Posts Tagged ‘Gulf Oil Spill’

Letter From New York August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The past weekend was one of indolence for me. Friday evening when I returned to the cottage, the air was clean and crisp, perfectly balanced in temperature. I threw open all the windows and allowed the air to flow through, a soft wind billowing in the scent of the woods and the creek from below the cottage. I watched a bit of television, read more of Sherlock Holmes, this time off the iPad, on loan from the office. I slept a deep, clear sleep, waking early and rolling over to once again surrender to Morpheus.

As sleep found me on Friday night, I determined to let the weekend be a small vacation. It had been a harried week. The mobile app had launched on Droid but we still wait for iPhone and Blackberry approval. There had been a meeting of channel editors, from all over the country, churning through ideas, one after another for the future. So when morning came on Saturday, a day stretched in front of me with no commitments other than the whim of the moment. I did a few things around the house, stopped at the dry cleaners on my way to town, picked up the weekend papers and settled in to a long leisurely brunch at the Red Dot, lingering in the lovely garden, warming in the sun, reading of the events of the world from which I felt far removed, safely, for a moment, insulated and protected.

It was an illusion, of course, but one I immersed myself in – for a moment wanting to be like friends who have ceased reading newspapers or scanning news websites or listening to anything but music on radio or net. I am not that person though and I found myself deep in the New York Times and my current edition of The Week, seeking some illumination in the words on paper, seeking to understand the ebb and flow of the violence that wracks the world we inhabit, seeking in that sun kissed garden the reason why one person would strap explosives on and then go detonate themselves in the middle of a crowd of strangers. Suicide is at least somewhat comprehensible, mass murder is not.

Deep out in the once pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it appeared BP had staunched the leaking well. I swished flies away as I sat lazily on the teak bench on the patio, thinking about the rapacious need for oil that has resulted in our digging deeper and deeper in every accessible [and almost inaccessible] spot on earth to keep our machines rolling, wondering, lazily, why we have waited so long to seek alternatives? Perhaps because we are as lazy as I was Saturday afternoon, content to let things be than to expend energy to make changes? Do we, like the Louis XV, sit in our gardens and shrug, “Après moi, le deluge…”

And now that the well has been capped and it appears that ecological damage is less than feared, our collective media attention seems to be drifting away from the Gulf and on to…what? We wait to see what new events the digital throngs will next flock to follow, praising or bemoaning. On Saturday, I was only curious. There was nothing on the horizon that seemed the next frenzy in waiting. We have not excited ourselves about Pakistan’s floods or China’s landslides.

It seems the way we live, from frenzy to frenzy. But frenzy seemed far away this past bucolic weekend, devoted to laziness and indolence. From the Dot I wandered Warren Street, sat with friends in their shops and discussed the summer heat and the pleasant relief the day was giving. I lingered at Olde Hudson, the perfect place for cheeses, pastas, wonderful meats and fishes and took in the steady stream of shoppers, stocking up for a lovely summer evening and when I finally went home, I slipped between the cotton sheets and once again felt the soft summer embrace of my little world, far away, for the moment, from all the madness that makes the world so often threatening, preventing us, at times, from the lazy glory that is around us some of the time, at least.

Letter From New York June 27, 2010

June 27, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

The huzz-a-buzz this past week has been almost all about the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, who, if you somehow have missed this, said (as did a number of his staff) many uncomplimentary things about White House staff and some diplomats and said them while a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine was taking notes – a supremely stupid thing for a very, very smart man to do. He was summoned back to Washington, arriving with his resignation in his pocket, which was accepted. He was replaced by David Petraeus; arguably the most respected military man in the country right now.

To my shock, an article in the New York Post actually praised the President for doing this. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know the New York Post, it is owned by News Corp which is run by Rupert Murdoch and is generally very, very, very critical of President Obama. As far as the Post is generally concerned, the President can’t sneeze correctly.

It has been the biggest military/civilian clash since Harry Truman sacked General MacArthur during the Korean War [which, by the way, started 60 years ago this past week] for criticizing the President to Congress. I kept wondering what McChrystal had been thinking when he allowed this to happen. From what I have read about the man, he is very smart, very tough, a very good commander – but this wasn’t a smart thing to do and, unfortunately, Obama felt he had no choice but to fire the General. What the pundits have said is that replacing McChrystal with Petraeus was brilliant and that out of this sad mess Obama has been looking more like a Commander in Chief than before – hence at least some praise from The New York Post.

