Friday, October 26, 2012

Paradigmatic

Tomorrow we're off to seek some Fall colour, so will put blog on hold for a day or two. In the meantime some brief extracts from POCKET PARADIGMS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SAM SMITH. A very worthwhile read in total, divided alphabetically. I've lifted a few sample lines - these seem particularly apt for the present:
From: Media
The greatest power of the mass media is the power to ignore. The worst thing about this power is that you may not even know it's being used.

From: New World Order
The new world order emanates from a mandarin class that is neither left or right. Its members often are the sort of which it has been said that when they are alone in a room, there is no one there. In such a culture the marketplace of ideas essentially shuts down. There is no longer any real politics, only deals. No victories, only leveraged buyouts. No ideology; only brand loyalty. No conservative and liberal, only Coke and Pepsi.

From: Politics
The system that envelops us becomes normal by its mere mass, its ubiquitous messages, its sheer noise. Our society faces what William Burroughs called a biologic crisis -- "like being dead and not knowing it." The unwitting dead -- universities, newspapers, publishing houses, institutes, councils, foundations, churches, political parties -- reach out from the past to rule us with fetid paradigms from the bloodiest and most ecologically destructive century of human existence. What should be merely portraits on the wall of our memories run our lives still, like parents who retain perpetual hegemony over the souls of their children.

Why bother? Only to be alive. Only to be real, to be made not just of what we acquire or our adherence to instruction, but of what we think and do of our own free will. Only, Winston Churchill said, to fight while there is still a small chance so we don't have to fight when there is none. Only to climb the rock face of risk and doubt in order to engage in the most extreme sport of all -- that of being a free and conscious human. Free and conscious even in a society that seems determined to reduce our lives to a barren pair of mandatory functions: compliance and consumption.

Life is a endless pick-up game between hope and despair, understanding and doubt, crisis and resolution.


AND a song:

We first heard this version of Paul Simon's lovely American Tune via the BBC Radio i-tune thingie. Paul Simon's own version could hardly be bettered, but I do like Kurt Ellings's renditon too. It's on his album 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project. He's actually a jazz singer, but sings this one straight-up, it'd be a crime to do otherwise!

Snip from the 1970s lyrics, still apt in 2012....

But it's all right, all right,
We've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road we're traveling on,
I wonder what went wrong,
I can't help it
I wonder what went wrong.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Paul Wellstone, 10 Years gone, needed more than ever.

One US politician I'd love to have seen and heard in action: Senator Paul Wellstone. If he had lived he would perhaps have been running now for the nation's highest office.

In an obituary at Legacy.com is noted, with regard to a failed presidential run in 1998:
Wellstone also was known for his sense of humor. When he made a brief and futile run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1998, he said conspiratorially to an Associated Press reporter that he really didn't think he had a chance to win. The reporter asked why, and Wellstone whispered: “I'm short, I'm Jewish and I'm a liberal.”

We sorely need a politician of Paul Wellstone's calibre in the USA today.
“Traditional progressive bread and butter economic issues are the heart of the solution. It's about ensuring decent jobs with a good wage. It's about ensuring a free public education in all the communities of America, whether they are in the shiny new affluent suburbs or the crumbling old schools of the older suburbs and cities. It's about ensuring a system where all Americans have access to health care, instead of a steadily declining share of our population.” ― Paul Wellstone
Senator Wellstone, and others, died in a plane crash on 25 October 2002.

From an excellent article about Paul Wellstone by astrologer, Maya del Mar:
"Paul Wellstone, Man of the People". It begins:
"Senator Paul Wellstone’s plane crashed in northern Minnesota at 10:00 a.m. on October 25, killing him, his wife, their daughter, several campaign aides, and two pilots. He was there to attend the funeral of a co-worker, taking that time even in the midst of a hard-fought campaign. That’s how Paul Wellstone was; he really cared about people. Many saw him as their best friend."

Later in the article :
"Paul Wellstone was born on July 21, 1944 in Washington DC. His chart was dominated by Cancer Sun and Cancer planets, and Leo Moon and Leo planets. He was a quintessential Cancer-Leo, the man of the people, spreading sunshine to his audience. Someone said that the room lit up when he came into it. Leo likes its audience, and enjoys talking — witness Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro."




In Wellstone's chart (set for 12 noon as I can find no time of birth for him) Sun and Saturn are in Cancer, Mars in Virgo, with every other personal planet in Leo.


(Wellstone Memorial, 2002).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DRONES & PREDICTIONS

During Monday's presidential debate (the last of the season) the topic of drone warfare was mentioned but skated over with no in-depth discussion, and both candidates voicing support. It was from an unlikely source that essential comment has come: Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress who hosts a morning political talk-show. Please note Democrat-supporting Joe Klein's stance on the matter!




As Glen Greenwald has writtten HERE:

Obama has led all sorts of progressives and other Democrats to be the most vocal supporters of unrestrained aggression, secret assassinations, and "crippling" the Iranian people with sanctions. It is completely unsurprising that the most sociopathic defense of drones comes from one of the most committed Obama supporters, and that it's now left to a former GOP Congressman to raise objections. As much as anything, that is the Obama legacy.

And, as William Astore wrote in his piece America Lost Last Night's Presidential Debate

The U.S. will continue to escalate drone strikes on assassination missions of dubious legality, all in the name of killing the bad guys. Neither candidate bothered to address civilian casualties, blowback, or whether they accept the right of other countries to launch their own drones on assassination missions. (In this case I'm guessing that imitation by China or Russia or Iran would not be considered the sincerest form of flattery.)




For anyone keen on election predictions there's a page at a blog called The Moderate Voice: Real Psychic Predictions 2012 - Politics and More (updated October 2012).

Having scrambled through it, I'm no wiser, but it was fun!

I decided to fish out my tarot deck from the back of a drawer where it has rested for quite some time, undisturbed. Shuffled, mentally asking, "Who will be the next president of the USA?" Drew 3 cards. 6 of Swords, 8 of Rods, Ace of Cups. I'd rather hoped to see one of the royal cards emerge, but my tarot deck is in enigmatic mood....it ain't sayin'. Yet those three cards seem to me to offer a reassuring omen indicating that things will not be nearly as bad as many expect or are predicting, whether President Obama retains his hold on the White House, or Gov. Romney takes over. In view of the opening topic of this post, it's hard to be convinced.

6 of Swords = a moving away from danger. 8 of Rods is a card of movement - swiftness, completion, fulfillment, progress and action. Ace of Cups represents the start of something good and positive. I was surprised to see these cards emerge - really! But emerge they did. I guess each person could interpret them as an indication that their own chosen candidate will win. I have no chosen candidate, so the message for me is that whatever happens, the outcome of the 2012 election will not turn out to have been disastrous for the country and the world.

