Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Music Monday

I'm more tuned-in to remembering those who died in wars on Britain's Remembrance Day, 11 November. The USA sees fit to have a full-blown Memorial Weekend in late May, complete with barbecues and other hi-jinks. This, she declares archly, seems hardly appropriate, to the occasion.

Here's my contribution, anyway. I'm not sure if the soldiers portrayed in this video are American, UK or Allied, but the message is the same. I have reason to be thankful, personally, for the US military's assistance to Britain in the 1940s. With regard to later wars, I have other opinions.

Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits - Mark Knopfler on guitar

Saturday, May 28, 2016

“Deep pockets and empty hearts rule the world. We unleash them at our peril.” ― Stefan Molyneux

There's this point of view -

Or there's this (edited from a post of mine dated June 2011)-

Is the USA run by psychopaths? It's tempting to say "Of course" in a flip, facetious tone, but it's a theory worth seriously considering. An article by David Schwartz at the weekend set me out on this tack: The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths. David Schwartz refers to a comment by the late Kurt Vonnegut in his final book A Man Without a Country:

He was the man; the country was the United States of America. Vonnegut felt that his country had disappeared right under his – and the Constitution’s – feet, through what he called “the sleaziest, low-comedy Keystone Cops-style coup d’état imaginable.” He was talking about the Bush administration. Were Vonnegut still alive, he would not have felt that his country had returned.
Snip from the article:

The United States corporate and government spheres have become, Vonnegut suggested, a perfect habitat for psychopaths. What has allowed so many psychopaths to rise so high in corporations, and then government, he wrote,

“is that they are so decisive. They are going to do something every fuckin’ day and they are not afraid. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they don’t give a fuck what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich!

In a country in which much of human culture has been rendered into machines for the manufacture of money, psychopaths are the ideal leaders. They are very focused. They are outcome oriented. They are frequently charming, and usually very bright and able. They can lay off thousands of people, or deny people health care, or have them waterboarded, and it does not disturb their sleep. They can be impressively confident. Psychopaths can be dynamic leaders of enterprises, but are handicapped by their lack of feelings for relationships. They may be accomplished captains of industry, or senators, or surgeons, but their families are frequently abused and miserable. Most psychotherapists have seen the wives or husband or children of such accomplished people.
I know little or nothing about how a psychopath is properly defined, wondered whether astrology can be used to identify traits of it.

A check list to determine if somebody is a psychopath: Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), appears HERE. It's said to be the most commonly used tool to assess a person’s psychopathy.

Each of the 20 items is scored a 0, 1, or 2. If a person receives a combined score of more than 30 points out of 40 possible points, then he is considered a “psychopath.” Here is the list:

Item 1: Glibness/superficial charm
Item 2: Grandiose sense of self-worth
Item 3: Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
Item 4: Pathological lying
Item 5: Cunning/manipulative
Item 6: Lack of remorse or guilt
Item 7: Shallow affect
Item 8: Callous/lack of empathy
Item 9: Parasitic lifestyle
Item 10: Poor behavioural controls
Item 11: Promiscuous sexual behaviour
Item 12: Early behaviour problems
Item 13: Lack of realistic long-term goals
Item 14: Impulsivity
Item 15: Irresponsibility
Item 16: Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
Item 17: Many short-term marital relationships
Item 18: Juvenile delinquency
Item 19: Revocation of conditional release
Item 20: Criminal versatility

Is astrology capable of identifying a combination of such traits though?
At there's a review by Karin Hoffmann of Astrologer Liz Greene's book
The Dark of the Soul
A snip:

Can we see the psychopath in the horoscope?
It is fascinating, for example, that Moon and/or Venus often play a dominant role in charts of people whom we consider as psychopaths. In fact, the charts of a lot of allegedly "unfeeling" and "cold-blooded" psychopaths have an emphasis of the water element. Surprising?

