Tuesday, June 19, 2018

JUNETEENTH - Today, 19 June.

When I arrived in the USA, 14 years ago, I'd never heard of Juneteenth. I have to admit too, that for years I had only the vaguest of ideas what it's all about. For anyone else in the same state of semi-ignorance, here are links to a couple of good, helpful articles.

12 Things You Might Not Know About Juneteenth
By Stacy Conradt.

That piece begins:
There's more than one Independence Day in the U.S. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced that slaves were now free. Since then, June 19 has been celebrated as Juneteenth across the nation. Here's what you should know about the historic event and celebration....
Texas Matters: Juneteenth Stories And Why They Matter
By David Martin Davies.
June 19 1865 is when word of emancipation finally reached Texas and its slave population. The news was delivered two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and about two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered.

But what did "emancipation" mean for the no-longer slaves? Many were quickly reabsorbed into an economic system that looked similar to the slavery life. Others found liberty by establishing Freedom Colonies across the South, town-like communities of former slaves that frequently became self-sustaining. Nevertheless, the freedom to self-determine and pursue one's abilities and dreams to the fullest would be generations away. And even today there is still work to be done.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Music Monday ~ "Are we not formed, as notes of music are, For one another, though dissimilar?"

The quote in the post's heading is from Percy Bysshe Shelley, by the way.

Music and astrology have quite a lot in common. Both rely on a limited but still potentially vast collection of possible content, based on a non-negotiable structure.

In music the structure is notes on a stave; in astrology, it's planets in the zodiac. Both have a kind of mathematics at their core. In music it's the beat, the time, the rhythm - 3/4 time/ 4/4 time etc. In astrology it's 360 degrees split into 12 segments and aspects formed between them: 90 degree squares, 120 degree trines, 180 degree oppositions etc. These mix with the rhythmic integrated waves of Fire to Earth, to Air to Water, to Fire.... Cardinal to Fixed to Mutable to Cardinal....
The pleasure we obtain from music comes from counting, but counting unconsciously. Music is nothing but unconscious arithmetic. ~Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
There's a branch of astrology known as Harmonics, which I, being mathematically challenged, haven't as yet managed to master.
Astrologer Bob Marks says : (HERE)
"This has to be one of the greatest advances in astrological analysis of the last hundred years. What are "harmonics?" Just a mathematical rearrangement of the horoscope so that we can see particular features more clearly. It's something like taking a cross-section of a sample in biology and putting it under a microscope."
Pythagoras, an early Greek mathematician and astronomer was the first to discover a mathematical relationship in the frequencies of the various tones of the musical scale. In postulating the planets' orbits as bearing a similar relationship based upon the distance from the center, he characterized their interrelated orbits as "the harmony of the spheres." (Nicholas deVore - Encyclopedia of Astrology)

So really, with a bit of imagination, each human being could be seen, astrologically, as a piece of music, a song. The exact positions of the planets, and arrangement in respect to one another, as we came into the world dictates our "tune", and therefore has much bearing on which other "tunes", real and human, we can most easily harmonize with.
There is in souls a sympathy with sounds:
And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased
With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies.

~William Cowper

When I first posted on this topic in 2009, commenter 'anthonynorth' wrote:
"Music is so important to all these systems. I've read about Baroque music being based in alchemy, and many mystics have allied music to their systems."

I responded that "I think what they, and we, sense is the edge of the tip of an iceberg of knowledge that'll emerge teeny bit by teeny bit over coming centuries...if man survives."

Sunday, June 17, 2018


My own Dad died in 1992. He'd be amazed to know that his photographs are being sent into cyber-space, and to know exactly where his only child, his daughter, was sitting - in Oklahoma U.S.A - sending them winging out!

My Dad was the eldest son of 10 siblings, 5 male, 5 female. He had to leave school earlier than he would have wished in order to contribute to family finances. After a couple of nondescript jobs he acquired an apprenticeship to a local baker, eventually became a master baker himself, managed a group of bakeries in Hull during the war years. After the war he and mother never worked for an employer again, they remained self-employed, first building up and running their own small but successful and much sought out, bakery business. They worked so darned hard! Dad was up every day before 4 a.m. making bread, there were few rest days, few vacations. Mum ran their small bakery store. After around a decade they decided to move on to try other things, always remaining self-employed. What followed included a fruit and veg. store, a small private hotel on the coast, a tourist snack bar, a coffee bar with juke box. Then my Dad was accepted as a sub-postmaster and they went on to run some sub-post offices - mixed business stores combined with post office business. So my Dad, by the last years of his working life via a convoluted and very varied route, was able to do a job similar to that he had longed for as a schoolboy - to work in the post office or in the offices of the local railway company.