Gut-feeling: I've thought for a while that the President will gain another 4 years in power because, of the two candidates, he's in a better position to be able to get done what The True Powers That Be need to be done. He will be Their preference. With Romney in the White House there'd be heavy opposition from the left against certain propositions which The Powers That Be see as essential. Obama has the left tamed, therefore he is, as one writer has put it "the more effective evil". Absent a landslide for Romney, which isn't likely, I'm sure there are ways and means to tweak a close-run thing so that the desired result is obtained.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Election Time & Via Combusta

Broadly speaking, when the Sun and/or Moon pass through areas of the sky where astrology indicates their energies are weak, it's not the best time for....well, anything of great importance. It's obvious that those who set US election calendars do not take astrology into consideration! I wondered why early November was chosen as the date for major elections in the USA. There's a full explanation at About.com . Key points are that, back in the day holding elections in November made good sense in what was then an agrarian society, as the harvest would have been concluded. And the harshest winter weather would not have arrived yet, which was a consideration for those who had to travel to a polling place. Making the election the first Tuesday after the first Monday also ensured that the election would never be held on November 1, which is All Saints Day, a Catholic holy day of obligation.

On 6 November, the date of the US presidential election this year, the Sun will still be traversing the last degrees of Via Combusta (explanation follows), Moon will be in Leo, which I suspect is preferable to its Capricorn (detriment) placement for the 2008 election. Let's see then - what might this indicate? That whoever wins the presidency this time will have an easier time, a smoother path, than the winner in 2008?

(Hat-tip to entheosweb.com for the illustration.)

Via Combusta extends from 15 degrees of Libra to 15 degrees of Scorpio(there are some variations). Currently, during mid-October Sun traverses between 20 degrees and the final degree of Libra, so is even now wandering along Via Combusta.

Some notes explaining Via Combusta which I first posted back in 2008 at election time:

The area of the zodiac known to the ancients as Via Combusta, translated from the Latin it means Burning Road or Fiery Path, is an area of the zodiac thought to be generally unfortunate. But why was it so named and why the bad reputation in connection with the Moon's passage, once a month through that area of the zodiac, and the Sun's passage along the same area once a year ?

The answer, it appears, has a lot to do with planetary "dignities". Both Sun and Moon are in their "fall" in the area of the zodiac known as Via Combusta. Planets were said to be in their "fall" when they travelled through a sign opposite to that in which their essence was strong, or "in exaltation". The most advantageous sign for any planet is its domicile or rulership, the next most advantageous, (exaltation) is in a sign which complements that planet's energies. The opposite signs to the advantageous ones are described as being in "detriment" (opposite domicile), and "fall" (opposite exaltation).

Why the boundary at 15th degrees in particular though?

Astrologer Deborah Houlding surmises (HERE)
"However, when the tropical zodiac was introduced around the 6th century BC, the point of the Vernal Equinox was not firmly established but variously placed among the early degrees of Aries. Older authorities placed it at the 15th degree, so it is not beyond credibility that a symbolic association attached itself to the region that extended from the 15th degree of Libra, (opposite 15 Aries)as the area of the Sun's seasonal 'death' at the Autumn Equinox. Certainly the name of this traditionally afflicted area suggests some connection with the process of being 'hidden' and certainly, amongst the Egyptians, all things connected with absence from the visible world, (including deceased men and stars disappearing from view, either by falling beneath the western horizon or entering into helical setting), were considered to enter the dark, uncharted region of Duat."
And some more esoteric information from (what might now be a defunct link but I'll include it) Lunarhouse
"Via Combusta is specifically a destructive force that can overrule positive focus. Because of this via combusta has been traditionally used by magicians for banishing, bindings, exorcisms and spells of destruction and decay. Whatever is intended or released in a positive and creative way at this time may well find manifestation through a destructive route. This is NOT a time for experimentation and amateur magick."

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music Is Better Than Words ~ Seth MacFarlane

I made a discovery from a TV music channel (audio and data only) we have in our otherwise 75% unwatchable cable package. Listening from the kitchen, I was attracted by a rather smooth vocal on one of those beautiful American standards Sinatra excelled in, popped my head around to see whose voice it was. Surprise! Seth MacFarlane! It was a track from his album Music Is Better Than Words, released in the US about a year ago. I got me the album. Although I've had doubts about Seth MacFarlane's often over-raunchy, verging on distasteful, style in other genres (his TV Family Guy etc, series, and the movie Ted), I've always been much impressed by his talent, and thought he could do much "classier" things. He has. I knew, from the episodes of Family Guy we've seen, that he's keen on stage musicals and can sing a bit, I had no idea he's as good as he is.


Here's a link to what I've had to say about Seth MacFarlane before - and his astrology.

The album has had some really bitchy reviews, and some which are so-so. I don't say it's anywhere near the Sinatra level, but as an homage to the styling and feel of those times, it's good. It could be seen as "a vanity piece", but so what? If it's good it's good. The arrangements are super. MacFarlane obviously put a lot of thought and organisation into the production - as he does with all his work. He used a mic which was used by Frank Sinatra, and the album was recorded, with really excellent (even I could tell how good it is) backing orchestration, on analog tape, bringing back that special sound of the early Sinatra era.

My favourite track is Something Good. Seth MacFarlane brings a fresh new shade to the song, which I always thought to be the best from Sound of Music. I hadn't heard it sung by anyone other than Julie Andrews, and only very few times since being dragged, kicking and screaming to see the movie by a boyfriend who was strangely obsessed with Julie. Several other numbers with which I was unfamiliar appear on the CD, from musicals I've not seen, so there's no straight copy-catting of Sinatra or others of that era going on.

Here's his version of Something Good, live in concert ( I like the album version better, but it's not on YouTube):




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Political Words and Non-political Music


Is That all there is? by Dan DeWalt at This Can't Be Happening: a very good rundown on last Tuesday's presidential debate,
Clip:





"The media often tell us that because of our short attention span, need for instant gratification, disinterest in complex/subtle/foreign affairs, we get the politicians that we deserve, but it's more complicated than that. In fact, the media have contributed mightily to the dumbing down of questions and the simplification of issues the more easily to cast the election merely as stories abut the horse race, or to simply pit the candidates against each other. While Obama and Romney postured on stage to see who could give the best swagger display Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala were being arrested for merely trying to enter and watch the debate as observers.

The inclusion of Stein, or Rocky Anderson, or any number of other serious third party candidates in that debate would have expanded the conversation to include many issues that really matter to people. Instead, courtesy of a conspiracy by the two main parties, we are led to believe that we only have a choice of two corporate toadies and that the only issue that matters is paying less for energy and lowering taxes."
And a song - same title as the article and a little advice ("If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball") - Peggy Lee with Leiber & Stoller's Is That all there Is?:




Excellent brief assessment of socialism and attitudes to even the word socialism in the USA, a piece by David Glenn Fox at The Leftist Review:
Socialism
Clip:

"If you would want to demonize something in the United States of America, simply tie it together with socialism and before long, you too could raise an angry torch-carrying mob or small army of ministers on phone-trees calling up the faithful to fight back the Red Menace.

Do you want to know what socialism is about? I mean, do you really want to know what socialism is about Charlie Brown? Socialism is a traffic light; it says the traffic stops for three minutes going this way and for three minutes going the other way. It doesn’t care what kind of car you drive or where you live. It divides the usage of the intersection fairly without standing or class. It is really a very simple solution to some very complex problems. Of course to conservatives, I suppose it does carve into that blessed freedom of theirs, which they are always so concerned about.
I imagine to a libertarian traffic lights must appear to be an abomination......."