From a psychological point of view it becomes clear that these people have often had difficulties to cope with their strong sensitivity and emotions in their past. They found it easier to lock their feelings away and keep them 'water-tight' so that they didn't have to feel them. But they have found other outlets for their watery side: they use their strong capacity for empathy to 'slip into their victims' skin' and find out about their weaknesses and fears in order to exploit them ruthlessly. To the psychopath it may "only" feel like striking back, like a revenge for their own hurt feelings...
So, are all people with an emphasis on water psychopaths?
The answer to the last question is quite clearly "No!"

I doubt that it would be possible, or ethical, to identify a psychopath from a natal chart. Too many variables, too much "grey area", too many unknown factors from the person's background etc. Given a certain set of life experiences it's possible that any one of us could display some psychopathic tendencies. Perhaps astrology might indicate those in whom "tendencies" could most likely mushroom into full-fledged psychopathy?

I'm taking the liberty of copying snips from two comments from the thread following the article by David Schwartz. These provides plenty of food for thought. First comment was written by "Giovanna" and can be found in full timed around 1 PM on 5th June in the thread beneath the original article.

.....It is an absolute mistake to dismiss psychopaths as simply crazy, wild-eyed serial killers. Serial killers are rare; and though it's true that most serial killers are psychopathic, most psychopaths are NOT serial killers and, by definition of law, they are absolutely sane: they distinguish the difference between right and wrong and they completely understand the nature and quality of the acts they carry out. Psychopathic individuals are not delusional and should not be confused with people who are psychotic and whose acts can be legally justified by an affirmative NGRI defense.

In fact, contrary to the myths surrounding them, most psychopaths appear quite NORMAL and even charming and charismatic... at first. They quickly reveal themselves, however, as parasitic, lying con-artists who are adept, cunning and ruthless masters at exploiting any perceived weakness, which is why they gravitate to authoritarian politics and find their comfortable niche in the capitalist/corporate/political imperial milieu. I've always found it interesting (and disturbing) that the most important decisions affecting society are placed in the hands of these shallow, superficial, career charlatans because absolutely nothing -- NOTHING -- is more important to them than their own self-interest.

...............Corporate and political malfeasance fall under the quaint euphemism known as "white collar" crime, which sounds very milquetoast. As the world is currently experiencing, there is nothing tepid or inconsequential, however, about the massive societal and evironmental destruction psychopathic corporate and/or political criminals leaves in their wake.

Many years ago I figured out that psychopaths are drawn to positions of power and domination like moths to flame. For instance, there are probably more psychopaths milling about Wall Street and "K" Street than anywhere else on the planet. There is not a doubt in my mind that these "people of the lie" are the poster children of imperial-corporate capitalism and responsible for most of the world's ills......

Second comment by Mairead dated 6 June at 1:59 PM

This first-string second-string stuff becomes more clear if we remember that psychopathy is at one end of *one* spectrum, with something like selflessness at the other end. The other basic spectrum we're dealing with is the skein of abilities that we lump together as "intelligence".

So down at the psychopathic end, we have the "obligative" psychopaths, who totally lack the ability to experience empathy. To them, other living creatures *truly* might as well be made of cardboard.

If those ones aren't smart, they'll eff up pretty quickly and end in prison. But if they are smart, they'll learn to feign the feelings they don't have. They'll learn the right words, facial expressions, etc. for any given situation and use them as a tool.

Further toward the middle of the spectrum, we have those who *do* feel, but not very deeply. They don't have the ethical "tin ear" that the obligatives have. They hear the music, they just don't always pay attention to it. They behave badly toward others whenever they think they can get away with it. The politicians who sell us out, the judges who take bribes, the brutal cops, the professionals who charge for unnecessary - and often unperformed - work, the priests who molest children, et lengthy cetera are in this category. They do it because they can.

The DSM has a big table of diagnostic criteria for "antisocial personality disorder". But it lets the rich off the hook because it's considered normal for the rich to treat the poor badly and the DSM addresses disruptive deviation from cultural norms rather than illness. Someone could be delusional as hell and if they are able to avoid being socially disruptive, they won't get a diagnosis.

So the real differential diagnosis for psychopathy, obfuscated by the DSM, boils down to just one question: does this individual routinely disregard, without remorse, the legitimate rights of other living creatures?

The "second string" psychopaths are the ones who don't have to be, and who know that they're not smart enough (or not quite depraved enough) to get away with it usually. They come out from the woodwork when the political environment has become so corrupted that even they can get away with it, as now.
("psychopath" and "sociopath" are synonyms. Some professionals distinguish them, but few agree on how)

After pondering on that little lot, I'd say the case to prove psychopaths are running the USA would be easy to make.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Jessie Arms Botke

Born: May 27, 1883, Chicago, Illinois. Died: October 2, 1971, Ventura, California.
Born to English parents in Chicago in 1883, Jessie Arms Botke spent much of her free time as a child sketching and painting. At the age of fourteen, she took art classes at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. When she graduated from high school, she enrolled as a full-time student at the Institute. During her summer vacations she participated in intensive painting workshops in Michigan and Maine, which led to her first exhibition at the Art Institute's American Annual in 1904. After school, Botke worked in wall decoration and book illustration and refined her skills as a decorative artist. Inspired by an exhibition of friezes, decorations, and tapestries from Herter Looms of New York, Botke moved there in 1911 and immersed herself in the city's artistic climate. Several years later, she was employed at Herter Looms where she worked on tapestry design, painted panels and friezes, and began to specialize in painting birds.

In 1914, Jessie Hazel Arms met design artist Cornelius Botke in Chicago, and they married a year later. Together, the Botkes worked as artists in Chicago, San Francisco, and Carmel, CA, and they traveled often to New York City and Europe. They both worked on major art commissions and held their largest joint exhibition in 1942 at the Ebell Club, a conservative club for the advancement of women and culture. When Jessie's eyesight began to fail in 1961, she continued painting small watercolors until surgery and contact lenses restored her vision and she resumed painting full-time. A stroke in 1967 destroyed her ability to paint, and she died four years later at the age of 88.

"The indomitable Jessie Botke was one of the most celebrated decorative painters of the twentieth century. From her early plein-air landscapes to her decorative friezes and imaginary scenes, she arrived at a richly intricate mature style in the 1930s. Working in an era when many women artists were forced to abdicate their careers, Botke successfully integrated her painting with her personal and public life. That her work was accepted in the teens and twenties, and yet remained relevant in the sixties, is a testament to her staying power and the sheer beauty of her paintings." (Patricia Trenton and Deborah Epstein Solon; Birds, Boughs and Blossoms: Jessie Arms Botke (1883-1971); Williams A. Karges Fine Art, Spring 1995)

 Jessie and Cornelius Botke

Some of the artist's many bird paintings are shown in this video; dozens more can be seen via Google Image:

Her bird paintings are beautiful, but I also like her imaginative landscapes:

 The Pool
 An Idle Afternoon


Born on 27 May 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. Time of birth unknown - chart set for 12 noon.

The artist had planets concentrated in Earth and Air signs, with just Mars in Aries (Fire) and Jupiter in Cancer (Water) as balance. I suppose Earth and Air elements reflect her choice of subjects for her artwork: birds, many being of a species who don't spend all (or any of) their time in full flight.

Time of birth isn't known, but Moon would have been somewhere in Aquarius, and probably in trine to one or other of the Gemini planets.

There's a nice helpful sextile from Venus, planet of the arts, in its own sign of rulership Taurus, to Jupiter in, a little sentimentality, from Cancer, in the style of presentation of her subject matter; aalong with potential for Jupiterian wide distribution/appreciation.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


National Paper Airplane Day is an unofficial observance, celebrated on May 26 each year in the United States to commemorate the simple aeronautical toy.

Paper airplane day celebrations typically include social gatherings at which participants create and fly paper airplanes.

Really? How odd!