 Around 1990





 About 1947

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Mini-rant, Politically Motivated.

I seldom, these days, blog about anything relating to U.S. politics, or manage to find an article which echoes, nearly, my own feelings about everybody's favourite Demon of the Day, Month, Year, Decade: President Donald Trump.

I've become so disgusted with online pundits, reports of late night hosts' constant jokes and derisions, and the same old same old stuff, day after day, about Trump, and his wife (who can do nothing right, while Saint Michelle Obama could do no wrong!)

Yes, we know, and have known since 2016, that Donald Trump should never be anywhere within a thousand miles of the US presidency. Enough US citizens did put him there, he didn't get there by magic! I do wish some people would start dealing with this eventuality in a more adult way! I sometimes feel, reading, or hearing things political, as though I'm in a flippin' high school classroom!

President Trump's latest adventure, in Singapore, has brought down, as expected, more sneers. While there's no guarantee anything positive will eventually come of it - who could deny that it was a step in the right general direction - albeit a baby step? It's still more than Saint Obama managed in his two terms - he was too busy sending out drones!

Anyway, back to my first remark: here is a piece I can agree with. Maybe I'm turning Libertarian in my old age? That was the way I voted in 2016, anyway - to avoid voting for either Clinton or Trump. T'was our only alternative in Oklahoma. I've never been a Democrat anyway, always Independent, from first registering to vote, in 2008. The Democrats have been sliding further and further downward in my estimation since then - not least due to their dastardly efforts to stop Bernie Sanders from gaining the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

North Korea: Pelosi Versus Peace
by Thomas Knapp

It begins:
Which is worse: The specter of nuclear war, or giving US president Donald Trump credit for a significant diplomatic accomplishment?

In her official statement on Trump’s Singapore summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi makes it clear that a few million incinerated human beings are a small price to pay to keep the 68-year-old Korean War going. Maybe not forever, but at least until there’s a Democrat in the White House.
And ends:
A genuine and durable peace on the Korean peninsula may or may not be achievable, but Trump seems to be giving it the old college try. Pelosi and her party, having proven unable to lead and unwilling to follow on the matter, should at least have the decency to get the hell out of the way.

Bravo Mr Knapp!

Link to a post I wrote about the North Korean situation in 2013:
North Korea - The Unknowns

Postscript - After drafting the above I came across a couple more pieces whose authors are thinking along similar lines to Thomas Knapp - and your friendly ranting Blogger:
By John Laurits: Brand Marketing a Political Party: Inside the Democrats’ Fake Opposition.

And, The Democrats Out-Right the Right on North Korean Summit by Ajamu Baraka.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ "The Father of African-American Art"

 Portrait by Betsy Graves Reyneau.
Aaron Douglas
(26 May 1899 - 2 February 1979) - "The Father of African-American Art." I didn't choose him because of the title bestowed by his peers and those influenced by his example, but rather because I love his work and style. What better reason? His style is described in an exhibition catalogue as "combining angular cubist rhythms, seductive art deco style, and traditional African and African American imagery to develop his own unique visual vocabulary”.

Aaron Douglas was born in Topeka, Kansas, a baker's son. Topeka had a thriving black community. They followed progressive intellectual and social doctrines and had strong leadership which provided Douglas with many role models at an early age. Douglas was encouraged by his mother to continue his creative interest in art. His most serious decision in becoming an artist came from his exposure to the African-American printer, Henry Ossawa Tanner.

Douglas educated himself despite many obstacles. He joined the exodus to the north after high school, in order to earn money to pursue a college degree. In 1917 he attended the University of Nebraska. He graduated from Nebraska with a B.A. in Fine Arts in 1922. Douglas taught art at Lincoln High School in Topeka for two years, then was accepted as illustrator for Dr. Alain Locke's new book, The New Negro, published in 1925.

Douglas and his wife, Alta, later moved to Paris, France, where he expanded his knowledge of painting and sculpture. In Paris Douglas met his idol Henry Ossawa Tanner. On his return to the U.S. in 1928, Douglas became the first president of the Harlem Artists Guild. In 1929 he traveled to Chicago to create a mural for the Shermon Hotel's College Inn Ballroom. At the end of 1930 Douglas created another mural for Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. For his efforts, Douglas became known as the "Dean" among his fellow students. From 1939 to 1966 Douglas was a professor of Art at Fisk University. He later became department head before he retired in 1966.