And from Clusterfuck Nation, by James Howard Kunstler: Heretics Unite
Clip:

If you look closely at the artifacts of the centuries pre-dating the Renaissance, you detect a long-running mood of severe psychological depression when the human race dwelt in abject hopelessness and poverty, with only the hocus-pocus of the church promising better times beyond the mystery of death as the Zoloft of the day. Poggio was not alone in his enthusiasm for the lost world of the ancients, and eventually the rediscovery of a realm of ideas beyond the drear preoccupations of a corrupt church turned on a light for humanity that has burned for five hundred years.
I mention these old and arcane matters because the mood of humanity lately seems to be darkening again, and to some large degree for understandable reasons. Between the melting of the polar icecaps, the destruction of all edible life in the oceans, and the vulgar spectacle of the paved-over American landscape with its clown monuments mocking all civilized endeavor, and a long list of other insults to healthy life on earth, there's a lot to be depressed about.

And so..to a song written and sung by John Conlee - it suggests what we might need if we are to remain (almost) sane during these "interesting" times: rose-coloured glasses!


I own an old creaky pair - but a smart newer version is on order! They do make one feel better- I'm not kidding!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Arty Farty Friday~ Black Magic Woman shows up in Matilda

This is the third post on what I call my Black Magic Woman. A re-airing so soon after the previous one in July is occasioned by a new comment, received this month, on my 2008 post, "Black Stuff".

The original post published in 2008 has collected several comments overtime from others who have a similar decor piece and are, like me, curious to know more about it. It's obviously a mass-produced piece from the 1970s, probably produced in Austin Texas, possibly not in enormous quantities I'd guess, due to its size and heavy weight.

A comment from TED on 6 October 2012 brought some information:

Copy of comment and my response:

TED said on 6 October...
I also have the one armed black lady with morfy on the top right side of the base. I was told it was made by a artist in Pittsburg pa. It was in the movie Madeline with Danny DiVeto when he is saying "I buy you all these beautiful things". The black lady is on a table in the back.

Twilight: TED ~~ Thanks so much for letting us know this. Interesting! Now I have to find a DVD or VHS tape of the movie :-)
Later ~~~~I've looked around Amazon's DVDs for Madeline, but Danny DeVito isn't in that one, he is in Matilda though - some DVDs have the 2 films packaged together.
I'll try a used copy of Matilda, will report back in due course. ;-)

So, DVD acquired.....around two-thirds of the way through a viewing of the movie Matilda (1996) I spotted Black Magic Woman! It's not in a scene as described by TED though, perhaps it appears elsewhere too, but I didn't spot it. This screen capture is the clearest we could manage:


There are probably still quite a few more of these pieces around in the US - they're big and heavy, not easily broken. If anyone else has one, knows of one, sees one, or finds one in an attic or garage sale, do let us know.


UPDATE ~~~ See comment from "mike" below, and my response. There are one or two sculptures like this one shown on various sites (some may relate to long gone sales). I don't think there was ever a huge number of these around, and they likely will increase in value. We can hope! The production company no longer exists. "Morfy" remains a mystery, and doesn't seem to appear on any other design but this, or if it does it's not mentioned.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Binding Distraction

More from boredom than good sense, we fell into watching the presidential debate on Tuesday evening. As everyone and their dogs have already written, this time the President was more animated. Possibly this change was due to the different, town-hall style, format with no lectern to cling to, and a posse of questioners in the smallish (well-vetted) audience seated in front of the two debaters. Or even more possibly due to Prez having watched a video of his earlier debate performance, reading reports and opinions of it, and feeling he could have done better.

I'm posting just to let off a wee bit of steam on one aspect.

"Binders full of women".....In a remark which could certainly have been phrased better, Gov. Romney inadvertently gave the Twitterverse, Facebook and general chattering classes yet a second piece of nonsense to throw around social networks and internet generally. First piece of nonsense: his "Big Bird" remark in the earlier debate. I do not wish to diminish the importance of what was at the core of these remarks - that is equal opportunities for women and funding of a public TV channel
by criticising Twitterers and the like - but really.......they have diminished those issues themselves.

Is this the best that social media can achieve in the USA? If so, then I suspect we were better off without it, at least at election time. There are many very important issues to be considered, some of which are never given a single mention, due to an already highly controlled media and debate platform, making these debates little better than theatre to distract the masses. Rather than pushing such issues to the fore users of social media choose to throw around these silly bits and pieces.

The masses are so very easy to distract, are they not? I wonder sometimes if these types of distractions are cynically orchestrated rather than naturally occurring.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in "Brave New World Revisited", the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In "1984", Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. "In Brave New World", they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

According to Facebook, the reference to "binders full of women" resulted in a 213,900 percent surge in mentions at one point during the evening. One Facebook page focused around the topic already has 230,000 "likes." "Binders full of women" was the No. 3 search term associated with the debate on Google; and according to Yahoo, search interest in the term was up 691 percent following the debate. It was also the remark that celebrities were tweeting about most the morning after the debate.
(Oh well - if they were Tweeting about it, it must be important.)
(Statistical info from The Hill).

Disclaimer: I am neither a Romney supporter nor an Obama supporter. See sidebar.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ARGO "the best bad idea we have, sir"

The Middle East has been a constant problem area for as long as I can remember (and I'm old - or old enough). There hasn't been a period in my life when something unpleasant wasn't going down in the ME. I do not release my old homeland, the UK, from responsibility for some of it. That attitude almost had me avoiding the newly released movie Argo.....almost.

If you enjoy an adventure movie in which the CIA hero doesn't shoot anybody, (James Bond was never like this) none of the main characters carries a gun, but all are involved in a real life escape from danger venture, then Argo is for you. We saw it at the weekend. I enjoyed it a lot. Husband did too, but said that he found certain scenes a lttle too uncomfortably tense and unsettling. I know what he meant, especially the last scenes of the movie, when I felt the urge to yell out "for goodness sake (cleaned up version) get a flippin' move on!" That's a sign of good direction, I guess. Ben Affleck directed as well as playing the lead.

The film tells the true story, sticking to the facts for - I dunno - maybe 80% of the time, depicting events during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Most (film says 60) staff of the US Embassy in Iran were held hostage, as spies, for over a year by Islamic militants. Six members of Embassy staff managed to escape and were taken in by the Canadian Ambassador in Tehran. The tricky job of getting six escapees out of Iran was dropped into the lap of CIA expert getter-outer Tony Mendez; the movie is based on his book.

There are lots of sources online with more detail of the story, as well as the Wiki link above. I'll refrain from giving away more than any passing reader might already know if around in the late 1970s when the events happened. For anyone, like me, with no memory of what went on, there's a very clear introduction in the first frames of the movie, narrating background history and lead-up to the point at which the movie begins. I thought this was a very good way to introduce younger viewers to the history of what remains a very important on-going problem area of the Middle East.


