Posts Tagged ‘Costa Concordia’

Letter From New York 02 11 15 A bit of chaos here and there…

February 11, 2015

As I ride south into the city, the Hudson River to my right is ice bound, with bright light glittering off the frozen surface of the river. The journey into the city was precipitated by a couple of meetings, one of which has already been cancelled while I was boarding the train. My friend Rita’s plane from DC was cancelled and she is rushing to the train station to get the next train.

After many bad experiences, I am skeptical about the wisdom of doing anything but training between Washington and New York.

My train is bumping along as it works its way to New York. It arrived late in Hudson because of equipment trouble but only by thirty minutes. The equipment is suffering from the cold and hence the ride is rockier than usual. I can feel it in my back.

The world of television has been rocked in the last twenty-four hours.

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show for the last fifteen years, announced yesterday that he would be departing the program this year, as early as July or as late as December, but he is leaving.

It is a double blow for Comedy Central, which also lost Stephen Colbert this year to CBS where he is taking over late night duties for David Letterman. The network has indicated The Daily Show will continue and there is scrambling to find a replacement for him.

Scrambling is also going on over at NBC. Steven Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, paid a visit to Brian Williams yesterday and informed him that he was going to be suspended without pay for the next six months. It may be the beginning of the end of Williams’ career. Twitter has tweets that NBC is now looking into his expense reports and investigating the veracity of other stories that Mr. Williams has told about his in-field experiences.

As I write this, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are huddling in Minsk, Belarus, in an effort to find some political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. There are rumors of some progress, but sides still seem far apart. More than 5,300 have lost their lives. Somewhere between 1.2 million and 1.5 million have been made refugees.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Lavrov, has commented that there has been “noticeable progress.” Interpretation: Russia is getting closer to what it wants, I guess. Ms. Merkel of Germany holds out slim hope but will continue to walk the diplomatic path in honor of the civilians who have died.

Hundreds of refugees from Africa are believed to have died in an attempt to reach Italy, joining the thousands who have already drowned in the last years, trying to cross the Mediterranean, hoping to find a better life in Europe.

Three Muslim adult students were gunned down in Chapel Hill, SC. It may have been a hate crime or it may have been a parking dispute. Either way, a tragedy.

Obama has asked for war authorization against ISIS. He used interesting phrasing, with the plan barring “enduring offensive combat operations.” It is to last three years. Speaker Boehner quickly criticized the plan and indicated there would be Congressional changes.

A little over three years ago, the cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground off an Italian island and 32 people lost their lives. Today, just moments ago, its Captain, Francesco Schettino, was found guilty of manslaughter. He faces 26 years in prison. He was also accused, and found guilty of, abandoning his passengers to save himself.

It was said that when the Costa Concordia hit the rocks, there was chaos. In Alabama today there is a bit of judicial chaos. The Supreme Court refused to put a stay on gay marriage in Alabama and that should have been the end of it. But gay couples can only get married in parts of Alabama today as some judges refuse to carry out ceremonies. An Alabama female minister was arrested on disorderly conduct charges after offering to conduct a same sex wedding. She is in jail.

Alabama has a long history of fighting orders from the Federal Courts. It will be interesting to watch how all this plays out.

Far enough south now, the Hudson River flows freely at the center. The train is approaching New York City. The equipment, however, has not thawed out and I will be glad to end the bumpy ride.

Letter From New York July 27, 2014

July 27, 2014

Letter From New York

Or, as it seems to me…

It is a mercilessly grey day in Claverack. A medium hard rain falls outside the cottage and far away thunder rattles the skies. It is a drear day; so dark it is actually hard to see to the end of my property.

It is the flip side of yesterday, so lusciously beautiful that it caused a heart to ache – perfect skies, perfect temperature, a day lazed away in idle pursuits, antique shopping on Hudson’s Warren Street, a leisurely stroll through the little Farmer’s Market, then reading on the deck while the creek languidly slipped by on its way to the pond. It was a splendid afternoon. The wind caused the tall branches to brush against one another, their rustling the music of the afternoon. The reflections of light on the creek with the stirring of the water by the breeze resulted in thoughts of pointillism.

This austere day is made for contemplation. It cries for thought as I stare out the window by my desk, on the rain-drenched drive of the cottage, casting my mind out into the world.

It is hardly prettier out there this week; the Ukrainian crisis still unfolds. Body parts still apparently lie in the debris field of MH17, most certainly brought down by a missile. Putin seems to be doubling down on supporting the pro-Russian rebels. Two doctors leading the fight against Ebola have contracted the disease. I cannot tell from this morning’s headlines if there is or is not a temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The ill-fated Costa Concordia reached its final resting spot. The United States has evacuated the embassy in Libya because of escalating violence. The Taliban reclaim tracts of Afghanistan. The Boko Haram have kidnapped the wife of the Vice Prime Minister of Cameroon. Forest fires plague the drought stricken state of California with no rain in the forecast. An Air Algerie flight fell from the sky over Mali.

The litany of the world’s trials and travails could go on and on. They are enough to cause us to climb into our bunkers and hunker down for the duration. And that may be a bit of what I do when I retreat to the cottage and indulge in the beauty that surrounds me. If I focus too much on the world an existential ennui falls upon me and I feel I cannot breathe.

For all the dark things happening in the world, there was still laughter on the street yesterday. Hot dogs were purchased from Rick’s stand at 6th and Warren. Ice cream cones were being consumed from Lick, farther down Warren. Little children careened down the street, chased after by parents. Newborns rode in carriages. People find jobs and sit down for meals. The world keeps going on and, in that, I find solace.

It is like this moment, when suddenly the rain stopped and the sun burst through the clouds to dapple the land with its light. The earth abides, hope survives.