Posts Tagged ‘Tom Brady’

Letter From Claverack 09 25 2017 Fear, fear mongering, theater and more…

September 25, 2017

While it is now officially fall, the weather is summer-ish, scraping at ninety degrees today.  The train is rumbling into the city where I will be attending a talk today by my friend Jeff Cole of the Center for the Digital Future on “Driverless Cars and the Battle for the Living Room.”  I’m eager to see how those two very disparate topics get pulled together – or not.

Yesterday, I returned to the cottage from Provincetown where I had been visiting friends and attending the Tennessee Williams Festival, now in its twelfth year.  Mixing Shakespeare with Williams this year, I saw five plays, the most laudable being “Gnadiges Fraulein,” an absurdist Williams from the tail end of his career in which some see an allegory for that career.

The Festival was marred by weather from the last of Jose for the first three days; yesterday was magnificent.  Leaving after Shakespeare’s “Antony & Cleopatra,” I drove home, listening to the omnipresent exegesis of President Trump’s Friday comments on kneeling during the national anthem and Sunday’s reaction by athletes and owners of teams.

Trump had said that owners and coaches should get “the son of a bitch” players who kneeled during the national anthem off the field, suspending or firing them.

Owners and athletes defied the President.  Even Tom Brady locked arms with his teammates.  The Steelers stayed in the locker room until after the anthem had been played. All but two of the NFL’s owners and CEO’s issued statements calling for unity.

Some fans booed.  Most didn’t walk out.

Trump praised those who booed.

Such is life in today’s America.

And I’m on the side of the players and the owners in this kerfuffle.  The right to protest is as American as apple pie.

My weariness is growing daily with this President’s ability to be divisive.

Defying top aides, he has escalated the war of words with North Korea to the point that as I am writing this, the foreign minister for the pudgy, pugnacious little man who is the ruler of that country has said that Trump has declared war and they have the right to shoot down American planes.

This will not end well, I fear.

In Germany, Angela Merkel is on her way to a fourth term though diminished.  The far right AfD has won a troubling 13% of the vote and will have a place in the German parliament, a feat that no other far right German movement has managed in decades.

It is representative of the fear that threads its way through our societal fibers, in Germany and here at home, in France and the Netherlands.  The world is changing and change often results in fear and the world is changing so quickly right now.

Abe in Japan has called a snap election, riding high on North Korean nuclear fears.

The Senate is desperately working to pass another bill to repeal Obamacare but with McCain, Rand Paul and probably Collins and possibly Murkowski against it, tough sledding is a generous description of what is facing McConnell.

Trump is saying today that Congress doesn’t have “the guts” to repeal Obamacare and I’m hoping he’s right as this version seems to be the most mean-spirited of all the versions proposed so far.

I’m off soon to the presentation.  I’ll let you know how driverless cars and the battle for the living room fit together!

Have a good day!


Letter From New York 04 25 2016 From beheadings to Deflategate…

April 25, 2016

I’m not sure where the term “dog tired” came from but that’s what I am today, “dog tired.”  When I woke it was a grey, chill day, unremittingly grey.  At class I was struggling to get my rambunctious students to pay attention while I was helping them fill in the background of what they needed to know about media history.   

Most of them are graduating in three weeks and there are only four more classes for them and you can sense them stampeding toward the doors. 

Leaving them, I went down to Relish, the little cafe by the train station and had an egg white omelet, reading a mystery by Louise Penny while eating.  Coming home, I did a conference call and then prepped for some interviews I am doing for our community radio station tomorrow.

The American Dance Institute has purchased a rundown lumberyard in Catskill and is converting it to performance spaces and living quarters for artists while they’re in residence.  It’s an exciting project…

I am talking to Chris Bolan, their Community Relations Manager, tomorrow about the project.

So right now, I am listening to jazz, sipping a much needed martini and working on  figuring out kitchen organization.  I have more stuff than space.  What goes?  What stays and where does what stays, go?

One of the reasons I felt tired or maybe a bit depressed was that as I was walking toward my class, the phone pinged and the BBC reported a leading gay activist in Bangladesh had been hacked to death, not too long after a liberal blogger had been similarly dispensed.  I felt sad, angry, helpless, wanting to do something to change the tide of hate sweeping the world and not knowing at all what to do about it.