The movie was well handled, in my opinion. I understand though, from later reading, that some Canadians weren't too happy about certain aspects of the way the story was presented, in relation especially to the Canadian Ambassador's role in events. Ben Affleck saw to it that at least one of the Canadian objections was addressed before wide release of the movie.

Argo was a movie, after all, not a documentary. There were scenes which didn't happen in real life, there was humour emanating from supporting characters, particularly when the Hollywood crowd hove into view. Situations and remarks which seemed comical when viewed from the safety of a cinema seat may not have seemed nearly as funny in the real life situations.

There's interesting information about the real Tony Mendez in this Washington Post Lifestyle article, with a photograph of him with Ben Affleck and the six escapees.

I'd love to know the birth date/place/time of Tony Mendez to see how well astrology fits. So far I've only been able to find "1940". Not enough. His talent for disguise, ingenuity, quick thinking and extreme adventure seems to me to be a blend of Gemini/Sagittarius with Neptune prominent.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Thank You for Your Service"

Picking up a thread from yesterday: GI Joe, the song, and following it to a general view of present day US military: I read a piece last week by Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque: Broken Spirits, Burnt Grass: Brief Notes from an American Journey. It afforded me an opportunity to comment about something I usually feel reticent to express: discomfort at the strange, almost religious approach accorded to members of the military here in the USA. It leaves me feeling queasy. I have the greatest, and enduring, respect for all soldiers, sailors and airforce personnel of both sexes who fought with Britain in World War 2. The military now, in what passes for "peace-time", is a completely different animal.

"Thank you for your service" is a routine remark made whenever someone wearing the uniform appears on TV. As Mr.Floyd described, the habit spreads even to passengers in military garb travelling on a plane. Many in the military do no more than the average garage mechanic, cook or office worker, who don't ever get a public thank you for services rendered. For me, first and foremost, fire-fighters, lifeboat crews and all first responders to disasters deserve a public "thank you for your service" - but they have no identifying uniform when not on the job.

By the way, I most certainly do not wish to thank any drone operators!

This routine thanking, in my opinion, devalues the very heartfelt remembrances expressed on 11 November and Memorial Day.

Anyway...no more rant, I could, but I won't. Just to say I recommend the linked article, and the comments, mine is among them.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music Monday ~ ALL THE JOES

After preparing the previous post on Joe Biden, a song was spinning in my head: Eddy Raven's Joe Knows How to Live - I saw last week that he knows how to debate too! I went on from finding that song on YouTube to remembering other "Joe" songs - Husband contributed a few too. Joe affords an easy rhyme, so he springs up all over the place in song. Videos of some of a select few follow, along with a list of some others.


Joe Knows How to Live (Eddy Raven)




Joe Hill - best known version is by Joan Baez - available at YouTube, but I rather like Paddy Reilly's clear telling of the story.

This is kind of relevant to Friday's post about the Walmart strikers. (From the lyrics: "Where working men defend their rights, It's there you'll find Joe Hill". Joe Hill was a labor icon of the early 20th century, itinerant miner, songwriter and union activist who was executed by a Utah firing squad in 1915. The song’s refrain: “I never died, said he" . Full story at spartacus.schoolnet




Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe - Ella




GI Joe - Waylon (best line "....... "I still think the boys got screwed over in Vietnam.")



Also Joes: a couple too sad for inclusion:
Good For Nothing Joe (Lena Horne, Kay Starr etc.)
Li'l Joe (Red Sovine)

Then there was a Joe as a supporting character in Sinatra's One for My Baby & One for the Road...."Set 'em up Joe...." "Joe I know you're getting anxious to close..."

and a Joe left behind in Jambalaya: "Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me oh my oh....."

Still more Joes:

Hello Joe - (Blondie)
Goodbye Joe (Laura Nyro)
Ragtime Cowboy Joe (various).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Biden Appreciation

We watched the Biden/Ryan debate on Thursday. Five minutes into the proceedings I was remembering how I'd felt about the now Vice President during the last election circus 2007/8. Joe Biden impressed me a lot then.
I was disappointed when he left the primaries at an early stage. On Thursday evening he impressed me again. I love his straight-talking style, unaffected, right to the point, no messing! He's the leader we should've had. He is a natural leader. But The Powers That Be (whoever they are, and whatever their reasons) didn't want Biden, they wanted Barack Obama and allowed no obstacle to his achieving the presidency.

I've nothing to say about Paul Ryan - he doesn't speak my language. I'm not going to say "Biden won", though he did dominate. "Winning" these things is purely in the eye of the beholder. The debates offer political equivalents of football games or boxing matches - the side you support can do no wrong, t'other can do nothing right. One has only to visit a left-leaning blog, then a right-leaning blog, to be presented with totally different views on the matter - all a bit pointless anyway, but grist for bloggers' mill (and my own).

For anyone seeking a good blow-by-blow account, go read Big Joe & the Joyful Noise by William Rivers Pitt at Truthout. In his last paragraph he wrote this: "... The sun came up on Friday morning to shine upon a world that will never, ever underestimate Joe Biden again....."

A couple of snips from my 2007/8 posts mentioning Biden, who is the focus of this post, follow. Full versions of the posts, and several more, can be accessed easily from the Label Cloud in the sidebar - Biden's astrology features there too. In looking back over my posts from that time, I was surprised how engaged I'd felt in the whole election ballyhoo. I've lost that enthusiasm this time around, but the sight of Biden on Thursday brought back an echo of it.

"Joe Biden is growing on me! I'll not be disloyal to Dennis Kucinich, he's still top of my heap, but Joe Biden comes a close second in the current line-up of Democratic presidential candidates. He, like Dennis Kucinich, is usually sidelined in televised debates, in favour of "the front-runners", but when he does get an opportunity to speak he makes it count.............................Biden as Prez would give me confidence in the USA I think, a feeling of security, the kind of security I used to feel back in the UK. I don't feel the same here - so far. Whatever government was in power in Britain, and I experienced many I didn't agree with, I always felt that they'd do the right thing if push came to shove. It's down to the way he answers questions, his attitude and bearing, he seems to have substance - in a nutshell, he appears presidential. Or could this be the old Scorpio magnetism at work?"

"And so to the man who turned my own mind away from voting either third party or (perish the thought) Republican: Joe Biden. Another man who knows exactly how to speak to the public, inform and inspire without ever talking down. Why the heck he didn't do better in the primaries I'll never understand. I have a lingering suspicion that "the fix has been in" for a long, long time. Obama was earmarked, nothing was allowed to stand in his way. I'll try to keep an open mind if he does become president, I'll hope my own assessment of him has been wrong. Anyway, back to Joe. That inspirational Scorpio had me hooked again..... Joe's nomination as VP will make the future so much more interesting and reassuring for yours truly."


"If you do politics the right way, I believe, you can actually make people's lives better. And integrity is the minimum ante to get into the game."
~ Joe Biden, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.


But....here in 2012 I doubt that even VP Biden's debate performance can persuade me to vote for the Obama/Biden ticket again. I'd like to have heard what he thinks about drone warfare, and climate change....two topics studiously avoided in this, and probably in all of the current round of debates.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Walmart Strikers: "A tiny ripple of hope.."

