Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Stray Thought

Once I was a computer.

Not only me - millions of others too. We all were computers! Those of us who worked mainly in office environments were creating card indexes; indexing writers' texts; keeping ledgers, and adding up very long columns of figures therein - mentally; adding together the prices of multiple purchases - mentally; filing; keeping records of bookings and appointments in apple pie order; checking spelling using a dictionary; punching cards (I didn't ever do that)...and so on. Other work environments had their own list of essential duties to be carried out by flesh and blood computers. Most of those tasks are now managed by our techno-counterparts, at the press of a few keys. We humans still press the keys though - for now!

Vintage Everyday website has a good set of vintage photographs of office workers in the 1920s - they were computers too, of course. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Donkey Talk

Husband uncharacteristically failed to write a caption for this vintage photograph from his collection. He says he concentrated on the fact that some colouriser, at some point had been tinkering with it, and coloured just the trees.

For a bigger version (recommended) click on the image, the bigger image which appears can be made even larger (if your screen is up to it) by clicking on the down-pointing arrow (at far right) under the photo. A selection of sizes is offered there.


My brain's not at what it calls its best today - too many pills, but I've come up with:

Donkey to another donkey: Her skirt tickles...but if she ever takes that hat off, I'm eating those flowers.

Other Donkey: We trek 50 yards, then a photograph? I suppose these people think they're doing the Great Outdoors thing. Pike's Peak this ain't! Snort!

First donkey: Hey, have you noticed something funny about the trees round here?

Anybody willing to help out with something a tad better?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Abominables #4 ~ The Bosnian Genocide - Biljana Plavšić (and others)

A major problem in this "Real Abominables" exercise is in obtaining accurate birth data for indviduals involved, once these characters have been identified as having some level of leadership in the atrocities and genocides.

Oliver Cromwell, devasted Ireland and its inhabitants centuries ago, but there's no reliable birth data for him. Likewise, for Andrew Jackson, a figure involved in the Native American genocides in the early days of this nation. Even for Joseph Stalin, and some other well-known characters, there isn't a truly reliable set of data. I was about to start on a post about the man known as "Chemical Ali" due to his horrendous crimes in Iraq, real name Ali Hassan al-Majid, only to find that there's doubt on his birth data too.

I've decided to draw the series to a close now, by looking at one of the several figures involved in the Bosnian Genocide of the 1990s. Not Slobodan Milosovic, the best-known name involved in those events, because his birth data rated only a DD at Astrodienst. Even if I discount a time of birth and go with 12 noon, I'm not even 100% confident about the date. But, for reference, astrologer Lynn Hayes has written an astrological profile on him with the data available...see HERE.

I'm going to take a look at the chart of a female who was involved at a high level in the Bosnian Genocide: Biljana Plavšić. I have checked her date of birth in the case report, so it appears to be reliable, though with no birth time known.

It's not easy to nutshell the background to these events. To keep the post a reasonable length. I shall rely on bare bones, and brief borrowings only, with links to more detail from reliable websites.

Genocide in Bosnia (1992-1995)

Although many different ethnic and religious groups had resided together for 40 years under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government, this changed when the country began to collapse during the fall of communism in the early 1990s. The provinces of Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, and war quickly followed between Serbia and these breakaway republics. Ethnic tensions were brought to the forefront, and people who had lived peacefully for years as neighbors turned against each other and took up arms. When Bosnia attempted to secede, Serbia – under Slobodan Miloševic’s leadership – invaded with the claim that it was there to “free” fellow Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia.

Starting in April 1992, Serbia set out to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian territory by systematically removing all Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Serbia, together with ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attacked Bosniaks with former Yugoslavian military equipment and surrounded Sarajevo, the capital city. Many Bosniaks were driven into concentration camps, where women and girls were systematically gang-raped and other civilians were tortured, starved and murdered.

Biljana Plavšić, was a leading Bosnian Serb political figure holding a senior office before, during and after the 1992-1995 conflict. She participated in the persecutions of Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb populations in 37 municipalities. Plavšić supported a campaign of ethnic separation which resulted in the death of thousands of civilians and the expulsion of thousands more from municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in circumstances of great brutality, by inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force.

Mrs Plavsic came to politics late in life, after a career as a biologist, in which she published about 100 scholarly papers. She was appointed professor of biology at Sarajevo University in 1956 before taking up further academic posts in Prague and the United States.

She became a deputy to the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, known by some as "Butcher of Bosnia".

Biljana Plavšić was renowned throughout the 1990s as an uncompromising apologist of ethnic cleansing. Mrs Plavsic was virulently anti-Muslim. The self-styled "Serbian Iron Lady" once defended the purge of Bosnian non-Serbs as "a natural phenomenon" not a war crime.

She once insisted:"There are 12 million Serbs and even if six million perish on the field of battle, there will still be six million to reap the fruits of the struggle."
Even Slobodan Milosevic regarded her as a radical. Her outbursts led him to question her mental health, while Mr Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, dubbed her a "female Mengele" in a reference to the notorious Nazi doctor.

In 1992, a widely-circulated photograph showed her stepping over the body of a dead Muslim civilian to kiss the notorious Serb warlord Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan. But a decade later, she pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity, and apologised to "all the innocent victims of the Bosnian war - Muslims, Croats and Serbs alike".

Her change of heart was seen by some as a calculated manouevre to win a reduced sentence, and by others as part of a sincere and steady evolution of her attitudes to the Balkan wars.

She herself said that she had nothing to gain by seeking a reduced sentence, because at her age (72) even moderate 10-year jail term would in practice mean spending the rest of her life behind bars. In the event, she got 11 years. She was released after serving six years, in October 2009. See HERE.

 Welcomed back to Belgrade in October 2009

World without Genocide
Hague Justice Portal


Two things stand out for me: Sun conjunct Pluto and Mars conjunct Fixed Star Algol, which, at the time of her birth would have been at 25 degrees of Taurus and some minutes.

Algol is a Fixed Star ancient astrologers cast as malefic and unfortunate. Some modern astrologers strive to find a positive side to it, and no doubt in certain circumstances it can turn out to have had its benefits. (See astrologer Yasmin Boland's piece HERE)

More appropriate to this present finding of Mars conjunct Algol in Plavšić's natal chart is astrologer Joni Patry's article Fixed Stars and Mass Murders, HERE.
Ms Patry points out that Mars conjunct Algol was also present in the natal chart of Osama Bin Laden.

Sun conjunct Pluto is described at Darkstar Astrology as: The Darth Vader of all Sun aspects. This is high contrast and stark lighting. The brighter the Sun the darker the shadow and that is just what we get here.

There's obviously more to be said about this natal chart, but I'm going to stop there, with what I see as the points of major significance.

This post is the last of a short weekly series looking at charts of some of The Real Abominables. Perhaps another post on this topic will stray in at some point in the future, when enthusiasm strikes again; and if so will be linked back to this recent set.

What has shown up as being reasonably common factors from this very small sample? I've noticed well-integrated Pluto, bundled chart shapes, some emphasis on Fixed Stars.

POSTSCRIPT: I would not wish to ignore, for the purposes of this series, the beyond horrendous Nazi Holocaust and its perpetrators. However, all has been analysed again and again elsewhere, over time. Here are links to two fairly recent pieces of interest. The first takes in, briefly, many high level Nazi leaders with points on their natal charts seen as significant by astrologer Jamie Pardridge at Astrology King blog: Nazi Horoscopes. Another piece, Hitler and the Golden Yod at Chirotic Journal blog has an interesting take on Hitler's chart.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dylan Thomas - born a century ago today

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born on this day, 27 October, in the year 1914 in Swansea, Wales, UK. Astrotheme has his time of birth listed as 8.56pm.

His natal planets were a blend of Scorpio and Aquarius, in challenging square, an uneasy mix! If the birth time is accurate, ultra-sensitive Cancer would be his rising sign, the lens through which he viewed, and was viewed by, the world at large.

