Posts Tagged ‘Islamic State’

Letter From Claverack 10 18 2016 On the cusp…

October 18, 2016

The day is diminishing; the sunset flickers through the turning leaves, a panorama of burnished gold in the west.  Classical music plays in the background and a soft wind is blowing through this, the last great weather day we will probably have until spring unfolds over Claverack Creek.  It was 86 degrees today with a cloudless sky and a fall wind in a warm day.

Once I recall a day like this when I was very young.  It is the kind of day that holds intimations of immortality.  Tonight’s sunset reminds me of the brilliant ones I witnessed on trips to Santorini, up at Franco’s Bar, poised over the caldera, thinking that in the sunset I understood the hold Greek myth has had over us for twenty-five centuries or more.

Once, at Franco’s, I wrote a poem on that and now have no idea where it is.  But I remember the moment, sitting there, pen scratching in my notebook as the golden sun turned the waters in the caldera its ripe color.

We are in the cusp of fall and summer has reached out to hold us one day more in its warm embrace, harkening us to remember its feel so we will wait, patiently, for its return in another new year.

2017

Who would have thought? Certainly in my youth I never thought that year would see me inhabit it.  Yet chances are I’ll be here when it comes marching in or crawling in or bursting upon us.

Soon there will be an election and someone new will move into the White House.  If it is Hillary, she’ll have been there but in a very different role now than then.  If it is Donald Trump, it will, perchance, signal a new and different age in our political history.

Time will tell.  Tomorrow is the next debate and I will watch, though not waiting breathlessly for it.  But I will watch.  It is “must see” TV for me this season.

The tree tops are swaying in the wind; the burnished gold has become the color of smoky topaz.  Twilight is descending.

Iraqi troops are marching toward Mosul, meeting, as expected, fierce resistance from IS.  Some Iraqis, in a scene that reminded me of tales of our Civil War, went onto a mountain side to watch the battle unfold beneath them.

IS intends to hold Mosul at any cost and if it loses it, to make it a humanitarian disaster.  The word that crosses my mind as I type is “barbarian.”

Iraqis remaining in the city have become bolder in their resistance of late to IS, supplying Iraq with vital information.  IS is killing anyone found attempting to leave the city.

When I was with the Internet start-up, Sabela Media, Yahoo was the industry behemoth.

Its revenue declined again this quarter and Verizon is asking for a reduction in price to buy it because of the hacking scandal.

Because they were known as bullies in the early years, I have always found it hard to be empathic though it is sorry to see a once great company slowly self-immolate.  And from people I know who are dealing with them currently, some within Yahoo just can’t accept what is happening now.  Ostriches with their heads in the sand…

Dark has descended and I am sitting at the table on the deck, with candlelight for illumination, listening to the classical music but also listening to the sounds of woodland creatures making their noises.

It is very special tonight.  The world is swinging in its orbit, momentous things are happening and as they are happening, there are the sounds of birds in the night, classical music and, because of them, a murmur of hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

Letter From New York 10 14 15 A toxic brew in a seething cauldron…

October 14, 2015

Obama. Biden. Greene County. Indianapolis. Minneapolis. Baltimore. Syria. Russia. Putin. Assad. Refugees. Turkey. The Kurds. Al Qaeda. Saudi. Yemen.

I’m sitting here at my desk at the cottage, looking out at the drive, littered with leaves. The world around me has become a riot of color and I passed by crimson trees on my way west to an appointment on the far side of Greene County, flaming to the sky against a grey horizon.

Most of the day has been like that, grey and forlorn, right for this time of year, the time of year a year ago when I determined I would write more frequently even though I mailed the letters less. They are up on Facebook and LinkedIn and at my website, www.mathewtombers.com.

Monday evening, rather late, I returned from two weeks of traveling. Baltimore, New York, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and when I opened the door of the cottage I was flooded with relief at being home and in the safe sanctuary of the little world I have built here.

For two weeks I mostly avoided the news but it has been catching up with me in the last 48 hours, the strum und drang of the world wails on.

By the hundreds of thousands, humans are throwing themselves on the shores of Europe, fleeing ravaged homelands. Half the population of Syria is on the move, internally, externally with more and more attempting to reach Europe. The size of the movement of humans is almost incomprehensible to me.

And there is a toxic mix brewing in this horrible cauldron.

There is IS, Assad, Putin, Turkey, the US, the Kurds, the non-Al Qaeda anti-Assad forces, the Al Qaeda anti-Assad forces, the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Saudis and Yemenis and all sorts of forces and individuals leading them all wanting to defeat someone but not necessarily the same person.

