Posts Tagged ‘The Lucifer Principle’

Letter From New York 08 24 15 Of market crashes and treasures ruined…

August 25, 2015

The day started peacefully, coffee on the deck, a reading of the New York Times which presaged the market fall today, with a good article about hanging on, breathing deep and not panicking.   It was that kind of day. I was getting ready to go into a meeting when I had an alert from the AP that the market plunged 1000 points at the open.

With that in my mind, I walked into my meeting and did my best to push that out of my consciousness and center myself in the moment. I’m not sure anything will come of it but the local community college, Columbia Greene, is interested in me as a potential adjunct professor. Their enrollment is down but they won’t really know until the end of next week when open registration ends. They seem to be considering me for two potential positions, Public Communications and/or Intro to Journalism.

There isn’t much pay involved but I would love to go back to the classroom. We’ll see but it has been a fun thought with which to play.

So the big news of the day in the conversations around me is the Dow’s Dive, which follows a dive of similar proportions on Friday.

But that’s not the only news of the day. The Dow will go up; the Dow will go down. But the fluctuations, which do affect us, don’t last for millennia. What has lasted for millennia are the ruins of a temple of Baalshamin, until now. IS planted it with explosives and destroyed it. It may have been yesterday or a month ago but it is gone, destroyed. It was part of the ruins of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has seen empires rise and fall, markets rise and crash and it endured. Until now.

Once I walked amongst the ruins of Ephesus and marveled at what they were and Palmyra was so much more. This week, IS beheaded the man in charge of Palmyra’s antiquities and destroyed one of its major temples.

Barbarians walk the earth again.

As I write this, I am in one of my favorite restaurants, Thai Market. It is at 107 and Amsterdam. My friend Lionel, whose New York apartment was not far from here, introduced me to it. I come, about once a week. Some of the staff knows me and it is a good place to come, eat, and write sometimes, as I am doing now.

It is the Chinese slowdown that is so roiling the markets; I thought it would be the Greeks but the market seemed to have, over the years, factored that crisis into its workings. China was not expected.

The Greeks are going through their own drama. Tsipras has resigned, triggering snap elections. Right now an anti-Euro, pro-drachma party is attempting to form a government but without much success. It will be interesting to see what happens in Greece. Tsipras, defiled by some for his U-turn on anti-austerity, is incredibly popular because he represents something “different.”

Also representing something “different” is our Donald Trump.

Howard Bloom, my writer friend, author of “The Lucifer Principle” and three other books, is doing a podcast. The second one taped tonight. I am fresh from that. At the end, we all talked about Trump and Howard posited that he is sending out all kinds of male dominance signals, which are resonating with those who need to have their male dominance plucked up.

It makes some sense.

He holds a resounding lead in the Republican polls and that makes me think Howard may be onto something. The Donald is primal if he is anything.

Three Americans and a Brit have been honored by France with the Legion of Honor for their participation in overwhelming a potential terrorist on a fast train between Amsterdam and Paris. They took him on and subdued him. It prevented a potential tragedy. No one died and no one was critically injured. Bravo!

Ukraine is unsettled even as it celebrates its independence. More trouble will come from there before the year is out.

South Korea and North Korea have reached an agreement to ratchet down their escalating crisis. North Korea has, sort of, apologized for the landmines they placed across the border, which cost two South Koreans soldiers their legs. The South Koreans have agreed to quit their loudspeaker broadcasts across the border. The countries have gone off war footing, a good thing.

And a good thing is that my friend Robert will be coming shortly to join me and we will get some food because I am now very hungry.

Letter From New York 03 06 15 Ranting on a sunny evening…

June 3, 2015

Returning to the office from a series of appointments and meetings, I met with one of the phenomenon of New York City, the partially crazy person we all learn to just ignore. As I exited the 1 line at 28th Street, a very large gentleman came down 7th Avenue carrying huge black nylon bag, swinging at his side. As he strode the Avenue like a colossus, he was not exactly shouting; it was more like braying. He sounded rather like a human imitation of a siren. As I reached my turn at 30th Street, he began to alternate the braying with shouts of “I hate effing everything and everyone!”

No one seemed to really notice him. He just went on his way, slicing through the pedestrian traffic, a human battleship on some kind of mission.

Almost any foray onto the streets of New York means an encounter with at least one person with a loose grip on reality.

The other morning, there was a well-dressed, middle-aged lady on West End Avenue, chattering away. I thought she was speaking to someone while wearing a Jawbone. But she wasn’t. No Jawbone. Just having a merry conversation with her best imaginary friend.

We don’t intervene or do much except to give them as wide a berth as we can. If they’re not doing any harm, they sail on down the streets. Such people are part of the fabric of any metropolitan area. It sometimes causes me to think on the social welfare net we don’t seem to have for these folks.