Bravo to the striking workers of Walmart, who have never been allowed to unionize, a fact that has led to poor working conditions, inadequate pay, and retaliation from the employer if workers dare to speak out against conditions. Enough is enough, they've said - and not before time!
(Photo:Matt Hamilton)
Each time someone stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.
~ Robert F. Kennedy
Trades unions have been de-fanged by conservative governments and weak-kneed liberal administrations have failed to bring back balance to the situation, leaving "The People" - ordinary people - without recourse to right any wrongs perpetrated upon them. What other avenue did, and do, we The People have? What power do ordinary people now hold? None. Our votes at election time can be easily manipulated by the power of money and bought media.

In the 1950s workers found their strength in the union movement. They took things a tad too too far though, and lessons must be learned from that. Downfall of the unions at the hands of the dreadful Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and conservative administrations in the USA followed. Trades unions: the only tool of The People are effectively supressed, but events such as these Walmart strikes, small as they may be, could light a spark which will could spread to a blaze in a fairly short span of time.




Piece by Adil Ahmed at Policymic.com
While presidential candidates are fighting over accurate jobs numbers, Wal-Mart's associates are striving to address income inequality and depraved working conditions.

The first retail worker strike against Wal-Mart has spread from Los Angeles, where it began last week, to stores in a dozen cities, a union official said Tuesday. According to the Huffington Post, Wal-Mart workers walked off the job in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C., area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando, said Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Making Change At Wal-Mart campaign. Workers also went on strike in parts of Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota, he said.

Tuesday's walkouts included 88 workers from 28 stores ... a fraction of the 1.4 million who work at Wal-Mart, the world's largest private employer. Until Friday, when about 60 Wal-Mart employees walked off the job for a day in LA, no Wal-Mart retail workers had ever gone on strike, the union said.

The workers are protesting company attempts to "silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job," according to a United Food and Commercial Workers news release. Walmart workers, who are not unionized, have long complained of low pay and a lack of benefits.

These workers must be heard. Here are 9 reasons why:

1) In under a week, a strike that started out of a Los Angeles warehouse has spread to over 12 cities across the country. Clearly, the workers’ issues of poverty-wages, horrendous working conditions, and unaffordable health care policies are widely and deeply felt. Moreover, they are specific and can be addressed directly with management.

2) 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Wal-Mart. As the walk-outs persist, Wal-Mart associates will be able to educate more customers about their employer’s abusive working conditions. Flyering at a Wal-Mart can potentially have the reach of a major Super PAC ad buy.

3) As the general public engages the strikers, so will the media. As the press investigates, the truth will unfurl. The last time this happened, it was discovered that Wal-Mart de Mexico had allegedly been involved in a bribery campaign to open new stores. This seems like the tip of an iceberg. Who knows what will come out next?

4) As the workers’ issues gain more press, straddling politicians will get off the fence...............(See the rest at link above)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Old Michaelmas Day

Old Michaelmas Day is either today or was yesterday (10 or 11 October), opinions vary. After our calendar was revised in the mid 18th century 29 September became "New" Michaelmas.

Michaelmas is a festival in honour of St. Michael. He holds the scales of Libra (left), appropriately enough for the date, and because he is honoured as the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Archangel Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, in legend he defeated Luficer and he's seen as a protector against the dark of night. For people of mediaeval times the long nights of winter were very much darker, the oncoming cold more dangerous than for we spoiled 21st century dwellers in the lighted warmth of our homes. Martinmas comes along a month later, on 11 November, to honour St. Martin. (The suffix -"mas" comes from an old English word maesse, meaning festival, feast day or mass)

In past centuries in Britain, as well as being religious festivals and celebrations of the changing of seasons, Michaelmas and/or Martinmas marked Quarter Days when rents were due and accounts had to be settled. These times were also when servants and farm workers were hired by farmers, land owners and "the gentry" for the coming year at The Hiring Fairs, sometimes called Mop Fairs because servants with certain skills, (carpentry, cooking, etc) seeking employment, would carry a mop.


Agricultural workers who wished to move from their current farm would stand together in a town's market-place where a fair was being held. Farmers needing extra or replacement labourers, shepherds, grooms, ploughmen etc. would come to take their pick. Workers would travel for hundreds of miles to attend these fairs in market towns throughout the country. My own two grandfathers, both born in the south of England: Suffolk and Wiltshire travelled, in their youth, mostly on foot from the south to Yorkshire in the north, some two to three hundred miles, to find work on farms there. That's how I came to be a Yorkshirewoman.

As well as The Hiring Fairs, at this time of year there were funfairs in certain towns and cities; it's a tradition that lives on in some locations. In the city where I was born, Hull, a huge funfair is held annually around 11th October: Hull Fair. It celebrated its 700th anniversary in 1993!
Here, as it was in 2006:



Michaelmas has its own named variety of Aster: the Michaelmas Daisy ~~


Old Michaelmas lore:

So many days the moon is old on St Michael’s day, so many floods after.
Traditional English weather marker

Harvest comes as long before Michaelmas as dog roses bloom before Midsummer.
Traditional English weather marker

On Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries.

(So they should not be picked later!)
Traditional Northern Irish saying.

St Michael’s rain does not stay long in the sky.
Traditional French.

If it does not rain on St Michael’s and Gallus [Oct 16], a dry spring is indicated for the next year.
Traditional English.

Finally, a bit of advice from Rudolf Steiner on how to approach this time of year:

People must learn once more to “think” the spiritual “together with” the course of nature. It is not admissible today for a person merely to indulge in esoteric speculations; it is necessary today to be able once again to do the esoteric. But people will be able to do this only when they can conceive their thoughts so concretely, so livingly that they don't withdraw from everything that is going on around them when they think, but rather that they think with the course of events: “think together with” the fading of the leaves, with the ripening of the fruits, in a Michaelic way, just as at Easter one knows how to think with the sprouting, springing, blossoming plants and flowers.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Manipulated Into Illusion....another look at Century of Self

Any thought of manipulation and control of the minds of others is an anathema to me. I believe most people, if they stopped to consider the matter, would feel the same. It's becoming ever clearer that we are not, and have never been, aware that such manipulation has been going on - and for many decades. I wasn't fully aware, other than realising that advertising is a mild form of mind manipulation.

Century of Self opened my eyes. It originated in 2002 as a BBC TV documentary series written and directed by Adam Curtis. The films are also available in DVD format, and used to be available as a set of 4 on-line videos, sadly now taken down at YouTube due to copyright restrictions, though an individual episode or two could still be available there. Unless taken down by the time anyone reads this, there's a set at Information Clearing House.

In 2010, after watching the videos I wrote a long post on their content, with some related astrology. Recently, last week in fact, comments received on posts about the arc of capitalism brought Century of Self back to mind. I decided it's time for a partial re-run as the subject matter of the series is closely related to the issues then discussed.

Series creator, Adam Curtis describes Century of Self: “This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.”

Episode titles:
#1: Happiness Machines
#2: The Engineering of Consent
#3: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
#4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering


A brief synopsis of Century of Self then, with clips from a review by Paul Shepherd. The link I had to his review is now defunct, I can find no alternative.

