Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Cinch Review

Sandy: aftermath of the tempest

Clearly this storm has been a disaster for many who badly need assistance and prayers. Here at Cinch HQ in NYC we can only be grateful not to have lost power or suffered any other significant damage. Were it not for seeing it on the news, we wouldn’t even know it had been such a damaging storm. Would that everyone could say the same thing.

In terms of New York City at large, it seems the damage to the subway system is the biggest single issue hanging over the recovery effort. Shutting down the system was meant to avoid serious flooding by salt water, but it occurred anyway, and that’s a very big deal which will impact service for quite some time and cost plenty to fix. Continue reading Sandy: aftermath of the tempest

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Sandy: an update from within the tempest

‘Tis well I remember Hurricane Irene from 14 months ago. I remember going out just about when it was predicted to have been at its worst. The rain had stopped and light was breaking through the clouds; it seemed for all the world like a nice day. I thought: “Wow, this must be the eye of the storm.” But no: that was the storm — at least in our neighborhood.

I’m so tempted to say “Deja-vu all over again.” Yet, it’s clear enough from news reports that low-lying areas by the sea are getting inundated, and no one can say this storm isn’t going to be very serious for many people. But as far as dramatic effects in the heart of New York City … well, there have been passing summer thunderstorms that created more of a stir. We’ve had breezes, the occasional howling gust, and some moderate but intermittent rain. The focus in the media right now on a single crane slightly dislodged in midtown seems to sum things up; there’s a distinct lack of news, at least in Manhattan. Continue reading Sandy: an update from within the tempest

The Cinch Review

The Tempest Approacheth: Hurricane Sandy looms over U.S. Northeast

They waited at the landing
And they tried to understand
But there is no understanding
For the judgement of God’s hand

So goes one of the final verses of Bob Dylan’s song, “Tempest,” released this past September 11th. It describes the sinking of the Titanic, but makes no mention of any iceberg. There is only the “tempest” cited in the title. It’s an unusually long song, and Hurricane Sandy is predicted to be one unusually long storm. Make of it what you will!

At this hour (10 a.m.) from my vantage point in the center of New York City, things are quite calm and very strange. Breezy, for sure, with some raindrops in the air but no torrents. What is very odd is knowing that, effectively, everyone is at home. You can almost never say that in New York, on any day, at any hour. This strange state of affairs is thanks to the complete shut down of public transportation. It is only the second time that’s ever been done in anticipation of inclement weather, the first time being August of 2011, when it was done for Hurricane Irene. That turned out to be an overreaction. This time, if the meteorologists are half-way correct, it will not be an overreaction.

In New York City, amidst the walls of skyscrapers, I think most of us tend to feel immune to the vagaries of weather. The worst blizzards imaginable can strike, but in a few hours as if by magic the streets are cleared and the sidewalks swept. If you use the subway or your legs to get around, you are barely inconvenienced by such events.

This could be different—indeed it’s already different by virtue of the subway shutdown—but still I think the deepest concern with regard to this storm is for people in other locales, places where they are almost certain to lose power, perhaps for many days. With the power lines underground in Manhattan, I’m not sure what disastrous sequence of events would have to take place to cut off power here.

In any case, I will continue checking in here as whim and circumstance dictate.

Now I’m going to take the dog for a walk.

One more verse from “Tempest” by Bob Dylan:

Smokestack was leaning sideways
Heavy feet began to pound
He walked into the whirlwind
Sky splitting all around

Addendum 11 a.m.: In truth, a quick walk around the neighborhood shows that about 50% of businesses are open, and there are plenty of people out and about, searching for the storm. I guess eventually it will probably find us.

The Cinch Review

Reformation Sunday

Today is Reformation Sunday (except for the Orthodox who celebrate it next week*). That means it’s the nearest Sunday before October 31st, which was the day in 1517 on which Martin Luther—an incredibly brilliant if imperfect man—nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, creating a stir which continues in motion to this day.

The notion of this as a holiday to celebrate is strange to some Christians, and I understand that well, having been brought up Roman Catholic and only in relatively recent years having learned to embrace the Lutheran I always was. Why celebrate schism? I have a simplistic way of looking at these matters, but I’ll share it since we’re going to press and there’s nothing else to put in this space.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” So says Jesus in Matthew 16:18, and in the original Greek in which it was written it is also a pun, since “Peter” is derived from “petros” meaning stone or rock. What exactly is that church—the church of Jesus Christ which he announced he would build that day? It is commonly understood as a source of sorrow that the church of Christ is divided, that Christians are divided, and such a division surely has to be a source of sorrow to some extent. However, the key question for this believer is this: At what point was the church “undivided” in our ordinary human terms? The Reformation was not the first incarnation of deep disagreement amongst people who otherwise agreed that Jesus is the Son of God and our redeemer. The Eastern Orthodox churches had split centuries before from the concentration of power in Rome. Even among the early church fathers, there was much disagreement and controversy. And then there’s this: While Jesus himself walked the earth, the gospels record that the apostles argued amongst themselves about who among them was “the greatest.” Jesus endeavored to correct them, and he had a great deal of influence in these matters, but still I believe that history does not record a period of time during which there was no serious disagreement amongst Christians over anything. Continue reading Reformation Sunday

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British army dog Theo receives posthumous medal

Army dog Theo receives posthumous medalIn March of 2011, in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was killed by enemy fire. Lance Corporal Tasker was a specialized dog handler, and he was well known for being utterly inseparable from his arms-and-explosives-sniffing dog Theo, a springer spaniel who has been credited with more successful finds during his time in Afghanistan than any other dog with the British military, and is believed by so doing to have saved many human lives. The relationship between the two was such that Lance Corporal Tasker would prefer to consume his meals outdoors, with Theo, rather than leaving his trusted dog outside while he ate in the canteen.

LCpl Liam Tasker and TheoSeveral hours after witnessing Lance Corporal Tasker being killed by enemy fire, the springer spaniel Theo was overcome by seizures, and died despite veterinary treatment.

The medal which has been awarded to Theo posthumously is one which is called the Dickin Medal (after its founder) and is also known as the animals’ Victoria Cross. It originated in the Second World War and has been used since then to recognize twenty-eight dogs, one cat, three horses and thirty-two WWII carrier pigeons.

May both of these heroes of the war in Afghanistan rest in peace. (Photo via Britain’s Ministry of Defence.)

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Duke the dog, savior of a nine-week-old girl

Duke dog saves baby girlOne of the best dog-related stories of this or any other month has been that of Duke, the ex-shelter mutt in Portland, Connecticut who somehow detected that a newly-born infant in his home was not breathing, and whose dramatic reaction led to her parents checking on her, calling 911, and saving her life. (Video below, right.) Continue reading Duke the dog, savior of a nine-week-old girl

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Nobel peformance art?

The Nobel Peace Prize has long been degenerating into a vapidly-politicized joke, and this surely qualifies as the punchline: The European Union has been awarded the prize today.

Split between the populations of the various EU states, the roughly $1.2 million prize will amount to something that would probably require ha’penny coinage to distribute; ah, but the Euro does not feature such denominations.

So, a president wins the Nobel Peace Prize for the great achievement of merely winning the U.S. election. A wannabee super-state, administered in the least democratic fashion that the bureaucrats and political elites can get away with, wins the Nobel Peace Prize for merely existing.

All this, while the world teems with brave individuals opposing tyranny and repression, all essentially nameless and subject to being eliminated by the regimes they oppose. Many of them sure could use the positive attention brought by a Nobel Peace Prize. But then, there is so little time, and there are so many punchlines to deliver. Continue reading Nobel peformance art?