There are so many human needs all over the world. Hundreds of thousands are facing potential starvation in South Sudan. Migrants are dying while attempting to reach Italy from Africa or from Myanmar to Indonesia. Nepal is in ruins. Heat is killing them by the hundreds in India.

The huge man on 7th Avenue got me thinking about the state of humanity. We spend so much time and money on fighting each other rather than uniting in curing what ails us. Howard Bloom posits that is part of our nature in “The Lucifer Principle.” He’s probably right. But my hope is that we head toward a better future though I’m not banking on it so much right this moment.

Fierce fighting has broken out in Ukraine again. Boko Haram has slaughtered thousands and kidnapped at least hundreds while Amnesty International is claiming the Nigerian Army has managed to kill off at least 7000 and should be investigated for war crimes.

China, Russia and the United States are all jockeying for position. Saudi Arabia and Iran are duking it out to see who is going to be the big kid on the block in the Middle East. Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines along with the U.S. are skittering to keep China from controlling the South China Sea.

But at the end of the day it is all geo-political nonsense that has been going on since the beginning of empires. The Egyptians wanted to be the big guy on the block and they were for a while. So were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, Alexander had his moment – and it was just a moment – then came the Romans and so on and on and on. All about conquering and crushing.

I must pick up a copy of Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” Today it doesn’t feel like it.

While Mayor DeBlasio proclaims that New York is the safest big city in the country, murder rates have inched up the last two years.

Ah, I am ranting tonight but it’s what is on my mind tonight. And isn’t that what blogs are for? Our individual thoughts and rants and hopes and prayers?

Letter From New York 03 17 15 The many aspects of nature…

March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

This is an odd day for me, always has been, as I am of German/Scandinavian descent and so there isn’t a lot of resonance in my background with the day. And the feel of the bacchanal that accompanies the day was far from the emotional bandwidth that resided within my family of origin. We were good German Catholics.

If you are celebrating today, be careful. Apparently tomorrow is a great day for dentists, having to deal with the results of fistfights from tonight.

It’s been a grey, grey, drear, damp day in Claverack with sudden bursts of sun breaking through the dark clouds for a few seconds, teasing one to hope for more.

Just back from a walk around from the neighborhood, I immediately went online to see if there were any updates on the Israeli election. There aren’t any yet. It’s a tight election and tomorrow we may know more but there are likely weeks of wrangling ahead to see who can actually form a government. Poised for the first time to be a power are Israeli-Arab voters who have joined together their numerous small parties under a single banner for this election.

Netanyahu has claimed they are coming out in droves and has said it is US money that is hiring buses to bring them to the polls. It has brought accusations of racism upon Netanyahu.

The result of this bitterly fought election, as ugly as anything American politics serves up, is important to America. Israel and the US have been historically close and I believe the majority of Americans would like to keep it that way but right now the relationship is frayed.

Chris Borland, a player for the SF 49ers, has decided at 24 to retire rather than to face the possibility of permanent brain damage. He is one of the best rookie players in the league.

Every year during “The Upfront,” billions of dollars are exchanged between networks and advertisers, buying great swaths of advertising inventory in exchange for what is hoped will be an advantageous price. NBC is facing a particularly trying Upfront this year with lingering problems from the Brian Williams situation, Today being in second place among the morning shows and has a ratings slump occurring at MSNBC.

It will be very interesting to see how the Upfront plays out this year. Discovery’s head, David Zaslav, has announced that he thinks this year will be “tepid.” Money is beginning to move toward digital alternatives.

I follow this because this was once part of my life, when I worked at A&E and Discovery.

Veering from advertising to humanitarianism, the island nation of Vanuatu is beginning to run out of food and supplies. While the death toll has been low so far, communications are still down and needs are going up. One organization ramping up to help is Save the Children, http://www.savethechildren.org/.

Living alone, as I do, gives one a great deal of time to think. My friend, the writer Howard Bloom [“The Lucifer Principle” and others], calls nature a “bloody bitch.” And when I consider situations like Vanuatu, I have to agree. It will be years for it to recover. 40% of its income comes from tourism, cruise ships stopping by mostly. That is indefinitely suspended.

Nature is wonderful and awe inspiring. It is also destructive and capricious.

Right now a vast solar storm is occurring. If it gets bad enough, you might see damage to satellites, overloading of power grids and other fun things. And should you be living in the high latitudes, it will also be beautiful to behold.

Do you remember the movie “The Breakfast Club?” It was released thirty years ago and there was a special screening of it last night at the SXSW Film Festival. Amazing; seems like yesterday. Its stars Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy were there, also a little in disbelief that it had been thirty years.

Twenty years ago, Microsoft gave us Internet Explorer. Now they are going to kill it off and will launch a new web browser, specifically oriented to mobile users and integrating Cortana into it [their version of Apple’s Siri]. It doesn’t officially have a name but is codenamed Project Spartan.

Now I must finish up and go to the drugstore to pick up a prescription so I can keep getting everything together for India.