Sigmund Freud's theory of the subconscious is explored, how it has been successfully exploited during the 20th century and beyond in areas of consumer manipulation and social control.

Leading roles:
Sigmund Freud, neurologist/psychoanalyst, born in Moravia, Austrian Empire (now part of the Czech Republic).
Anna Freud, Sigmund's daughter.
Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, Austrian-born, influential pioneer in the field of public relations.
Wilhelm Reich, Austrian-American psychoanalyst, pioneer of sexual freedom.

Tentacles of their influence have reached out through many decades, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Focus of attention on "self" and away from "society as a whole" is key.

At centre stage, the starting premise of Sigmund Freud regarding the unconscious: that humans
were motivated more by irrational sexual and violent urges than by rational thoughts, and therefore democracy was not a matter of allowing people to choose for themselves between a range of different policies, rather they had to be guided towards the 'correct' choice by an elite composed of people in command of the theory. People just like Edward Bernays.
Freud's theory was taken up by his daughter Anna, and exploited by his nephew Edward Bernays as a tool of psychological, political and social control, for benefit of Big Business and political elites. The development of marketing techniques, later adapted and modified by Reich's theories was where it all began.
Bernays set to work for major corporations, with one of his most spectacular successes being to help break the taboo against women smoking. He paraded a group of attractive young ladies through New York smoking and bearing the slogan 'March for Freedom'. Anyone criticising the idea of women smoking would now appear to be against freedom, and the numbers of women taking up the habit shot through the roof.

After this success Lehman Brothers and other big New York banks financed the development of department stores, confident that they could use the techniques pioneered by Bernays to persuade people to purchase a range of products that left to themselves they may very well not have bothered with. This period also saw the introduction of the techniques of product placement and psuedo-scientific product endorsement so familiar to us today. All of this dubious activity in the capitalist economy was one of the main factors leading to the bubble which ended in the Wall Street crash of 1929.........
The psychoanalytical theories of Wilhelm Reich also fed into this stream, despite his being a convicted fraudster with some very strange beliefs. Reich argued that the release of orgasmic sexual energy was neccessary for the mental health of the individual and society. After the defeat of the New Left in the political conflicts of the late 1960s and early 70s, Reich's theories gained a mass influence as many former activists turned in on themselves. The thinking now was that perhaps you didn't need to go on demos., hand out leaflets etc., what was required was to change oneself, though not neccessarily in the traditional, transcendental sense. A myriad groups emerged, all promising that they had the correct technique for the re-discovery and re-moulding of the Self.

A blend of techniques arising from the ideas of Freud, Bernays and Reich remains in place, both in business and, more importantly and dangerously, in politics today.

It's hard to understand how such long-term influence has been able to take a hold in a diverse and vast country such as the USA and a small but historically independent one like the UK.

I guess I ought to suggest here that, at the start, there may have been no ulterior motive involved, simply a genuine attempt to construct a better system by those who believed they had superior intellects. Were those people making decisions fit to be the deciders? Is anybody? Eventually a different agenda surfaced, one far removed from the good of society.

In my original post I went on to look at natal charts of the Freuds, Bernays and Reich, and came to the conclusion that a common denominator was found: links to Scorpio and Pluto/Neptune: powerful, deep, long-lasting elements, motive hidden from view, dark and often paranoid. Sex, also connected to Pluto/Scorpio was involved too, via the theories of Reich.

If we are in the midst of a decline now it is due to a serious lack of integrity in certain individuals. Astrologically those individuals shared some of the most powerfully dark zodiacal and planetary "flavours".

The truly unconscionable element in all of this, to me, is the notion that any individual(s) should have power to secretly dictate, manipulate minds, in such a way as to benefit one section of society over another section....or for any reason whatever. This hidden manipulation worked in tandem with the growth of capitalism. The public is not to blame for what happened in the past, and what still happens today. The public is, in fact, victim of a near atrocity in my view. We need to take control of our own minds, or others will be ready to do it for us.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Weekend's Blue Norther & Remembered Song

Weather forecasters warned us late last week: A cold front, referred to as a blue norther, will sag southward ushering chilly air across the southern Plains on Friday and northern Texas on Saturday. Highs will drop 20-30 degrees behind the front with breezy conditions adding to the chill."

Forecast was correct. Temperatures on Saturday and Sunday barely inched above 50 degrees after having been in the high 70s and low 80s during the week. Skies were unrelentingly grey. But this morning, even though it feels almost frosty, the sky is brilliant blue and weather forecast promises gradual rise in temperatures during the week, returning to the low 80s, for at least a little while longer.

From Texas State Historical Association website:
The term blue norther denotes a weather phenomenon common to large areas of the world's temperate zones—a rapidly moving autumnal cold front that causes temperatures to drop quickly and that often brings with it precipitation followed by a period of blue skies and cold weather. What is peculiar to Texas is the term itself. The derivation of blue norther is unclear; at least three folk attributions exist. The term refers, some say, to a norther that sweeps "out of the Panhandle under a blue-black sky"—that is, to a cold front named for the appearance of its leading edge. Another account states that the term refers to the appearance of the sky after the front has blown through, as the mid-nineteenth-century variant blew-tailed norther illustrates. Yet another derives the term from the fact that one supposedly turns blue from the cold brought by the front. Variants include blue whistler, used by J. Frank Dobie, and, in Oklahoma, blue darter and blue blizzard. Though the latter two phrases are found out-of-state, blue norther itself is a pure Texasism. The dramatic effects of the blue norther have been noted and exaggerated since Spanish times in Texas. But that the blue norther is unique to Texas is folklore.
"Blue norther" - sounds kind of romantic doesn't it? Kind of familiar to me too having, long ago, been an avid country music fan. It didn't take long to track my memory down.

Blue norther (often wrongly quoted in lyrics as blue northern) is mentioned in Someday Soon a song written in 1964 by Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tyson. He recorded it with his wife Sylvia. Judy Collins' version of the song was a hit in 1969, many other artists have recorded it since.

Someday Soon is about a gal who's in love with a rodeo rider, just back from military service; her parents don't like him.

There's a young man that I know whose age is twenty-one
Comes from down in southern Colorado
Just out of the service, he's lookin' for his fun
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

My parents can not stand him 'cause he rides the rodeo
My father says that he will leave me cryin'
I would follow him right down the roughest road I know
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

But when he comes to call, my pa ain't got a good word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old blue norther, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon.

Judy Collins' version is available at YouTube, as is the version by Ian and Syliva Tyson, but here are two others: one by Patty Loveless and Kathy Mattea; the other, lyrics tweaked to suit a male vocalist, by Johnny Cash, who also tells us about addiction to the rodeo.






Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Debatable Debate

I didn't watch the televised debate between President Obama and Governor Romney last week, and had avoided watching videos of any part of it - until yesterday afternoon, when I became curious enough to dive in and watch the whole thing. There have been countless articles and opinions expressed, most emphasising that the Prez was lack-lustre, seemed tired, disengaged, wouldn't look at Gov. Romney, didn't even contradict several lies said to have been presented by him.