All the while, we await news, still, after 2 years, of lost real plane MH370 in the Indian Ocean, and more recently lost EgyptAir 804 in the Mediterranean, with all souls aboard both. RIP.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bernie's Cool Choices

Seizing Chance, Sanders Makes Bold Progressive Picks to Shape DNC Platform. Though compromised allotment falls short of Sanders' suggestion, Vermont Senator doesn't waste opportunity to make progressive choices.
Seizing on the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) reluctant concession allowing him to appoint five members to the committee that writes the party platform, Bernie Sanders on Monday announced a suite of picks that included activists across the progressive sphere.

Sanders' appointees to the 15-member Platform Drafting Committee include: racial justice activist and scholar Dr. Cornel West, co-founder and noted environmentalist Bill McKibben, Native American activist Deborah Parker, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and James Zogby, a pro-Palestinian scholar as well as founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI).

Senator Sanders has picked wisely and well! I'm especially pleased about Dr West's inclusion. I've been a fan of his since I first saw him as a guest on Bill Maher's TV show, back in 2008. Below is the post I wrote then - it's relevant also, with regard to yesterday's post, because Dr West has natal Sun+ in Gemini.

Drive-by Astrology # 1 - Dr. Cornel West

More often than not "drive-by" is used in connection with shootings. I'm going to put the term to use in a more peaceful context: "drive-by astrology". Whenever I come across an individual whose natal chart proves, on first sight, to be an exact fit for the person I perceive, I'll post the chart with very brief reasons why it fits its owner so clearly. I hope this will provide a chance to see astrology working "before your very eyes" !

First up in the drive-by series: Dr. Cornel West, author, lecturer, public speaker, social activist, democratic socialist and major figure in African American academia, including the illustrious Princeton and Harvard. I've seen Dr. West on several occasions as a guest on Bill Maher's "Real Time". Each time I've been impressed by his eloquence, charm and ability to hold my interest, whatever the subject under discussion. He obviously has a brilliant mind, yet his approach is straightforward and lacking in all the scholarly affectation so often encountered among the egg-head community.
A descriptive paragraph from here:

"...... an eloquent lecturer, whose lithe and energetic body was
totally involved in the torrent of words and ideas that tumbled from his mouth. He asked his listeners not only to hear what he said, but to enter into his thought processes and share his enthusiasms or generate their own thoughts and enthusiasms. His speaking style was symbolic of his convictions, which rejected the divorce of body from mind, of emotion from intellect, characteristic of much philosophy since Descartes. In a time when many philosophers would be horrified to be called preachers, West (although not an ordained minister) was not embarrassed to preach an occasional sermon. For him a passion for social justice was as intellectually respectable and demanding as the most rigorous intellectual analysis of propositions, and the two were never far apart in his philosophy."


Born on 2 June 1953 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (I didn't have him down as an Okie!)Birthtime unknown.

Sun and 3 planets in Gemini (the sign of mental process, communication, a quick mind). Good start! Two of the Gemini planets are conjoined, Mercury and Mars at 22 degrees. Mercury is at home in its own sign, Gemini, therefore unadulterated by other influence, though strengthened and energised by Mars.

Saturn and Neptune are conjoined in Libra (diplomacy and justice), Moon is in Aquarius between 9 and 22 degrees (social awareness). So, Air, the mental element, rules - Gemini, Libra and Aquarius predominate. Gemini and Libra planets in close trine, and the Moon is very likely in trine to both, though how close we can't be sure. What a circuit, enabling all kinds of mental acrobatics!

One more point - in January 2002 Dr. West underwent surgery for prostate cancer. Saturn (restriction, limitation) visited Gemini from May 2001 to Dec 2002, hitting his 4 Gemini planets one by one along its journey, reflecting what must have been a very worrying and restricting time for Dr. West.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gemini Considered

 Gemini by David Palladini

In his book, Astrology (pub.1964) Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but a poet and scholar, gathered together much of interest from a variety of sources, ancient and modern. On zodiac sign Gemini, through which the Sun now travels, he wrote the paragraphs below, quoting from a variety of professional astrologers. This extract was copy-typed by my own fair fingers, by the way, not copied and pasted from elsewhere. As some of the astrologers mentioned may be unfamiliar, at the end of the extract I've added some links to relevant websites for each named astrologer.