Pluto, his Scorpio Sun's ruler, in Cancer, is tightly conjunct Saturn, and is in harmonious trine to his Sun, and more widely to his Moon in late Aquarius - together these form a Grand Trine, a circuit of intense emotion, with a touch of the unexpected thrown in. The Grand Trine mostly reflects the poet's darkly emotional style, which often verges on the neurotic, a style difficult to describe and appreciate unless the reader has some similarity of nature. There's an undercurrent of despair, sometimes anger running through many of his poems. That anger comes courtesy of Mercury (writing and mental processes) conjunct Mars (anger, energy) in Scorpio (passionate emotion).

Neptune at 00 Leo opposite Uranus in Aquarius was an aspect between slow-moving outer planets shared by a whole age group. The dynamic pull between creativity, imagination and an avant garde style - for the times - is recognisable in many of his generation. This opposition of unruly Uranus and addictive Neptune is also in square, challenging aspect to his natal Sun, his history of alcohol abuse may connect here, also to the lack of grounding Earth planets in his natal chart.

In tribute to Dylan Thomas, a century later - his poem about his birthday:

Poem In October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

LYDIA the Astro-lady

This is an edited version of an old post from my first few months of astrology blogging, posted in January 2007. Not a bad idea, I thought at first, but having to draw and scan Lydia regularly would become a bit of a nuisance, as husband has the scanner and printer attached to his computer in another room. So Lydia disappeared as abruptly as she had arrived. Here she is, resurrected, with a couple of newly updated messages.

Meet AstroLydia. As Groucho Marx once sang "You can learn a lot from Lydia".....Lydia the astrolady.

She's composed of trines, squares, oppositions and conjunctions - aren't we all ?

"Uranus squaring Pluto multiple times between 2012 and 2015 - no cause for alarm -best advice,  loosen up and go with the flow - not always easy is it?"

I've been in hibernation since 2007, dreaming that when I woke I'd find a world far more conscious of what's happening to the climate and more involved in doing something about it. What y'all been doing for the past seven years? Crank up your Mercury - start complaining to your politicians!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Edward Gorey - Quirk without Qualm, Outstandingly Outlandish.

Whatever else he did, cartoonist, illustrator and writer Edward Gorey inspired numerous other writers and artists to use multiple adjectives when describing his work, and himself: merry but macabre, eclectic and eccentric, whimsically wicked...and more. He's a good candidate, then, as Arty Farty Friday subject for the week leading to Hallowe'en.

Edward Gorey was born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM, according to Astrodienst. He suspected that he had inherited his, mainly self-taught, artistic talents from a great grandmother who had been a popular nineteenth-century greeting card writer and artist. Sources describe Gorey as having been something of a child prodigy, exceptionally bright for his age. He grew up in Chicago and in teenage years started his artistic career early, publishing illustrations in the local newspaper. His time in Art School was cut short by world War II when was drafted into the U.S. Army. After the war he attended Harvard, studied French, was involved in the theater, graduated in 1950. He spent some time in Boston before moving to New York City to work for Doubleday Publishers, illustrating books and book covers.

Gorey published his own first book in 1953, an illustrated novella, The Unstrung Harp...or Mr Earbrass writes a novel. While continuing to illustrate for magazines and other authors, he began producing his own work, selling it in New York's Gotham Book Mart. In 1961 he founded his own publishing firm, Fantod Press.

“Mr Earbrass stands on the terrace at twilight. It is bleak; it is cold; and the virtue has gone out of everything. Words drift through his mind: anguish turnips conjunctions illness defeat string parties no parties urns desuetude disaffection claws loss Trebizond napkins shame stones distance fever Antipodes mush glaciers incoherence labels miasma amputation tides deceit mourning elsewards...”

Edward Gorey used many pseudonyms over the years, often based on anagrams of his own name. His pseudonyms included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Wardore Edgy and Eduard Blutig… He never married and said he considered himself "asexual". He was a fan of ballet and theater, worked on stage design for a company in the town where he had a summer home, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 1977, his design for a Broadway revival of Dracula won him a Tony award for costumes.

Gorey's cartoons and illustrations depict a weird Edwardian world inhabited by formally dressed men and women, often alongside strange but relatively harmless fantastical creatures. He occasionally offered thinly veiled cynical comment on the social scene. Alphabets, a parody on tarot cards, stories of children, not necessarily for children, limericks - all were treated to Gorey's signature whimsical weirdness, always with a faint hint of benign or comical menace.

