Monday, July 23, 2018

Music Monday ~ A Choice

Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
by Paul Atwood
...The drumbeat is incessant and appears to have won most of the public to the faith that Russia is our mortal enemy again and a dire threat to our security. The lesson all should have learned in the wake of the missile crisis has been deep-sixed so long that few citizens today understand how our deliberately overwrought relations with the Soviets during the Cold War brought us within an eyelash width of nuclear holocaust. As many who were embedded in the national security state during those fraught years, like Daniel Ellsberg and former Defense Secretary William Perry and many others, have admonished us lately we are now in circumstances every bit as perilous as the darkest days of the Cold War. We have utterly forgotten the fact that the intense and growing extreme nationalism that is overtaking the planet is precisely the social virus that promoted two global wars in the last century.

Final paragraphs:
I personally hold Donald trump in contempt for many of the obvious reasons. Given everything he has supported since appearing on the political scene he seems the least-likely president to seek genuine rapprochement either with North Korea or Russia. Yet he is also ramping up conflict with Iran and supports the criminal war by Saudi Arabia against Yemen, the poorest and perhaps most ravaged nation on the planet. Still I cannot but support his attempt to find some way to reduce and stop the growing tensions with Russia and so should every sane American and demand key actions for a more peaceful world before events run out of control. Trump’s emphasis on reducing the threat of nuclear war and of shrinking the military spending that is bankrupting the U.S. by seeking some solid non-hostile relationship with Russia is astonishingly the sanest argument to come out of Washington, perhaps ever. Sanity exists in Russia too. I would fervently hope too that we can perceive that a growing antagonism toward China bodes ill as well.

But we must beware! The Hawks and the vultures are circling.

On Music Monday, what else is there to say but.....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Magical Scorpionic Words

With the content of Thursday's post touching on war and peace still skidding around in my mind, for this weekend I delved into the archives and pulled out this (now lightly edited) post from 2008. I love to read the words of the two featured writers, even though they bring tears to my eyes.

When someone with a good dollop of Scorpio in their natal chart writes, a certain magic seeps through. Two examples of such writers, never far from the top layers of my memory, are Carl Sagan and Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich doesn't have Sun in Scorpio (it's in Libra) but he has Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Venus there. Carl Sagan had Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in Scorpio.

Dennis Kucinich's "Spirit and Stardust" speech from June 2002 is a good example. Barack Obama was lauded for his inspiring speeches, which were probably written by a team of script writers - I'd bet a large amount of money that Dennis Kucinich wrote every word of "Spirit and Stardust" himself. Remember the movie "Crocodile Dundee"? When Dundee (Paul Hogan) was approached by a mugger with a knife, he reached for his own jumbo-sized knife and brandishing it said "That's not a knife - THIS is a knife". Well - Obama's aren't speeches - this is a speech! It can be read in full HERE. Below are brief snips from it:

Feel the magic...

"As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought back by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where stars are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces across space and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music of the spheres, atop an infinite sea of numbers.

Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic

We begin as a perfect union of matter and spirit

We need to remember where we came from; to know that we are one. To understand that we are of an undivided whole: race, color, nationality, creed, gender are beams of light, refracted through one great prism.... We become conscious of the cosmos within us. We hear the music of peace, we hear the music of cooperation, we hear music of love....

Our leaders think the unthinkable and speak of the unspeakable inevitability of nuclear war; of a nuclear attack on New York City, of terrorist attacks throughout our nation; of war against Iraq [in 2018, for Iraq read Russia] using nuclear weapons; of biological and chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations; of catastrophic global climate change; of war in outer space. When death (not life) becomes inevitable, we are presented with an opportunity for great clarity, for a great awakening, to rescue the human spirit from the arms of Morpheus through love, through compassion and through integrating spiritual vision and active citizenship to restore peace to our world....

Our vision of interconnectedness resonates with new networks of world citizens in nongovernmental organizations linking from numberless centers of energy, expressing the emergence of a new organic whole, seeking unity within and across national lines........

I have seen groups of people overcome incredible odds as they become aware they are participating in a cause beyond self and sense the movement of the inexorable which comes from unity. When you feel this principle at work, when you see spiritual principles form the basis of active citizenship, you are reminded once again of the merging of stardust and spirit. There is creativity. There is magic. There is alchemy."

And from Carl Sagan's masterwork, "COSMOS"

"For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. This perspective is a courageous continuation of our penchant for constructing and testing mental models of the skies; the Sun as a red-hot stone, the stars as a celestial flame, the Galaxy as the backbone of night.
Page 193
National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars. There are not yet obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours rush inevitably headlong to self-destruction. I dream about it, and sometimes they're bad dreams.
Page 318
We have heard the rationales offered by the nuclear superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?
Page 329
If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
Page 339
We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands. The loom of time and space works the most astonishing transformations of matter. "

Friday, July 20, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ "Nanu"

This is fun!
Famous Artists Depicted As Animals In Art History In Series Of Humorous Illustrations

The artists illustrated by Krishna "Nanu" Chavda cover more genres than painters, but for Arty Farty Friday I've borrowed a trio of painters as samples - do go see the rest!
Chavda’s imagination is so wild, she sees famous artists in animals. She has created a series of 10 illustrations based on either a self-portrait of an artist, one of their artworks, or the artists’ art-making techniques.
The artist, Krishna Chavda, originally from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, spent much of her time as a child drawing or building something from paper with tape and staples. In 2011, she earned her MFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The artist's own website is HERE.