I don't support either one of the two debaters. My view is that the debates are little better than theatre for consumption of the masses. Having now seen a video recording of the full debate it's hard to relate what I saw to what has been said and written about it. If I had to score it I'd say it was a tie rather than the resounding win for Romney most have been calling it, along with a variety of theories as to whether it could have been a deliberate ploy by the President and his advisers, or was he even "taking a dive"? Dearie me!

Romney was on the offensive, naturally, why wouldn't he be, Obama already has the ball? That was to be expected. I didn't see Obama as tired or disengaged. He did look at Romney, in between quickly writing notes, didn't seem at all intimidated as some have implied. I don't agree with either of 'em, so watched the proceedings with a different perspective from most, I guess.

What seems likely to my way of thinking, is that immediate post mortems by TV pundits (of which I haven't seen any at all) must have shaped the views of many. It was in the best interest of those pundits to keep interest in the debates and campaigns alive for as long as possible, leaving viewers and readers panting for more, with plenty to argue about until the next outing.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Looper and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

We went to the flicks to see Looper this week. We're both fans of time travel tales. I'm a longtime Bruce Willis fan from his days, long ago, in Moonlighting. Looper didn't disappoint as much as fire me up to untangle the confusion in which some elements of the story, or rather the order of its telling, had left me. Later I spent a long time reading online others' views on a few apparent plot-holes.

I'm wary of writing too much about Looper in case I spoil someone's fun. I'll just say that the action takes place during the years 2044 and 2074, in for some peculiar reason, Kansas - both rural and urban - though city scenes were reportedly shot in New Orleans; also in Shanghai, China. Chinese scenes in the version released in the USA are brief, but because a Chinese company coughed up a load of money into the movie's production, a version shown in China has several longer scenes located there.

Background to plot: a mode of time travel hasn't been discovered in 2044, but by 2074 it has, and is already outlawed, used only by mobsters who need to get rid of the bodies of their victims, which they cannot do easily in 2074 because of universal computerised (or something) "tagging" by the authorities. So they send their victims back to 2044 to be killed by a set of their paid (in gold or silver bars) assassins.

Looper was written and directed by Rian Johnson. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL from now on) plays the younger version (30-years younger) of Bruce Willis's Joe. I first saw JGL watching DVDs of that great old series 3rd Rock From the Sun. Since then his career has risen rapidly - he seems to be in just about every movie I see advertised these days, where a youngish male role needs to be filled, even in the upcoming Spielberg movie Lincoln, playing Abraham's son. JGL does a creditable job mimicking Bruce Willis's facial expressions and mannerisms. I wondered whether the director had had Bruce do a read through of JGL's lines so's he could see how he'd handle them, expression-wise. It's reported that JGL's facial appearance was changed for the film by use of a prosthetic nose - a bit off-putting at first. I kept wishing the young Bruce Willis could somehow have been resurrected via CGI to play young Joe. At some point in the future something like that could well prove to be a possibility.

For anyone intending to see the movie, I'd advise a quick reading of a plot summary, one which contains no spoilers, just to give a basic grounding. I was glad I'd done this, knowing my tendency to get so involved in untangling stuff and tripping over the odd paradox, that I miss crucial turns in a story-line. For best outcome, too, follow Bruce Willis's advice to his younger self. It was along the lines of : not to get into a deep consideration of time travel or it'd take all day, blow the mind, and the end result would be making silly diagrams with straws.

We enjoyed the film, and to be honest, I enjoyed searching for information afterwards almost as much. When the DVD is released I intend to rent it and watch again, knowing what I know now.

AND... we recently saw on rental DVD

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a British-made movie with a starry cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, et al, along with some charming and beautiful (male and female) Indian cast members whose names are not familiar, except perhaps: Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire - who is actually British by birth.

The movie offers a refreshing change from the majority on offer these days where the young (or younger) set take charge of events. It could be seen as a wee bit depressing, or a wee bit inspiring, depending on the mood of the viewer. There's no exciting plot, it's simply a story of a group of retired Brits who take their pensions, and, inspired by an advertisement, head for a charming-sounding hotel in India where they hope either to jump-start their lives, now unburdened by demanding careers, or to escape sad memories. Developments are fairly predictable but the joy is in the quality dialogue and acting talent of the leading players.

There's something for a younger age group in the film too, via young Indian cast members, but its real emphasis is on later life issues.

A couple of reviews I read raised my "ageism hackles" by condescendingly describing the film as a movie "for old people". Perhaps it is, but there are ways and other ways of describing such a movie. I was glad to note that offending reviewers had been properly upbraided via comment threads.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Arty Farty Friday ~ Hedi Schoop's Californian Ceramics from the 1940s

Another acquisition from last month's trip - this one not found in an antique store but in a thrift store run by a hospice organisation in Pratt, Kansas where we stopped for a short leg-stretching break.
The ceramic figure was sitting on a table by the cash desk along with a few other "specials offers". A notice informed prospective buyers that it is a ceramic "Phantasy Dancer" from the 1940s by Hedi Schoop. A photograph of a comparable piece available on e-bay, and its price there was attached. The Dancer, now offered at half the original asking price in the thrift store seemed a real bargain, particularly as the delicate piece had attracted my eye anyway, before knowing anything about it. I bought it. At home I searched for information about Hedi Schoop.

Sculptor, ceramist, painter, entrepreneuse, her proper name was Hedwig Schoop, born on April 3 1906 in Switzerland into a prominent Zurich family. She died in California in 1995. Following details come from findagrave.com

She studied sculpture, architecture, painting, and fashion design at several European art institutions. With her sister, Trudi Schoop, she is also remembered for her work in European dance and cabaret.
Fleeing the rising Nazi power, she and her husband, renowned composer and torch song writer, Friedrich Hollander, left Germany for Hollywood in 1933. In her new environment, she became an innovator of mid-century California pottery design, and became perhaps the most commercially successful California ceramics designer of the postwar period, and certainly the most ubiquitous. If a Schoop figure proved popular with consumers, an entire line of accompanying décor objects, such as planters, bowls, ashtrays, and candy dishes, and lamps would be built around it. At its busiest in the late 1940s, the studio produced over 30,000 giftware items per year, and employed over fifty workers. The factory was destroyed by fire in 1958, and shortly after that Schoop retired from ceramic design, focusing instead on painting.

In 1943 Hedi Schoop married Ernst Verebes, talented in his own right as a famous actor in European film, and with whom she had a son, Anthony Verebes. The son survives, and is a prominent Los Angeles photographer.

Hedi Schoop designed almost every piece in her line herself, including vases, plates, bowls, ashtrays. Her figurines of men and women are said to be the most popular with collectors.

Many examples of Hedi Schoop ceramics can be seen via Google Image. Some, such as the two shown below, are clearly related in style to my piece, but some others wouldn't have attracted my attention nearly as much as this Dancer did....she was probably waiting there that day, just for me!


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Debate or Not Debate?