Gorey, personally, is described like this at a PBS website devoted to their Mystery series for which illustrations of his are used as introduction:

Tall and lean, Gorey was bearded, but otherwise gloriously bald. He wore earrings and used to go about in long fur coats before his conscience got the better of him and he earned the blessing of animal rights activists by shedding his furs permanently. Gorey never married and admitted to no romantic relationships. He lived by himself in a rambling home in Yarmouth on Cape Cod, that dated back nearly 200 years. When he was not working on the 100 or so projects he had outlined for himself at any given time, he cared for his brood of six cats or indulged himself in one of his many special interests, mostly sedentary pursuits like watching old movies he taped off his satellite dish or zoning out on his favorite television shows, such as The X-Files.

Though Gorey has was called a recluse, he really did not behave like one. For nearly 30 years, he attended every performance of the New York City Ballet until the death of his artistic idol, choreographer George Balanchine. He ate both breakfast and lunch each day at Jack's Out Back restaurant in Yarmouthport, where he happily signed autographs for the occasional fan.

Often mistakenly labeled as "morbid," Gorey is was in fact a rather cheerful individual, whose sharply pungent observations were laced with a ready wit. He was a superbly entertaining conversationalist who frequently enlivened a chat by humorously slipping into a falsetto voice or punctuating his remarks with a "turkey gobble" sound that one isn't likely to hear ever again.

Gorey's friend, author Alexander Theroux, wrote about him:

" Gorey was a man of very peculiar habits: "I still see myself just sitting in his kitchen. There was always a melancholy tone to his voice, and he would give you white toast with a cinnamon shaker...........He was very campy, in the Susan Sontag sense," Theroux continues. "He could also be very serious. He read every book possible. He had wide interests. There wasn't a subject that didn't interest him. I always said I wondered which Edward Gorey would show up on a given day. He was a film critic, he was interested in cooking. He was a man that would seem to be a bird of paradise, very ornate — but he could be a quiet and subdued and fairly shy person." And you wouldn't know it from looking at his drawings, but Gorey also loved soap operas, especially All My Children.

"He would sew beanbags while he watched television," Theroux says of Gorey's eclectic habits. "He went to the movies almost every night. He could segue from reading a book on Wittgenstein to watching The Golden Girls. He was curious about everything, which is a great virtue in a person. He needed to have a lot of movement in his mind, a lot of water going over the stones in his mind."

Theroux says his old friend was a true free spirit; a curious, kind and adventurous soul.
"Edward was one of the few people I ever knew who did exactly what he wanted," he says. "He went his own way."

Edward Gorey died in April, 2000.

Other sources: Wikipedia; Info please; The Comics Journal.

Please click on any image for a sharper, clearer view of it.

These are my two favourites...


Data from Astrodienst:
born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM. (AA rating - very reliable)

What do you get when a heavily concentrated dose of Aquarius and Pisces is mixed with multiple aspect patterns linking up any stray, spread, planets harmoniously or otherwise? A weird and rather wonderful personality such as Edward Gorey!

It'd be hard to find another chart with such a strong mix of Pisces/Aquarius - his Sun and Moon conjoined, and Uranus are in Pisces. Mercury and Venus are next door in Aquarius, Venus (the arts) making semi-sextile aspect to Uranus (eccentricity). Gorey simply had to develop into some manner of creative eccentric didn't he?!

His rising sign, Virgo, has reflection in his artwork - in the meticulous hatching and detail present in a lot of his drawings.

Pluto in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio link by harmonious trine to one or other of the Pisces planets, forming a Water Grand Trine, adding hints of a certain darkness to an established creative eccentricity.

There's a chart configuration astrologers call a "mystic rectangle" (the green oblong with red diagonal cross), and a Grand Square (the red square with red cross), both quite easy to see in the illustration. Rather than going into detail about planets and signs involved, which could take many paragraphs(and become confusing for both writer and reader), I think it's sufficient to say that his chart is so well-integrated, his personality, eccentric though it may have been, would not have been a difficult one for him to deal with - he was able to embrace it, warts and all.

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