Aaron Douglas is probably best known for his Aspects of Negro Life, a series of four murals completed under the sponsorship of the Works Progress Adminstration in 1934. The murals trace the history of African Americans from Africa through their migration to America's northern cities. In Aspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers, Douglas presents jazz iconically in the figure of the saxophone player. The musician is an emblem of the intersections of African heritage, African American culture, and national identity.

A 12 noon chart has to suffice as no time of birth is known for Mr. Douglas.
Born 26 May 1899 in Topeka, Kansas.

Sun, Pluto and and Neptune in Gemini opposed by Moon (more than likely), Saturn and Uranus from Sagittarius. Mercury and Venus, planets of communication and the arts respectively were in Taurus, home sign for Venus and arguably one the most appropriate placements of Venus for an artist of any kind.

The Taurus planets are opposed by Jupiter from Scorpio. So, all in all the chart is dominated by oppositions indicating a "see-saw" dynamic: the need to constantly react until, with experience, it becomes clear that compromise between two opposing forces of the personality is the key to peace of mind. I wouldn't presume to guess what opposing forces were involved in Mr. Douglas's case, but being born long before racial integration in the US must have presented him with a feeling of "being in two minds" about many matters, in spite of the fact that he was fortunate in growing up within the support of a thriving black community. His work, while celebrating his roots, records the wrongs and hardships his fellow African Americans have faced.





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"Food, Glorious (or not) Food....."

Since diagnosis of early stage breast cancer back in early March, and subsequent surgery, I've been paying more attention to my diet, with special attention to any foods which can encourage the production of estrogen in the body - which I would do well to avoid. The first article I read warned strongly against soy - any kind of soy, in any quantity. Soy was the definite top of the list 'no-no'...said the author. I knew nothing at all about soy, except that I do not like the flavour of soy sauce. I began busily reading every ingredients list in the supermarket, and being dismayed at the amount of soy to be found hiding just about everywhere. Later, upon searching further, I found a different story: soy isn't dangerous for breast cancer survivors who had estrogen positive markers in their pathology. What to believe?

The 'no danger' pieces were by medical people who had carried out statistical studies - I'd have thought these to be most reliable. Anyway, from now on I shall avoid soy when I can, but remain unperturbed if there's a smidgen of it in something I enjoy. Might as well play it down the middle, rather than become unduly obsessive. Same applies to dairy products - use 1% or 2% milk (I do anyway), low fat or no fat yogurt, and preferably cheeses from Europe where stricter regulations are in force. English, Irish, Italian, Canadian or Australian cheeses are my choice in any case - I have disliked all American cheeses from my first weeks here.

I've taken to eating some blueberries daily now - a fruit I'd ignored until reading how many good things are encased in that wee dark berry (low in calories, loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamin K, manganese and vitamin C, along with many other important micronutrients); and more carrots, and carrot juice. Wholemeal bread, too- not just bread that is called "wheat", as against "white". I'm trying for more cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, (I so wish I could find some water cress - used to love it in England), broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables. I'm not impressed by the standard of freshness of some of these in our local supermarkets though. The Brussels sprouts we ate last evening tasted nothing like the sprouts I used to eat back in England.

I eat little meat, will probably eat even less now. A little rotisserie chicken from time to time and the occasional pot roast perhaps.

On the topic of food, in general, a question on Quora sparked my interest the other day.
What are some mind-blowing facts about food?

Lots of answers appear there, some of them cause one to say "Ew, ew, ew - never eating THAT again!", others are simply interesting. Below is a neatly enumerated answer from Yuvraj Singh, who quotes his source as Google: a list of 60 facts. Any notes/additions in italics come from your friendly neighbourhood Blogger.)

1. The oldest evidence for soup is from 6,000 B.C. and calls for hippopotamus and sparrow meat.

2. Pringles once had a lawsuit trying to prove that they weren't really potato chips.

3. Pound cake got its name from its original recipe, which called for a pound each of butter, eggs, sugar, and flour.

4. Ripe cranberries will bounce like rubber balls.

5. An average ear of corn has an even number of rows, usually 16.

6. Consuming dairy may cause acne.

7. Most wasabi consumed is not real wasabi, but colored horseradish.

8. Central Appalachia's tooth decay problem is referred to as Mountain Dew mouth, due to the beverage's popularity in the region.