I doubt we'll watch the TV "debate" tonight. My view is that the election's "all over bar the shouting" (in favour of the incumbent). Husband tends to froth at the mouth when listening to a Republican for more than 30 seconds. It's sweet really - he actually thinks the Democrat who is now President is any better! We've still got part of West Wing season 4 to get into - may as well watch admitted fiction in place of fiction heavily disguised as real life.

If I'm correct about the outcome of 6 November 2012, then what really is disturbing to consider is what'll happen in 2016, when the political pendulum swings way back rightward. In many ways I'd have preferred to get a Republican prez in now, with a rather stronger Democratic congress. In 2016 the pendulum would surely swing back to a left-winger, and perhaps by then momentum would have built for a real left-wing party to enter the proceedings.

I do not understand why the alternative parties to the plutocratic duopoly do not band together under a new label. The Greens, The Justice Party, Dem Socialists and other scattered seminal organisations could, working together garner sufficient backing to make a showing on almost every state ballot - even in Oklahoma. That might still happen, of course, if in a second term the Prez does not change tack.

Hope springs.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

600-year Arc, Capitalism & Astrology. PART 2.

Part 1 and some interesting comments are HERE.
This post is my attempt to understand a little more about a possible 600-year arc of capitalism. Why? I guess it's to try to decide whether we really are on the cusp of the tail-end of capitalism - or not.


Humans love to predict. From soothsayers of yore studying entrails of an ox, to to day's psychics and astrologers, we've always strained to see beyond our horizons. We feel vulnerable, I suppose, unable to control random events thrown at us by the universe doing what it does best - progressing, albeit very slowly. We think that if we are aware of what's around the next corner we can psych ourselves up to receive it with some measure of equanimity. Prediction, though, isn't reliable, from whatever source it comes. Often those doing the predicting have axes to grind, or a political view to peddle, or other underlying motivations. It's wise to do a little basic research of one's own.

First up, trying to establish how reliable is the theory of the World Systems Analysis school, mentioned by Morris Berman, the writer whose article was quoted in Part 1. Is the "arc" of capitalism really a period of around 600 years: 1500 to 2100?

Where and when did capitalism breathe its first breath?

Tricky question, almost as tricky as "when, and where, will it breathe its last breath?" For brevity and at the expense of total accuracy, I'll concentrate on western development: Britain, Europe and the USA. It has to be mentioned, though, that six hundred years ago the kingdoms of Western Europe compared to Eastern civilisations would have seemed like backwaters, ravaged by continuous wars, disease and plague. Ming China or Ottoman Turkey then led civilization proper. China was the world's most advanced civilization in the 15th century, but stagnated and was overtaken by Dutch mercantilism and the rise of capitalism.

Elements of capitalism were present in the west as far back as 13th and 14th centuries, but not fully-fledged capitalism. Discovery of a sea route to India, put into regular use for trade, together with the rise of powerful French, English and Spanish monarchies, saw new measures established which could be seen as seminal capitalism.

If taken from the 14th century, 1300 - 1400 any 600-year arc of capitalism would have ended already (maybe it has but we just are not aware of yet!)

16th century found ocean voyages and discovery expeditions increasing in scope and danger. Risk factors and potential profits increased. Merchants risking fortunes on unpredictable adventuring needed high levels of support. Governments encouraged them, motivation being increased trade as well as extension of a nation's reach and power i.e. settlements and colonies abroad. Chartered companies were the solution. A charter, granted by the monarch, gave merchant companies a monopoly on trade with a specific region for a certain number of years, and legal power to enforce order in distant places while carrying out business.

Now capitalism began breathing easily!

The Industrial Revolution, from early 19th century onward, brought development of factories, steadily increasing in size, employing large numbers of workers in a single private enterprise.

Now capitalism began its heavy breathing.

The bigger companies and factories became, the wider the divide between workers and employers. Working conditions were bad to horrendous, wages poor, but still a co-dependency had been created. Through the 20th century until today, with boom and bust mini-cycles, capitalism has survived. Whether we are now on the edge of a "bust" period, with capitalism snatching for breath, wheezing away, old and diseased but capable of recovery; or almost at the end of a 600-year arc when the last breath will be drawn, isn't completely clear.

The 600-year arc proposed by researchers doesn't peter out until 2100, so we've around 88 years still to go before the strained last breath of capitalism is experienced, if the calculation is correct.

What of any relevant arcs in astrology?

Some astrologers consider the cycles of the farthest of our inner planets, Saturn and Jupiter, especially conjunctions of these two, to be significant to the topic of capitalism, its rise and fall. Astrologers also rely heavily on the three outer planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and their cycles and aspects to one another for indication of coming events, examining events of the past when similar aspects occurred.

Several outer planet combinations and aspects are possible, many more if including Saturn and Jupiter in the mix, for instance: Uranus/Neptune, Uranus/Pluto, Neptune/Pluto and a few triples too. I find that sorting out astrological cycles and aspects can easily become something of a lucky dip, lending itself to the bending of anything to mean anything. All we have, truly, are best guesses linked to personal experience of what each planet, more often than not, indicates.

Uranus more often than not brings change, Neptune more often than not brings delusion and foggy thinking, Pluto can bring destruction, death and darkness which lead eventually to transformation.

With capitalism in mind we need to establish two things: an exact-as-possible start date to work from - and this for me remains nebulous. Also needed, clarification of which planet(s) are most likely to be involved when investigating capitalism. I can see why astrologers prefer Jupiter and Saturn in this respect. Jupiter = expansion, excess. Saturn = business, the law. A conjunction of the two planets could clearly relate to capitalism - and the cycle of those conjunctions might well show how capitalism progresses. But I think that if capitalism were "on its last legs" we'd have to see Uranus or Pluto prominently indicated at the time Jupiter and Saturn were conjoined or in harmonious aspect - otherwise the indication might just point to capitalism rolling along, booming and busting, in mini-cyclic fashion within a wider arc.

I'm grateful to commenter "mike" at Part 1 for referring me to a blog Astrology and Yoga by astrologer Adam Smith. In a post for 20 September 2012 he wrote, regarding capitalism:
We have seen the archetypal boom and bust, peaking in 2010 with the Jupiter-Saturn opposition, which brought us to the brink. Our present Jupiter-Saturn cycle is the last in Earth for another 600 years, and the present economic tumult is the world saying goodbye to the Industrial Revolution and dog-eat-dog capitalism.

Not to be forgotten are the Uranus/Pluto square (90 degree aspects), seven of 'em, I think, occurring exact at certain points in 2012 to 2015. Bearing in mind that there's up to a 5-year span between 2010 (Jupiter-Saturn opposition) to 2015 (the last Uranus/Pluto square), at some point in this time span we'll see.....what....? Something highly significant relating to capitalism. Whether it'll be its absolute end doesn't strike me as clear-cut at all, but a definite re-jigging or hiccup is coming.

Conclusion - We can't be 100% sure that a 600-year arc is the accurate measure for capitalism's "lifetime"; even if it is near enough correct, the arc's starting point isn't 100% clear. A fair amount of latitude, wiggle-room, needs to be allowed as to calendar years involved, if credence is given to the theory that capitalism is ailing and about to die.

Helpful information on capitalism found HERE and HERE.