as ever.

This morning, to my great surprise, I woke to find four inches of fluffy white snow on the ground transforming our little circle once again to a winter wonderland. It was deep enough the snowplow came to dig me out. It felt good to wake to the clean and bright countryside.

As I was waking to the geese and fluffy white, two hostage dramas were being played out in Paris. A man held hostages in a kosher market while the Kouachi brothers, suspects in the Charlie Hebdo killings, were holed up, ironically enough, in a printing company. The man at the kosher market claimed he had coordinated his efforts with the brothers.

The man at the market claimed he was with ISIS, which, I think, is normally at odds with the group the Kouachi brothers were involved with, Al Qaeda in Yemen. I guess terror makes for strange bedfellows.

As I sometimes do when news is breaking, I went to twitter to see it unfold in almost real time. And while looking at the twitter feed and reading rapidly updated articles, I was sitting at my window, looking out at the snowy landscape and feeling distanced from the murder and mayhem in Paris.

Wednesday I had dinner with my friend David Wolf, a lawyer in New York, who also has a house in Connecticut, far out of town, surrounded by acres of land. We discussed the perspective being in nature seems to put on the news, how it softens the hard edges of the headlines.

It is quiet here; the only occasional sound is the snowplows clearing the street and the constant chatter of the geese. Quiet and peaceful in Claverack while half a world away there is chaos. I suppose it has always been like this, that there is peace and quiet in most places while others erupt in spurts of violence.

I am delighted I live in one of the peaceful spots where I can watch the sun slowly set in the west, a slight tinge of pink in the sky, a harbinger of better weather tomorrow. May the weather be better and may there be an outbreak of peace tomorrow, too.