A mutable, airy sign, Gemini is ruled (easy to guess) by Mercury. The word "dialectical" might be applied here too, but more in the original Greek sense where "dialectic" meant conversation - a quick and most argumentative conversation, full of twists and traps and contradictions. all astrologers agree that the Gemini type enjoys argument; after all, this comes naturally to a double man, born under a double sign. Barbault stresses this "bipolarity" and points out that Gemini rules the lungs with their double process of breathing in and breathing out. He adds that if Aries symbolizes the original fire at the source of life, and Taurus the condensation of this life in a material form (as it were, an egg), it is when the process arrives at the stage of Gemini that this egg is polarized and we meet the differentiation into the masculine and feminine principles.

Morrish, in a not altogether dissimilar way, having equated Aries with the male creative impulse and Taurus with the matrix, takes Gemini to stand for that "self-conscious entity which is the result" (being the third and last sign in his phase of unit germination). And in a discussion of "astro-symbolism" in which Aries represents motion and Taurus inertia, he makes Gemini represent "rhythmic balance or oscillation." Also, Morrish finds in the hieroglyph of his sign two pillars, one light and one dark, a "portal through which every human being must pass."
Alternatively, he suggests that the two uprights of  the hieroglyph, traditionally equated with the "heavenly twins" Castor and Pollux, could as well be equated with two apes - the divine ape of intelligence and the chattering ape of imitation. This last piece of symbolism brings us back to dialectic or, we might as well say, to the good and the bad sides of Mercury.

Being both mutable and airy, Gemini is intellectual but fickle. (Pearce describes the Gemini type as having "disposition fickle, understanding good.") Ingrid Lind writes that he goes to "extremes of rationality" and possesses the "ability to live a double life." It has often been claimed by astrologers that many intellectuals are born under this sign. But, as indeed is often the case with intellectuals, the Gemini person is often emotionally cold. His congenial signs are Aquarius and Libra; he would not get on with cosy old Taurus. When we are told by Gleadow that Gemini is "pure intellect" and that no one is more mobile (a word frequently used of this sign), it is surprising to find him quoting Queen Victoria as someone who was born with Gemini rising...........

As regards the minor characteristics of Gemini people, Tucker notes that, if this is your Sun-sign, you may be inclined to vegetarianism. Barbault observes that Gemini women prefer two-piece suits and checkered materials. The physiognomist John Varley writes: "Gemini, though a beautiful and human sign, yet occasionally gives to persons born when it is rising [note that he is concerned with the ascendant, not the Sun-sign] a strong resemblance in the head and neck to the characteristic forms of goats, kid and deer."

This sign stands for nervous energy; the United States is said to be very much under its influence. among people born with Gemini rising many astrologers include Dante, Kepler, Wagner, Bernard Shaw, and Clemenceau. Barbault includes Conan Doyle in his list of Gemini types; he adds that Sherlock Holmes is a "popular Gemini hero." On the debit side, apart from producing madmen, it can (like its ruler Mercury) produce crooks and very selfish people.
Once again, in moving from this sign to the next, we find a complete change of atmosphere.
Astrologers mentioned:
André Barbault
A.J. Pearce
Dr. W.J. Tucker
Rupert Gleadow
Ingrid Lind
I, with airy Aquarius Sun, usually find instant easy rapport with Gemini-types ( not necessarily those with Sun in Gemini) and, something I find strange, much easier with Gemini-types than with Libra-types (Libra is the other airy zodiac sign) with whom I often have had problems. I've come up with several possible reasons, none of which are a really good fit. The obvious one has to be that it's not a good idea to rely on Sun sign only - nor even on Sun, ascendant and Moon signs combined. Digging deeper is essential - that, or forgetting astrology altogether and going along with one's intuition - which has been known to work out better at times!