While this was playing out, the Gulf Oil Spill continued to gush. Obama spoke from the Oval Office and at the end of his speech referenced the Blessing of the Fleet that happens in the Gulf Coast, praying that God will protect the fisherman about to embark. It was held again this year, not so long ago. Obama talked a bit about prayer at the end of his speech and the way it has been going, prayer may be the best bet we’ve got. It seems sometimes that it will take a miracle of some kind to turn this around.

I’ve been told by friends in religious occupations that some have seen the Gulf Coast Spill as the harbinger of the End Times. Though I think that any event can be and has been construed as a harbinger of The End Times. Seems to me that we have been in The End Times according to someone almost since the moment Christ ascended into heaven.

Though not really religious I do pray in my own ways and will extend the Gulf Coast and the eco-disaster there to the things I sent heavenward to my personal Higher Power. I will remember it more when I pause and speak to God. We might all do well to do that if we’re so inclined…

If there are religious/spiritual people at Google, I am sure they are sending their thanks up to heaven as a Judge in New York dismissed the billion dollar lawsuit that Viacom had filed against You Tube, a Google company, for posting hundreds of thousands of copyrighted clips. The Judge declared Google/You Tube covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and therefore not at fault. Now if you don’t know what the DMCA is all about basically, as I understand it, it says that if you’re a website like You Tube and someone posts copyrighted material to your site, you’re not liable for copyright infringement if you take it down as soon as you are alerted to it. Which the judge decided Google/You Tube had done and so it was in the clear. Viacom has announced it will appeal. However the Judge’s decision is powerfully important and is cause for great celebration in Googledom. As I said, I’m sure that those who pray are saying thank you to their Higher Power.

Letter From New York June 20, 2010

June 20, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I worked through things at the office on Friday, I saw online that Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, had been removed from the frontline of dealing with the oil spill. His gaffes finally caught up with him. In front of Congress on Thursday he was accused of not taking responsibility and evading questions. He didn’t play well, not in Congress and apparently not in his own company and now the odds makers are taking bets on how long he will survive at BP.

The oil is, of course, still gushing and, according to revised estimates, gushing at rates far greater than previously estimated, a rate that keeps going up and up, discouragingly so, day after day, week after week.

There is the Gulf Oil disaster and new questions about our direction in Afghanistan even as reports are circulated about the potential mineral wealth there; some question the timing of this announcement since there has been knowledge of these deposits all the way back to the time when the Soviets were attempting to subdue the country.

An American teenager was attempting to be the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe ran into trouble in the Indian Ocean and had to be rescued. Her parents took a beating in the press for letting her pursue this dream – but the real problem may have been they had been attempting to sell a television program based on her quest. It didn’t play well.

The Israelis are still sorting the fallout from their actions stopping a Turkish flotilla that wanted to break the blockade of Gaza. There is talk of lightening the blockade as it is not playing as well as it had been.

The World Cup is playing out and Americans are paying more attention to it than ever before, particularly after the lucky tie of the US vs. Britain. Had lots of folks in my office excited. In more places than ever before, the World Cup is on the television, background in some bars and restaurants, catering to the growing numbers invested in the sport. It is playing well.

These are world events, playing out on the world stage, the affairs that shape the headlines and the national discourse. But in my life, and in the lives of all of us, these are the backdrop to our lives, to getting up in the morning, having coffee, plotting the day and then reacting to the things that happen to us, making sense of the “ordinary” developments we face in our own lives – the tensions in the office, the loss of those we know and love when they pass, the pressure of being in Place A at Time B for a meeting about C.

All of that hit me on Thursday when I learned that Andy Doyle, my sister-in-law’s brother, whom I have known since I was twelve, about my age, lost his fight to a rare brain ailment. He was a good kind man, a former priest, who came to celebrate Thanksgiving with me a few years ago, full of wry jokes and witticisms and intelligent conversation. His passing will not be splashed on front pages and, like most of us, will not effect world events but for those of us who knew and loved him he will be missed and a hole has opened in our worlds. The great events play out as backdrop to our ordinary lives, “small” according to the Chairman of BP, but central to our lives and more important immediately to our lives than the faraway front-page headline events. It is how it plays in real time, in real life.

And playing out in real time today, Sunday, is Father’s Day – the day when families honor the central man in their lives, the man who helped conceive them and who nurtured them [it is hoped]. For those whose fathers have gone, like mine, it is a time to recall, remember, re-evaluate perhaps, understanding that central character through more experienced eyes. It is a day to celebrate and to treasure. It is a time to play well with those we love. Happy Father’s Day.