The afternoon brought news that a Canadian in the Philippines has been killed by an Islamist militant group.  His name was John Ridsdel, described as brilliant and compassionate; he was a 68 year old tourist from Calgary, Canada.  Beheaded, of course, in keeping with tradition.

On the American political scene, Cruz and Kasich made a pact to stop Trump by Kasich withdrawing from Indiana in favor of Cruz and Cruz withdrawing from Oregon in favor of Kasich.  After great fanfare this morning, it seems to have fallen apart by the afternoon.

It was not a good day for the New England Patriot’s Tom Brady as the courts upheld his suspension from the first four games of the season.  Deflategate has not gone away; its repercussions are still being felt and Brady’s legacy is at stake.  He could still appeal but his chances aren’t good.  The NFL may well have won.

Hard for me to figure this out as I am not a football fan; never a big fan, I was totally lost to the sport when the concussion revelations began to happen.

It is a mellow night at the cottage.  It is 7:30 and the sun has not yet gone away.  There are buds on the trees and the rhododendron are starting their bloom.  The jazz has energized me and I am happy now.  Somehow, in writing this, I have shed this day.  And I am grateful.

Thank you.

Letter From New York 05 11 15 Of glittering sun and charming princes…

May 11, 2015

Today dawned gloriously, bright shiny sunlight came barreling down from the east, casting a disc of yellow/white onto the creek, glinting up at me as I stood on the deck for a moment before heading for the city.

The Hudson looked peaceful as I rolled south on the train, giving no evidence that there had been a fire at Indian Point, the nuclear reactor forty miles north of midtown Manhattan or that oil from there had seeped into the river, causing environmental concerns. Governor Cuomo was there over the weekend, being briefed on the happenings. It makes him and many others nervous about a nuclear plant that close to the city.

Anything nuclear makes me nervous.

For those who have a fond spot for Britain, it may be time to be nervous. While last week’s election has saved the political career of David Cameron it might just herald the beginning of the end for “Great Britain.” The SNP [Scottish National Party] won 56 of 59 seats that Scotland has in Britain’s Parliament. They also are very much in favor of holding another vote about Scotland going its own way from the rest of the United Kingdom [England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland]. Just doesn’t seem right but it could happen.

What does seem right is the idea of a truce in Yemen that is supposed to start tomorrow to allow aid to reach the Yemenis. Fuel resources are almost exhausted and food is scarce. Days ago it was estimated that 80% of Yemenis were going hungry. It’s only become worse since then.

As the time for the truce draws near, the Saudis are deploying a strike force near the Yemen/Saudi border. Trucks carrying tanks have been traveling through the night to take positions. The Houthis say they will honor the truce as long as the Saudis do but if there are infractions they will immediately respond.

One UN official felt five days would not be enough time to get aid to the Yemenis but it is all they have, if they manage to hold the truce for that amount of time.

Secretary of State John Kerry is off to Sochi, Russia to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria, Ukraine and Iran. I wonder what that conversation is going to be like?

In more Washington news, writer Seymour Hersh has written a piece for the London Review of Books claiming that the story of Osama Bin Laden’s death was a lot of bunk and the truth is quite different. Seems he thinks that it was an American/Pakistani conspiracy and that OBL was actually a Pakistani prisoner at the time of the raid and the raid was a cover-up for Pakistan’s involvement.

Pretty far fetched and, like most conspiracy theories, pretty hard to prove.

From The Moscow Times, an English language newspaper in Russia not known for partisanship to Putin, claims that Russian soldiers have, in small numbers, quit the army after being forced to serve in Ukraine.

According to Vladimir Putin, no Russian soldiers are in Ukraine, only volunteers.

While the migrant focus has been on the thousands attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, another migrant drama has been playing out. Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi immigrants have been rescued at sea attempting to reach Malaysia since Thailand has been cracking down on human trafficking. The Rohingya are not allowed citizenship in Myanmar and as Muslims are a minority in that mostly Buddhist country and have been singled out for ethnic violence. Because of the Thai crackdown, aid workers are concerned that many have been abandoned at sea by their smugglers.

George Zimmerman, he of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida, is back in the news today, having been himself slightly wounded in a road rage incident.

And Tom Brady, Quarterback of the Patriots, has been suspended by the NFL for four games while the Patriots were fined a million dollars and two draft picks in coming years. Seems a slight slap on the wrist though it is almost assured that Brady will appeal his suspension. Ah, Deflategate!

