Saturday, March 09, 2013


I was interested to read (SEE HERE) that the late Hugo Chavez was a great fan of the writings of Victor Hugo, especially of his famous novel, Les Misérables. I'm almost halfway through that huge tome myself, enjoying it a lot.

From above link
As Daphnée Denis wrote the other day on Slate:

"[Chávez] spent a great deal of time quoting and analyzing Hugo's social novel, the story of the wretched of France -- Cosette, the orphan, Fantine, the prostitute, Jean Valjean, the well-intended convict -- at the beginning of the 19th century... He often evoked the book to defend his policies, reminding the public that his government was devoted to the lower classes, "those who spent much of their life in total misery, as Victor Hugo would say."

Senator Rand Paul can be hailed as be a hero for his stand (but for this stand only) : the anti-drone filibuster. His motives were dubious however. Democrats, even the best of 'em, all except Ron Wyden are war criminals for following in the blood-stained steps of our President.

Some DNA ancestry services akin to 'genetic astrology'
piece by by Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News. "Some customers want to find Viking ancestry, but almost every Briton has some, say researchers....." - and Roman too! We knew that already though, didn't we?

Scientists have described some services provided by companies tracing ancestry using DNA as akin to astrology.Huh? Not sure I get that drift.

Another "Talking Picture" and caption from the husband's vintage collection:

Caption and a comment:

Halderman Seldom knew where he was.
Whenever Halderman spotted someone with a camera, he always managed to get into the picture. Here, while Myra and her mother, Philo and her Aunt Cadbury, posed on the steps of the family summer home, Halderman quietly slipped into the frame. He always smiled so no one ever objected. Someone at the Seldom household next door always came to get him and return him to his lawn-chair lookout position.

Comment: from ed ed (64 months ago): Myra's eyes are cast down. Aunt Cadbury looks stern. Myra's mother chortles. I am wondering if there is a rip in the seat of Halderman's pants?

anyjazz65 (64 months ago, in reply): Oh dear. Do you suppose? There was always the rumor that Halderman had no pockets either.

During my early teenage years, in a small English market town , I would regularly haunt the local library. It was there that I discovered a few books by some American writers whose style I admired greatly - enough to start dreaming of emulating them, and becoming a journalist or newspaper reporter myself. "Dream on" was the message of my headmistress (paraphrased) at a brief career interview. I guess she was right, for opportunities were few and far between.

Those writers who had so impressed me had something in common, something which I discovered later when looking more deeply into astrology. They were all born with Pluto in Gemini.

Sinclair Lewis 7 Feb. 1885 Sauk Center, Minnesota
Dorothy Parker 22 Aug. 1893 West End, New Jersey
James Thurber 8 Dec. 1894 Columbus, Ohio
Ogden Nash 19 Aug. 1902 Rye, New York
S.J. Perelman 1 Feb. 1904 Brooklyn New York
H. Allen Smith 19 Dec 1907 McLeansboro, Illinois.

Gemini and its ruler Mercury represent communication in all its forms. In writers it links to an abstract curiosity, seeking to form a picture of the world and to share perceptions with others. Pluto's transit through Gemini (1883-1912) brought a long period of intense energy to those engaged in this area. I'm tempted to go on about Gemini being basically lighthearted, carefree, but must not forget who else was born into the same generation: Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Ayatollah Khomeini. These men too were communicators, but of a far darker persuasion. Not all writers born with Pluto in Gemini leaned towards light humour and satire either : T.S. Eliot, J.R.R.Tolkein, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, John Steinbeck all were of this same generation. Excellence in writing was a definite feature throughout Pluto's visit to Gemini, these authors were fortunate to have been born under what could be described as "a writer's sky".

Gemini connects also to transportation and other forms of communication as well as writing. During Pluto's transit of Gemini there were many fantastic achievements. The first subway was built in London, the first automatic telephone switchboard was introduced, Marconi invented radio telegraphy, and Zeppelin built his airship.


mike said...

I view Chavez favorably and can see his leadership influenced by "Les Misérables". I live in the US, which has held a dim view of Chavez' politics and that has been reflected in most of the media available to me, except for the more recent years of the internet's globalization of news. He managed to increase resources for the poor, but some say at the expense of the middle and upper levels of income. Likewise, he rewrote his country's constitution favorable to his politics, expanded his legal power through Venezuela's Supreme Court appointments, shut-down opposition media, and has been accused of undermining democracy with authoritarianism in the name of socialism. It will be interesting to see if his leadership will survive revisionist historians.

I wasn't impressed with Rand Paul's filibuster...time could have been spent better and with less advertising for 2016's presidency. It matters NOT, as the Patriot Act gives our president final determination in deciding those needs, regardless of stated assertions by Eric Holder.

Regarding ancestry, here's an excerpt from

"But false paternity causes obvious problems for anyone who values a clear pedigree and makes it a statistical impossibility to trace the true identity of our ancestors back more than a few generations...Robert Moyzis, a molecular geneticist at the University of California at Irvine, recently had to break this news to a friend who had spent considerable energy and resources compiling a family history that stretched back 1,000 years. "I had to plug the numbers into a computer model and prove it to him. The chances that he was related to the ancestor he thought were zero."

