Carnage In Paris

Reports are still coming in, but the world has been shocked by another deadly terrorist attack.  This time it happened in Paris, where more than 100 people were killed in a coordinated series of shootings that targeted a sporting event, concert, and restaurant.

We’ll have to see what the investigation shows as to who planned the attacks — ISIS already is claiming responsibility — and what their motivation was, but the attacks show, once again, that the citizens of the western world must always be on guard.  Those of us who have enjoyed a trip to Paris can easily imagine that we might have been at the restaurant, or the concert, where the masked men armed with machine guns started indiscriminately shooting innocent people.  We think such horrors can’t happen again . . . and then they do.  We shake our heads at what seems to be senseless violence, but to the perpetrators such attacks obviously are not senseless.  They are carefully planned and designed to sow panic and give the terrorists the advantage.

At this point, with the identity of the assailants still not released and details sketchy, we don’t know the backgrounds of the shooters.  If they do, in fact, turn out to be Islamic extremists affiliated with ISIS, that fact will only feed into the anti-immigrant backlash that seems to be building in Europe in the wake of the decision by the EU to have member states accept large numbers of Syrian refugees.

The repercussions of such a finding are likely to be felt in America, too, and probably will mean that immigration will remain a huge political issue and that security will once again become a focus of discussion.  I think part of the mystifying, apparently enduring appeal of Donald Trump is that he talked about immigration when other candidates really weren’t — and although many people want to dismiss all of the voters concerned about immigration issues as racist xenophobes, I think that many are simply worried about the potential risks of an apparently porous southern border.  If we can’t stop the flood of people crossing into the country, what’s to prevent ISIS or al Qaeda militants from joining the tide?

In the meantime, our hearts will ache for the people of France and the awful loss and horror they have experienced.

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Cold House

Yesterday we had our annual furnace check-up, and the result was bad news:  the inspector found a crack in the heat exchanger unit, which could cause carbon monoxide to leak into the house.  So he “red-tagged” our furnace, which meant that he had advised us of the problem and we could decide whether or not to use the furnace.

IMG_7460_2That left us with one of the more easy and obvious decisions we’ve had to make lately.  After weighing the options for a fraction of a nanosecond, we decided that rather than senselessly flirt with death from carbon monoxide poisoning, we would turn off the furnace — which was just about at the end of its normal life span, anyway — and buy a new one.

In the meantime, we’re enduring life in a cold house.  Fortunately, it’s not super-cold yet; today when we woke up it was 34 degrees outside and the indoor temperature, according to our thermostat, had dipped to 58.  That’s well below the comfort zone for most Americans, but it’s really not too bad.  So long as you bundle up and keep moving during the day, and add lots of blankets at night, you can manage perfectly well.  I once spent a weekend on an island on a Canadian lake and slept in an unheated bunkhouse when the overnight temperature got down into the teens, and enjoyed it immensely.

In some ways, living in a cold house has its little advantages.  I tend to sleep better in the cold, anyway, and this will give us every incentive to get out of the house and do things this weekend.  I wouldn’t want to live footloose and furnace-free long-term, though.