Posts Tagged ‘Euro Zone’

Letter From New York 01 25 15 Acts of men and weather must be left to others…

January 25, 2015

Waking early, sunlight danced off the creek while the geese sailed up it, as if there were no concerns in the world. All day, it was bright and sunny. Now, as I sit down to write, the light is beginning to fade and the temperature is about to plummet. Another storm is on its way, threatening inches of snow and deep cold.

As I usually do, the day started with coffee and the NY Times.

The Greeks went to the polls today and, as the day ends, it appears that the Anti-Austerity Party is going to win the day. No one has been hurt more in the west than the Greeks by the recession. They have depression levels of unemployment and social programs have been cut back; the Euro Zone has imposed harsh measures on the country. It has been a brutal period. Suicides became more common and an air of despair settled on the country.

Now, they seem to be saying: we’re not taking it anymore! If the anti-austerity party has won, there will be shaking across Europe. Lots of people in Spain and Italy are tired of austerity, too. The French aren’t so keen either. This will embolden their movements.

Antipathy runs particularly high toward Germany, the largest economy in the Euro Zone and mother hen to austerity as a way of life.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the morning. Will the markets across the world panic? This is exactly what they didn’t want. Alexis Tsipras is head of the Syriza party, which is anti-austerity. To actually govern he may have to become more centrist and he may not have won a clear majority so he’d have to create a coalition government, for which some are hoping.

But this is a turning point and there will be fraught days ahead for Greece and for Europe, with financial tensions high. Hopefully everyone will keep their heads and wits about them.

Greece, poor Greece, could end up significantly worse if things don’t get played correctly.

While Greece teeters on the edge, Obama is in India to cement relations with that country. From there he goes to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects at the passing of King Abdullah, who, from some reports, couldn’t stand Obama. But appearances must be kept.

In Nigeria, the Boko Haram has started an offensive against the major city in the Northeast, Maiduguri. Secretary Kerry is in Lagos, the commercial capital, visiting with the current President and his chief rival in upcoming elections, about how to deal with the Boko Haram. While we are closely watching ISIS as they try to establish their “Caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram is attempting to do the same thing in Nigeria and they are just as deadly and cruel as the fighters of ISIS.

And that is all far away; here the deer are roaming the yard and the fading light is being reflected off the snow. The blizzard watch is being upgraded to a blizzard warning and I can feel the temperature dropping. It is now developing into a major – if not historical – storm with potentially two feet of snow coming for the city and here. The Mayor of New York is saying it may be the worst in the history of the city. Blimey!

In a fun bit for today: 100 years ago the first transcontinental phone call was made between Alexander Graham Bell in New York and his former lab assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco, 39 years after their famous first call. Added to the call were the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, and the President of AT&T, Theodore Vail. So it was also the first conference call.

In the not too distant future, a martini awaits and I will focus on other things. There is little I can do about the impending Greek crisis and less that I can do about the Boko Haram. I will leave them to other, hopefully wiser, men.  And both them and the weather to God.

Letter From New York February 8, 2010

February 8, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

Every year for the last ten years or so, come the end of January, the beginning of February, documentary and non-fiction film makers descend upon Washington, DC for the annual Real Screen conference, a gathering that started as a conference and which has morphed into a market – a place to buy and sell non-fiction ideas, meet and greet, have non-stop meetings, eat and drink, back-slap, and party, see old friends, make new ones, feel connected to the business that consumes one’s life.

From the producers of Mystery Quest to the producers of John and Kate Plus Eight, they’re there. Ben Silverman, former head of programming at NBC, gave a keynote as did Abbe Raven, CEO of A&E Networks, which includes History Channel. If you are in the non-fiction film business it was the place to be.

At the end of the day, I still think what programmers are looking for in non-fiction boils down to this: networks are looking for larger than life characters who are in unique situations [preferably life threatening] that will give an embarrassing amount of access to their lives. If you have that, you have a good shot at a series.

While I was backslapping, eating and drinking, doing non-stop meetings, the world continued on its merry pace. If you call a financial crisis spreading across the southern part of the Euro Zone “merry.” Greece is in trouble, Spain and Portugal not far behind with Ireland beginning to look like a southern European country, at least financially. Toyota became even more mired in recall drama, its credibility damaged. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came out for an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, a stance reinforced by Colin Powell, who announced he agreed with Admiral Mullen, saying times had changed since he had sat in that seat.

And while the world was moving on, as the deficit was mounting, as Greece tottered on the edge of default, while the fate of gays and lesbians in the military was again being debated, while the world continued its news making, I took a couple of days off to visit friends and family, a trip that reminded me of many of the good things about life – good people, who are part of your life, who have been and will be. I visited with my brother, soon off to Honduras to provide medical care to those who have none, with my lovely cousin Virginia, who has been a beacon of kindness my whole life, as well as her sister Marion, my friend Christine Olson, whom I have known since I was a sophomore in college, elegant as ever, real as always, my old friend Kevin Rozman, a friendship from high school days that has been revitalized since we re-encountered each other several years ago.

It was the perfect capstone from a week where I was surrounded by all kinds of people I know and love, first at the conference and then in my flying visit back to the land of my birth, for a few moments basking in the glow of friends and family, who are so important, particularly in a world as uncertain as the one in which we find ourselves…