Turkey is complaining we have given arms to the Syrian Kurds. We’re complaining that Russia isn’t targeting IS but forces against Assad that aren’t IS. It is nearly impossible to keep the players straight. The Russians and the US have different outcomes in mind in Syria.

And all the while that the players play, the human condition continues to deteriorate and so millions begin the long journey from somewhere hellish to somewhere less hellish.

It is hard to imagine here in my cossetted corner of the world with the leaves turning and deer roaming the street, slowly sauntering as if there was not a concern in the world.

I feel concern for the world and am struggling with the best way to address it. What does one do in a world that is coming unhinged?

Not long ago I read a great book, “The End of Your Life Book Club.” A woman in her seventies has spent her life in public service and when diagnosed with cancer was running an agency dealing with refugees. She got the diagnosis after return from a camp in Afghanistan. She and her son read and compare books while she is treated with chemo.

It inspires me. As does my brother who is off to Honduras next week to train doctors on some equipment his little organization donated to a hospital there.

Smiling out at the woods, I am hoping the sum of small good gestures will one day overwhelm the acts of evil.

Letter From New York 06 24 15 But it looked good in the movies…

June 24, 2015

It is a sunny day in New York City, the temperature is in the 80’s but the air is not sodden with humidity, as it was yesterday. Pleasant enough, with breezes, that I walked a mile to the restaurant where I met a friend, Guy McCarter, that I hadn’t seen in some years. It was nice, in that we picked up again as if no time had passed at all. We visited and then he headed to a meeting and I sauntered back to Todd’s office.

Tonight I am meeting a friend at 5:30 at the Blue Bar at the Algonquin Hotel, home of the “Round Table” back in the 30’s, and then to dinner with another friend at Nirvana, then home to read I suspect.

Last night, I stayed up too late finishing Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop,” a funny book about the newspaper business pre World War II.

Joseph J. O’Donahue IV, who I had the great pleasure of knowing, was born in 1912 and passed away 88 years later. He was a great bon vivant, considered one of the best looking men of his generation, and sailed, mostly, through life with grace and elegance.

Mismanaged trust funds left him hard up at the end of his life but he carried on with huge style and was a fixture on the San Francisco social circuit.

He declared that civilization had ended with World War II.

I don’t know that is true but certainly sometimes it seems that on some levels the world was more civil then.

Treatment of blacks was worse in this country. Joe once brought Josephine Baker, the African American dancer who had wowed France, to El Morocco in New York and was turned away. He never returned to the Club. If Josephine wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t either.

Now that I think about it, it wasn’t so terribly civilized then but it sure looked good in the movies.

There were the Nazis. And there had been the “War to End All Wars,” which was merely a prelude to the big show, World War II. Joe was asked to leave Germany by Adolf Hitler after protesting the arrests of Jewish friends.

And there had been the Great Depression, not a good time for anyone.

No, civilization didn’t end with World War II, a new age opened up.

And that new age, in which we live, isn’t particularly pretty either. IS militants blew up a couple of tombs in Palmyra yesterday. They were about 500 years old and held the remains of important Shia. IS is, you see, Sunni. They have also mined the classical ruins to discourage any efforts to take them back.

Palmyra was a place that was on my bucket list. It will probably have to stay in the bucket. In interesting news, if not a media stunt, is that Lexus is developing a hoverboard like the one used by Marty McFly in “Back to the Future.” They plan to test it out in Barcelona in the next few weeks. I’ll be following.

The Queen [Elizabeth II of Great Britain] is visiting Germany. While there, a small robot performed for her and charmed her.

She may not be charmed by the fact she may have to move out of Buckingham Palace for an extended period of time, as there is so much updating to be done. Wiring, plumbing and decorating all need to be brought into the modern age as, for the most part, nothing has been done for at least sixty years.

In September the Queen will become the longest reigning British monarch. She will overtake Queen Victoria that month. Given that her mother lived to be something 103 or 104, I am guessing we may have the Queen around for a while.

One of the things which has been around for awhile is the Greek Debt Crisis, described by one as the slowest moving financial train wreck in history, which could be a good thing. Had a collapse happened three years ago it would have been much worse.

Monday’s optimism that a deal could be done has faded and a meeting broke up early because of “major policy differences.” There are only six days left to the month. At the end of June, Greece needs to make a payment and it doesn’t have the money. The European Central Bank is propping up Greek banks as depositors remove a billion Euros a day.

I feel a little like I need propping up after having stayed up too late reading. I’m off soon to drinks and dinner and hopefully a pleasant night in New York.

You have one, too, wherever you are!