9. Apples belong to the rose family, as do pears and plums.

10. Oklahoma's state vegetable is the watermelon. (Note from me: It's delish too!)

11. One of the most popular pizza toppings in Brazil is green peas.

12. About 70% of olive oil being sold is not actually pure olive oil.

13. Real aged balsamic vinegar actually costs anywhere from $75 to $400 or more.

14. Store bought 100% "real" orange juice is 100% artificially flavoured. (Note: Surely not my favourite and only choice - Florida's Natural brand? Cartons say 100% pure Florida orange juice, not from concentrate.)

15. The most expensive pizza in the world costs $12,000 and takes 72 hours to make.

16. The winner of the 2013 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest consumed 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

17. The Dunkin' donuts in South Korea offer doughnut flavors such as Kimchi Croquette and Glazed Garlic.

18. Chocolate was once used as currency

19. There is an amusement park in Tokyo that offers RAW horse flesh flavored ice cream. (EW!!!)

20. The tea bag was created by accident, as tea bags were originally sent as samples. (Pretty bad accident too!)

21. A Cinnabon classic has less sugar than a 20-oz. Bottle of Pepsi.

22. Castoreum, which is used as vanilla flavoring in candies, baked goods, etc., is actually a secretion from the anal glands of beavers. (EW!!)

23. Humans are born craving sugar.

24. Radishes are members of the same family as cabbages.

25. The red food-coloring carmine — used in skittles and other candies — is made from boiled cochineal bugs, a type of beetle.

26. Casu Marzu is a cheese found in Sardinia that is purposely infested with maggots.

27. The softening agent L-cysteine — used in some bread — is made from human hair and duck feathers.

28. The potentially fatal brain mushroom is considered a delicacy in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the upper Great Lakes region of North America.

29. If improperly prepared, fugu, or puffer fish, can kill you since it contains a toxin 1200 times deadlier than cyanide.

30. It is almost impossible to find out what all the ingredients are that Papa John's uses in its pizzas.

31. Coconut water can be used as blood plasma.

32. Milt, which is a delicacy around the world, is fish sperm.

33. McDonald's sells 75 hamburgers every second of every day.

34. Ranch dressing contains titanium dioxide, which is used to make it appear whiter. The same ingredient is used in sunscreen and paint for the same effect. (That accounts for the universally nasty taste of Ranch dressing! Only Heinz Salad Cream for me, even when I have to ship it in from the net.)

35. Three plates of food at a Chinese buffet will net you about 3,000 calories.

36. To make jelly beans shiny, shellac is used, which is made from Kerria lacca insect excretions. (EW!!)

37. One fast food hamburger may contain meat from 100 different cows.

38. Ketchup was used as a medicine in the 1800s to treat diarrhea, among other things.

39. Fruit-flavored snacks are made with the same wax used on cars.

40. Peanuts aren't nuts, they're legumes.

41. No matter what color Fruit Loop you eat, they all taste the same

42. The most expensive fruit in the world is the Japanese Yubari cantaloupe, and two melons once sold at auction for $23,500.

43. Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.

44. When taken in large doses nutmeg works as a hallucinogen.

45. Eating bananas can help fight depression.

46. Canola oil was originally called rapeseed oil, but rechristened by the Canadian oil industry in 1978 to avoid negative connotations. "Canola" is short for "Canadian oil."

47. Honey is made from nectar and bee vomit.

48. Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing.

49. Chuck E. Cheese pizza restaurants were created by the inventor of the Atari video game system, Nolan Bushnell.

50. The twists in pretzels are meant to look like arms crossed in prayer.

51. "SPAM" is short for spiced ham .

52. To add nutrition, a lot of milk, juice and yogurts enrich the food with EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, your OJ contains fish oil.

53. There's an enzyme in pineapple called bromelain that helps to break down proteins and can also ruin your tastebuds.

54. Apples float in water, because 25% of their volume is made of air.

55. The popsicle was invented by an 11 year old in 1905.

56. Crackers, like Saltines, have small holes in them to prevent air bubbles from ruining the baking process.

57. The reason why peppers taste hot is because of a chemical compound called capsaicin, which bonds to your sensory nerves and tricks them into thinking your mouth is actually being burned.

58. One of the most hydrating foods to eat is the cucumber, which is 96% water.

59. There are 7,500 varieties of apples grown throughout the world, and if you tried a new variety each day, it would take you 20 years to try them all.

60. The most popular carrots used to be purple.