Note: My own archived post on Keith Haring is HERE.

Note: One of my own archived posts on Jackson Pollock is HERE.

Note: I could've sworn I'd done a post on Leonardo, but if I did, it's lost, sunk without trace! Here's a mention in one of my posts, of another artist who has written and illustrated a book about the great Leonardo:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Warmongering Media

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. I will not make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, the media, or Democrats who want to resist and obstruct.” ~ Donald Trump.

“Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”
Tweet by Donald Trump.

In the sidebar of this blog, if one scrolls right down, there's a small illustration declaring: "Blog Peace". Honouring it, I'm linking to a recent article and comments. The article is by Norman Solomon:

Climb Down From the Summit of Hostile Propaganda.

In Mr Solomon's 2nd and 3rd paragraphs he writes
Contempt for diplomacy with Russia is now extreme. Mainline U.S. journalists and top Democrats often bait President Trump in zero-sum terms. No doubt Hillary Clinton thought she was sending out an applause line in her tweet Sunday night: “Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

A bellicose stance toward Russia has become so routine and widespread that we might not give it a second thought — and that makes it all the more hazardous. After President George W. Bush declared “You’re either with us or against us,” many Americans gradually realized what was wrong with a Manichean view of the world. Such an outlook is even more dangerous today.

Please do go and read the article - it's not arduously long, and makes many good points - as do some of the comments beneath it.

A comment by Joe Tedesky particularly hit home for me:

It’s apparent that there are many Americans who neither fear war, or they believe that war will never happen, and this I truly believe is a result of these Americans having never experienced war first hand. It’s all an imaginary threat if it’s anything at all. Why any war that is to be will not be fought here, because we fight them over there. Lastly America is the sole super power, and everybody knows that, so where’s the worry?

Reflecting back on the sixties when Left Wing meant peace marches, and advocating for peace, is now a distance memory of a mass ideology which helped to wing down the Vietnam war. Back then these anti-war protesters were all we had to beat down the warmongering DC mindset. The peace advocate of the sixties was determined to bring peace to the world. The music of its era reflects this mindset. Maybe we should have a national oldies day, and try and catch that spirit again… Joanne Mitchell, Richie Havens, anyone?

If you had told me some fifty years ago that the Left would someday be the purveyors of war instigation, I would not have believed you, but turning points and the truth often don’t reconcile in a society gone mad.

I'm a (naturalised) American who has experienced war first hand - albeit when I was very young, back in England. I came into a world on the brink of war - World War 2. I sincerely hope not to go out of this world on the brink of (or in the midst of) another, even more horrendous war between the two greatest nuclear powers on the planet.

From Mike K

There is certainly a lot that is terribly wrong with Donald Trump’s policies, but this does not justify the totally illegal and immoral attempt to unseat him on the basis of a bunch of concocted lies. Some of us are called upon to hold our noses, while defending Trump and the office of the Presidency from unconstitutional fascist style attacks. The ugly warmongering being used to attack Trump constitutes a clear and present danger that must be countered to preserve our very existence.

When forces within our society are willing to risk the extinction of humanity for narrow political and economic gain, it is time for us to wake up and call a halt to this madness.

Another excellent, much longer, detailed piece on the same website is by Joe Lauria:

US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference

The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

This comment by "Banger" is noteworthy:

It’s just over for those of us on the old left. The Orwellian nature of the media has taken hold and we are powerless against it. We have a population utterly uncurious of facts or history, logic or science, rationality or erudition. It’s over. People want to belong, want to share their anger at whatever enemy there is no matter how ludicrous is that threat from the enemy. This is how the oligarch has decided to use Trump’s election–first to divide us on tribal grounds and second to invent some enemy that uses all the mythology of Hollywood villains with Russian accents. It’s working and it means the oligarchs are unassailable and now are able to control public opinion with a bunch of gestures on the screen and the population will bark on command. Goebbels is, somewhere, cackling with delight.

We will be lucky if we avoid war, fortunately the professional military understands the situation much better than the civilian leaders and have put brakes on our drift into permanent major war everywhere.

Let us hope fervently that "Banger's" final paragraph proves to be correct.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Law & Order SVU's Smart Casting

In these days of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu and so on, we can have police procedurals, detective series, and law court oriented dramas coming out of our ears! They do tend to become wearying at times. One such, a long-established TV series, also available for streaming, never gets old for us: Law and Order SVU.

The pairing in SVU of Benson and Stabler (played to perfection by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni) had a lot to do with the original attraction. When Stabler left the show we wondered whether it'd die a gradual death, at least on our own viewing schedule - it didn't! We still watch episodes of the series both on the USA channel, where re-runs are common, as well an occasional 'live' episode on NBC, or on whichever streaming source is offering 'em. For us, SVU is the only TV series with the "it never gets old" accolade.