Prince Harry, now fifth in line for the British throne after the birth of his niece, Charlotte, is in New Zealand, learning about the aftereffects of the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. By all accounts he is charming the New Zealanders to no end.

And that brings me to the end of today’s Letter From New York. I am about to do a conference call and then see about some dinner. That sounds charming.

Letter From New York 02 02 15 Amidst the snow and cold…

February 2, 2015

Fleeing in front of Winter Storm Linus, I arrived in the city last night before the snow started. After a light dinner, I snuggled in and feel asleep reading, warm in the comfort of the little New York apartment where I stay when I am in town.

The Super Bowl, of course, was last night. I didn’t watch but do know the Patriots won in a heart stopping finish and Tom Brady has been declared by some to be the best Quarterback of all time.

Today I had a couple of meetings, one with Touchcast, which is a video technology that is REALLY cool, allowing you to interact with a video playing over the internet, on your desktop, tablet or phone. Way cool, the kind of cool that gets me incredibly geeky excited.

During the afternoon it snowed in New York but it stayed warm enough that everything is slush. Soon the temperatures will drop and all that slush will freeze. And so I expect that by time I finish dinner at some friends’ apartment, the sidewalks will be perilous. Hope I make it home without skidding too much.

Upstate they are buried in two feet of snow. It stops. It starts. It stops. It starts. Good thing I came to town yesterday.

Obama’s four TRILLION dollar budget was released today. It includes a couple of trillion dollars in new taxes, which isn’t going to happen with the Congress he is facing.

Sorry. I have trouble getting my mind around that number. FOUR TRILLION!

Over in the rebellious part of Ukraine, the military leader there is calling for 100,000 men to be called up to service. Some have pointed out there may not be 100,000 men in the rebel controlled region to be called up, so many have fled. And some are speculating that it is just a cover for more Russian “volunteers” to come into Ukraine, which, of course, Putin denies.

The stock market had a good day and that was good. Oil is rebounding a bit and there seems to be rejoicing about that. The dollar is stronger which is good for tourists but not so much for industry. Our exports cost more but a meal in Paris is less expensive.

My friend Arthur returned from his gastronomical pilgrimage to Paris conducted within days of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and saw little evidence in the streets of Paris of the terror attack. He had expected gendarmes on every corner but there weren’t. It felt mostly normal to him.

In Egypt, they are making a tradition of mass convictions of criminals, herding them off to be executed. Today it was 183 men found guilty. 188 had been charged. Two were acquitted. One was given ten years because he was a minor and another two were off the hook because they had died.

Amnesty International is outraged. The UN calls the mass convictions “unprecedented.” Thousands have been sentenced to death or life in prison since the overthrow of Morsi. I want to see the pyramids but don’t think this is the time to do it, for lots of reasons.

Sitting in the conference room of my friend Todd Broder’s company, the sky has turned dark and everywhere lights burn. Soon I will head out for dinner, braving the cold and snow, looking forward to a long and lazy evening with old friends and good food.

Letter From New York 01 29 15 Recent events and good friends…

January 29, 2015

As I make the return journey from the city, I am riding alongside a steel grey Hudson River on a day that is equally grey. The world feels a gloomy place and there are reports of more deep cold and snow arriving. Looking out the window, it almost seems I am viewing a black and white film.

Here in New York, much of the news is focused on the fall of Sheldon Silver, the soon to be ex-Speaker of the State Assembly. His fall from grace is being chronicled by news outlets both on the left and right; it has been a stunning collapse in the fortunes of a man who has ruled the State Assembly with an iron fist for more than two decades. Accused of graft, he is being forced from his position and his maneuverings to exercise power in the background have been thwarted by newly elected legislators and forces from the suburbs around the city.

When first accused there were supporting voices. In the last week, they have fallen silent. His law firm has fired him. Fellow legislators and old friends are distancing themselves. He is in a very lonely spot.

The New England Patriots have more than one problem as they roll toward Super Bowl Sunday. There is the shadow cast on them by Deflategate; according to one report I read today, the majority of Americans think they did it. The NFL continues to investigate. But now they are facing the challenge that Tom Brady, legendary quarterback for the Pats, has a cold. He promises to be a hundred percent by the time of the game but he was sniffling and coughing all through a press conference.

Deflategate is serious to many. I find it both humorous and a little sad if somehow not surprising. People have been cheating since the beginning of time.

And since the beginning of time, opposing sides in a war have taken hostages. Today’s drama is once again focused in the Mideast. ISIS promised to release a Japanese hostage and not to kill a Jordanian pilot who is also a hostage in exchange for a woman sentenced to death in Jordan for being part of a suicide bombing that took place several years ago in Amman. As the sun sets, it appears negotiations have failed. ISIS has failed to prove the pilot is still alive and Jordan won’t move forward without that knowledge.

In the category of still trying to comprehend are two things. One is that the Koch brothers, two of the richest men on the planet, with their allies, plan to spend nearly a billion dollars to influence the 2016 elections. That is as much as either the Republicans or the Democrats will spend. Since the Kochs favor a conservative agenda, it effectively means doubling the resources available to the Republicans. It’s mind-boggling.

The other thing I am assimilating is the size of Apple’s quarterly earnings in the 4th quarter of 2014. It was the biggest quarterly profit in history, for any company, anywhere. $18 billion. There were a lot of iPhones sold, something like 74 million, which was far more than anyone was expecting.

Today I had a call with two old friends. We all worked in the cable business in the 80’s and 90’s and had not spoken in awhile so we set up a conference call. Medora and Bruce each have a daughter and they attended the same schools in California, though at different times. They had a lot to share about that and it was interesting to listen to. Bruce mentioned an article he had read this morning in the NY Times about the “Uberization” of work. We’ll only work when we’re needed, summoned perhaps by an app. It’s a novel thought and a bit frightening.

But mostly it was good to share some time with old friends and have a good old “chin wag” as my Australian friend Gour would say.

Whether you are living in America or a refugee camp in Turkey one of the things which supports us is the community of people around us. They help us stand when we think we will fall.

Letter From New York 01 23 15 At home and out in the world…

January 23, 2015

It is a day when the sun has been sparkling off the ice on the drive. I knew it was four o’clock because the deer wandered across the yard in their daily pilgrimage. The setting sun, still bright, is casting long tree shadows outside my windows.

I am freshly back from the city, settling down into a freshly cleaned cottage, ready to enjoy the weekend. There are buckets of things to do tomorrow; I have emails to catch up on and bills to pay over the weekend.

A winter storm is coming, not a terrible one but they’re predicting about four inches of snow in total and the nights will be, for here, bitterly cold. Wood is stacked by the Franklin stove to help heat the house tomorrow.

After getting back home, I took a break and walked my neighborhood. The house that will forever, to me, be Rosemary’s cottage has been torn down and a new one is being built on the old footprint. It is a sign of change in the neighborhood. I haven’t really met the new owners yet, hopefully will. They’re living in a rental next door right now and haven’t been very visible.

Out in the wide, wide world Abdullah, King of Saudi Arabia, died, replaced by his half-brother Salman, who has assumed the throne and assured everyone he will continue the course. Abdullah was 90; Salman is 79. I think the older generation is thinning out and the younger ones will start getting a chance but will it make much of a difference? Stay tuned.

Out on Mars, the rover Opportunity is celebrating its eleventh anniversary. Designed to last for three months, it has kept on going and going and going with no signs of stopping. Remarkable little machine. Space stories give me so much delight.

Out in the Mideast, the deadline has passed for Japan to pay a ransom for two of its citizens being held by ISIS. The world waits to see what will happen.

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t follow football. But even I have not been able to escape what has become known as Ballghazi and Deflategate. The Patriots apparently were playing with deflated balls when they defeated the Colts and that’s not allowed. Belichick, coach of the Patriots, and Tom Brady, the quarterback, have NO idea how that happened. NONE whatsoever. The NFL continues to investigate. And, for some reason, I find it fascinating.

What has been absolutely fascinating has been the arrest of Sheldon Silver, who is the Speaker of the State Assembly. Accused of taking millions as graft, the papers today were filled with photos of him being taken for arraignment in hand cuffs. The NY Times is calling for him to resign and the Post relished his predicament and devoted endless pages to it in their paper today.

It may well shake the very foundations of government in New York State, not that that would be a bad thing. New York is notorious – not as notorious as Illinois but the impression I’ve had is that Albany politics are pretty grimy.

So we go into the weekend, the sun almost set. Off to dinner with friends and then a cozy night at the cottage.