I think Myra taped a "KICK ME HARD" sign to Halderman's back...Aunt Cadbury is determined to achieve the deed...right after the photo is taken.

mike (again) said...

As I said earlier, I view Chavez favorably, but there are some matters that can't be ignored, either. Wiki has a very good overview of Hugo Chavez. It may be worthwhile to read the section "Policy Overview"

Much criticism has come from:
Human Rights Watch, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, The International Labor Organization of the United Nations, Amnesty International, Freedom House, Organization of American States, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Well, he's in my "one of the good guys" category, no matter what revisionists write in the future, in order to to sell their books. ;-)

Rand Paul : Yes, but it did get people discussing the drone issue, stopping it from falling "beneath the fold" for a while longer. That can't be bad.

Thanks for the link. That sounds right regarding individual ancestry, yes, agreed. I think the Viking/Roman thing for Britain is simply related to communal ancestry though. It'd be unlikely, for instance, that my ancestors, way, way, way back in the mists of time didn't include one, t'other or both strains Viking/Roman - along with Anglo-Saxon and mongrel. Vikings raped, pillaged and burned; Romans - well, they were probably rather more sedate but the soldiers probably put it about rather a lot among the then natives, many of whom would likely have been part Viking.. ;-)

A sign on Mr Seldom's back is a distinct possibility!

I do wonder though, if the reality wasn't that Mr Seldom was proud head of an early Ménage à Quatre. ;-)

Twilight said...

mike (again) I've skimmed through the Wiki page. Chavez was obviously fallible - in many ways - but his steadfast support of the poor and weak, for me trumps anything else he did that proved unacceptable to some bodies/critics, who no doubt had their own axes, of one sort or another, to grind. :-)

mike (again) said...

I've always been impressed with Chavez' support of the poor, too. My thoughts lately, particularly with his death, have been in consideration of the effects of various types of systems and their subgroups: capitalism, socialism, and communism...all versus the gold standard of altruistic consideration of fellow Earthlings. This has been discussed in several of your posts.

Chavez practiced a hybrid of democracy, socialism, and communism, from what I can glean. His tremendous restructuring of Venezuela allowed for the lower economic class to gain access to housing, food, education, health care, and jobs. This was done at the expense of other vital considerations, which are also required for sustained infrastructure and growth over the duration.

The inflation rate in Venezuela has been soaring for a number of years and their money drastically devalued ["Inflation for the 12 months ended on Jan. 31 was 22.2 percent, one of the highest rates in Latin America", NY Times, Feb.8, 2013]. Commodities, primarily food, have been in short supply or not available, due to Chavez' land restructuring, agricultural restrictions, and state-operated food stores. The high inflation rate makes imported food too expensive for the poor.

I guess what I'm getting at here is that, while Chavez did wonders initially, it appears his efforts are collapsing and, unfortunately, the poor are paying the price. Excessive inflation makes everything that costs money inaccessible to the poor. And this on top of food shortages for the past several years, which has had a large impact on the hungry. As with China, many of Venezuela's poor were removed from their farms and provided housing, making them more dependent on the system. I am inclined to believe that Chavez' short-term gains were not sufficient over the long-term and any benefit to the poor has been stripped away by these same non-sustainable social-political changes. This has been achieved by minimizing the pre-Chavez democracy, human rights, and freedoms.

I haven't been giving Chavez and Venezuela much thought-time the past several years with all of the other global considerations. With Chavez' illness and death, I am viewing Venezuela's situation and weighing it in the great capitalism-socialism-communism game that humans play.

JD said...

ah yes, James Thurber. Now that triggered a little switch in my memory!
Can you remember the TV series based on his writing and cartoons?

Quick search round the U-bend; er sorry the U-Tube, and I found this-

The series didn't last long but was most enjoyable.
When will it be repeated?

Twilight said...

mike ~~ As I think I commented during the week, nobody has ever been able to "do" socialism/communism/capitalism properly. Chavez is a good example I suppose. But he did have to begin from a very low starting point, demanding extreme measures in order to help the poor and the state into which his country had fallen.

Then, I guess (but what do I know, I find it hard to untangle the mess of information on economies and financial doings) then, he couldn't stop the momentum of what he'd put in motion. (???)

Anyone brave enough to try to adjust things in the USA, for instance, wouldn't be starting at such a low point, if it were done fairly soon. But balance would still be essential, and it's the balance that seems elusive - every time. Greed and lust for power and control overtake all else.

That's how it appears to me anyway, Mike.

Twilight said...

JD ~~ Ah! Thanks for mentioning that show, My World and Welcome to It , JD. I'd forgotten that my husband had told me about it a while ago, and said he'd put his name down at Amazon to be informed if ever the show is made available on DVD. Nothing so far though.

I love Thurber's cartoons, and his writings and general style. We looked around his house, now open to visitors, in Columbus, Ohio when on a visit there to see husband's younger son some years ago.

I touched the keys of Thurber's typewriter !! :-)

Last TV connection I know of was when Keith Olbermann started reading from one of
Thurber's books of short stories as a Friday evening treat on his now defunct political show on MSNBC. Keith is off TV altogether now due to fall-outs with superiors, so no chance of more of the same.

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