I recently read the following pieces of trivia, but interesting trivia, about Law and Order SVU. See more in the whole piece at HERE

Hargitay & Meloni’s Chemistry was Instantaneous, even at Their Audition

Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay met for the first time at their audition. The final casting call was down to three women (Hargitay, Reiko Aylesoworth, and Samantha Mathis) and three men (Meloni, Tim Matheson, and Nick Chinlund). Hargitay had heard that a friend-of-a-friend would be among them, so she walked in, saw Meloni, who she didn't know, and assumed that he was the guy. She shouted the actor's name, and Meloni stood up and shouted his own name instead, in fake recognition. Since she was already standing, they ended up in a huge hug, despite having never met before.

She noticed the big tattoo on his arm of Jesus on the cross, and asked, hopefully, if he was a Christian. When he said no, she asked why he had the tattoo. "Just liked his commitment," he told her.

They auditioned individually, and then the casting directors started pairing up the finalists. Hargitay crossed her fingers, and knew as soon as they said, "Mariska and Chris" that they were going to make magic. So did producers; as soon as the actors all left, no debate was needed. They'd found their stars...

SVU is currently in its 18th season, and while Chris Meloni isn't on the show anymore, he's still tight with former co-star Mariska Hargitay. She's the godmother to one of his children, and they recently got together and posted a selfie on Instagram, making fans drool at the possibility that Stabler might one day make his way back to the show. Fingers crossed!


What about the astrology of this pair of actors? I'd already spotted that Ms Hargitay and I share a Sun sign in early Aquarius ( - see this archived post), but I've never posted her chart, nor have I looked into Chris Meloni's astrology until now. So....

Mariska Hargitay, born 23 January 1964 in Santa Monica, California, at 5.58 AM

Christopher Meloni born on 2 April 1961 in Washington DC, at 1.52 AM

Alrighty then...not far to seek for the key ingredients linking these two charts and these two personalities! His natal Sun at 12 Aries conjoins her natal Jupiter at 13 Aries; Her Sun and Mars at 2 and 8 degrees of Aquarius respectively, conjoin his Jupiter at 2 Aquarius, with natal Saturn conjoined, over the cusp from 28 Capricorn.

Natal Jupiter would appear to be key here to the 'chemistry' between the two actors. Additionally, in Ms Hargitay's chart there are 2 Yods (Fingers of Fate) involving Jupiter. One Yod links generational Neptune to generational Uranus/Pluto by sextile, then links both to natal Jupiter via two 150 degree angles known as quincunxes. The other Yod links Jupiter to Mars by sextile and both to generational Uranus by quincunx. What does all of that mean? "Proper" astrologers might differ, but I see it as more evidence that Jupiter (expansion, abundance, generosity, publication - of which acting is a form) is a strong "vibe" in her personality. Chris Meloni's Jupiter lay in his first house of self at time of birth, which puts Jupiter (along with Saturn (matters relating to the law) in the front seat of his personality too.

A passing thought unrelated to the TV series: my husband, anyjazz, has Sun in Aries (like Chris) and I have Sun in early Aquarius (like Mariska) - we gelled immediately too. His natal Jupiter at 23 Capricorn conjoins my Mercury at 21 Capricorn! My natal Jupiter at 6 Aquarius is close enough to his natal Sun at 1 Aries to be termed conjunct. Hmm! Yet many would still say astrology is nothing but rubbish!!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Music Monday ~ The Poetry of It

Country music may be an acquired taste, I know that it is viewed with a certain disdain by some so-called liberals in the USA, perhaps due to the genre's connection to a perceived (rightly or wrongly) right-wing political flavour. I'm not a 'liberal', I suppose my label, if I must have a label, would be 'lefty', but I've loved country music from my first introduction to it in the late 1990s, back in Europe - not in the UK, but in the Canary Islands. There, of course, country music didn't have the taint of politics attached, so I experienced it clean and unadulterated.

What brought on that rantette? Well, I caught a few bars of a well-loved country song the other day, hadn't heard it for years. It struck me, once again, that there's a lot of poetry embedded in country lyrics! Rodney Crowell's lovely words in "'Til I Can Gain Control Again" are what inspired this post.

Just like the sun over the mountain top
You know I'll always come again
You know I love to spend my morning time
Like sunlight dancing on your skin

I've never gone so wrong as to telling lies to you
What you've seen is what I've been
There is nothing I could hide from you
You see me better than I can

Out on the road that lies before me now
There are some turns where I will spin
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again

Like a lighthouse you must stand alone
Landmark the sailor's journeys end
No matter what sea I've have been sailing on
I'll always roll this way again

Out on the road that lies before me now
There are some turns where I will spin
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again

Songwriter: Rodney J. Crowell.

The song has been recorded by numerous artists, as well as by its writer; best known recordings are by Emmy Lou Harris and Willy Nelson. Just for a change though, I enjoy hearing the Walker Brothers' cover version, I've always loved Scott Walker's voice:

Here's Emmy Lou's classic version: