Saturday, June 29, 2013

1) Gays' Hurrays.....2) Zodiac Types in Fiction

#1....Good news arrived for the LGBT front this week:
In a pair of major victories for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and, by declining to decide a case from California, effectively allowed same-sex marriages there................(SEE HERE)

Lots of articles and commentary have flooded the net on this topic already, so I'm limiting my own contribution to links to previous postings touching on the Gay rights issue (most have some comments attached):

From March this year:
GAY MARRIAGE

from June 2011:
Homosexuality, Astrology, Prejudice

From June 2009:

Stonewall, Prejudice, Astrology.




#2..ZODIAC TYPES in FICTION (Gone With the Wind, Little Women, Ally McBeal.)

I wonder how often authors of novels, or screen writers for film and television consider astrology, or more likely, simplified Sun Sign astrology, when describing characteristics of the individuals who bring to life their books and dramas? I've thought about this several times in the past - there are posts on this very topic relating to Gone With the Wind (HERE) and Little Women (HERE) with suggestions in the posts and in several comments beneath them as to astrological matches to characters in the novels.

Another instance of what I'll call ZIF (Zodiac in Fiction) came up for me recently. We're years late catching up with what used to be a hugely popular TV series in the USA from 1997 to 2002: Ally McBeal.

My husband, out on some errand by himself spotted a garage sale in the neighbourhood and came home clutching a big white box, still cellophane wrapped. It was the entire 5-season series of Ally McBeal on DVD, and he paid only $3 for it plus another, single DVD (can't even recall the film). Such sets cost a lot more than $3 on the net. We suspect this set might have been produced for the Chinese market, a clue: choice of subtitles = Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin - and English. We're almost to the end of Season 2 now, and greatly enjoying the series.

Ally McBeal was created and mostly written by David E. Kelley whose series are always A-grade (LA Law, Boston Legal, The Practice, Picket Fences, Harry's Law to name the best known).
More on Kelley, and his natal chart in an archived post HERE.

The Ally McBeal series had a super cast, good musical interludes with vocalist Vonda Shepard, well-written characters, humour, romance, whimsy, fantasy and frequently interesting courtroom dramas.

Ally McBeal, played by Calista Flockhart, and one of the senior partners of the law firm for which she works, John Cage, played by Peter MacNicol, share a birthday we were told in the course of Season 2. This revelation immediately had me surmising on a Sun sign for them. It had already become obvious the two had similar characteristics: a definite quirkiness, romantic awkwardness, mild eccentricity and frequent dips into whimsy, while both remained talented in their professional life as courtroom lawyers. A quick Google search sent me to a site where commenters were betting on Scorpio as Ally's likely Sun sign - mainly because it's Calista Flockhart's, who plays Ally. That could not possibly be correct, here's why.

Each season devotes an episode to Thanksgiving and an episode to Christmas, presumably to be screened during November and December. Characters are always muffled in scarves, gloves and hats for outdoor scenes, it's often snowing in Boston,where the series was set, in these episodes. In season 2, in an episode following fairly quickly after the Christmas one, there was a combined birthday celebration for Ally and John - so it could not possibly have taken place in Scorpio time. More likely, and I had already suspected, Ally and John, and their shared whimsy, fantasy, and eccentricities alongside otherwise very astute legal minds, must surely have Neptune/Pisces and/or Aquarius/Neptune/Pisces prominent, with likely some Capricorn in there too, strong link to the law.

It's all just fiction, of course. I doubt that David E. Kelley gives two hoots about astrology, though perhaps one of his assistants might have offered hints.

If any passing reader has an instance of ZIF, a pet fictional character or situation, from well-known novels, TV or films, with likely matching Sun Sign - do let me know !

Friday, June 28, 2013

Arty Farty Spyday

As espionage is currently in the news, courtesy of Edward Snowden, I thought I'd take a look to see whether, over the centuries, spying has ever inspired artistic endeavours. It has been said that spying ties for first place with prostitution for the "Oldest Profession" award, so I'd expect some artist somewhere, at sometime, would have been sufficiently inspired to show it to us.

Several pieces of art depicting spying, found via Google Image, related to a Biblical story telling how Moses sent 12 spies, a man from each tribe, to suss out the land of Canaan. Their task: to find out about the land and its people. Did they live in cities or in camps? What the fruit of the land was like, and if they had forests or not. He asked them to bring back some of the fruit found there. Lots of illustrations show the men returning with grapes etc. I chose these rather more "arty" examples instead:


Escape of the Spies from Canaan by James James Lesesne Wells (1932)




The Spies Escape by Frederic Lord Leighton (1881)




Moving away from biblical stories, there's this, from India:

Krishna spies on Radha from the rooftop, Punjab Hills, Nurpur, India circa 1710.





There's also The Spy by Arthur David McCormick (1860-1943)




For a more contemporary take:
As part of the 2009 centenary celebrations of the British Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, artist James Hart Dyke was invited to record their work in a series of paintings and sketches. This unique project saw James working closely with SIS for a year, both in the UK and abroad. Given the sensitivity of the work, James had to observe the need for secrecy and his access to SIS was carefully controlled. Whilst the paintings do not identify actual officers, agents, operations, or actual events, James managed to produce a series of images illustrating this unusual and secretive world. (See HERE)


One of the paintings by James Hart Dyke




And, perhaps also relating to that centenary:

The Spy of Her Majesty by Eugene Ivanov (2009)




Finally, a painting closer to home - actually at home in fact. I featured it in one of my first Arty Farty Friday posts, in 2007. It does fit today's category so:

The Powers Trial



An oil painting by Himself - my husband. He painted it sometime in the early 1960s and called it The Powers Trial. (A larger view should be available by clicking on the picture).

When I first noticed this painting it was stored in a closet with a pile of others a young Himself had worked on many years ago. I liked it immediately for the shapes and colours. I later discovered that the main figure represents Francis Gary Powers, the U.2 pilot shot down while flying over Soviet Union airspace on May 1, 1960, sparking one of the greatest international crises of the Cold War. Husband said that for some reason the trial of Powers had affected him deeply, and this painting was more of a doodle than a serious painting about it. He just started drawing shapes on canvas one day and ended up sketching directly with oil colour.

I'm not sure the detail will show clearly on computer screen, but the scales of justice appear in the centre, some heads of observers in the background, representing the eyes of the world upon the proceedings, and a small depiction of Powers' wife in the lower left square. The figure to the left represents an attorney.

Gary Powers was born on 17 August 1929 in Jenkins, Kentucky. On the date Powers was shot down, 1 May 1960, his natal Pluto at 18* Cancer was being opposed by transiting Saturn at 18* Capricorn - such an opposition between two powerful planets might well be significant here. Saturn represents the law, limitation, and possibly imprisonment. Pluto is the modern ruler of Scorpio, said to represent, among other things, secrets and spying.

When Powers returned to the USA (as part of an East/West spy-swap) he was criticised for not ensuring that the revolutionary plane was destroyed, or killing himself with a suicide pin or pill. Powers was cold-shouldered by his former employers at the CIA. He died in 1977 at the age of 47 when a TV news helicopter he was piloting crashed in Los Angeles. On May 1, 2000, U.S. officials presented Powers' family with his posthumously awarded Prisoner-of-War Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the National Defense Service Medal.
Info. from http://www.answers.com/topic/francis-gary-powers

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Native Gland

The following is obliquely related to yesterday's post:

If the heart is our human powering pump, the brain a computer, then the glands are keys on a keyboard required for our human machine to function efficiently, but in ways personal to each individual. (I made that up, it's simplistic and quite possibly erroneous academically, but it works for me!)

A book by Frank McGillion, Blinded by Starlight, provided me with cause to hope that some scientists might retain open minds on the subject of astrology. I bought this book in 2006, it was first published in 2002. I would recommend it to anyone who has given up on the idea of an astrological "mechanism", or a theory of cause and effect - something astrologers these days tend to deride.

The book's central thesis is as follows, from Garry Phillipson's review:
"The pineal gland is an important factor in the way we perceive the world and act in it; the pineal produces its effects by secreting melatonin; it has been demonstrated in laboratory conditions that magnetic fields and exposure to light affect the production of melatonin; therefore anything which affects light levels or changes magnetic fields on Earth (which of course includes some celestial phenomena) may be linked to human character and behaviour; if scientists were less blinkered they would pursue research into correlations between celestial and terrestrial influences; the pineal gland is a promising place to start such research, because by examining responses in the pineal to celestial phenomena we could, so to speak, cut out the middleman - avoiding the need to isolate significant behaviour patterns in large groups by going directly to (some of the) causes of that behaviour - light and magnetic fields, and their effects on the pineal...........................

More important than any reservations, the fact that I was left wanting more reflects the fact that this is a book of real intelligence and substance. McGillion claims to have "made an irrefutable link between the positions of at least the traditional planets at the time of our birth and our later development and behaviour." (p.201). Whilst some might want to contest the use of 'irrefutable', he certainly succeeds in suggesting that - within a scientific frame of reference - there is something going on in the relationship between celestial and human affairs. He also provides abundant evidence to sketch the means by which this something may be operating. I think he would acknowledge that it can't yet be clear where an investigation of this work might lead, but the case for pursuing it is clearly established here."

I'm convinced, always have been, that one day proof will be found that there is some kind of "cause and effect" mechanism behind the basic premise of astrology, i.e. that the Sun, Moon, planets and their relative positions in the sky at time of birth, have physical effect on humans (and other creatures). Most astrologers moved away from this type of theory in the face of attack from scientists intent on discrediting astrology. I am not an astrologer, and I am not interested in what skeptic scientists have to say on the matter. I know what I know.
What we feel and think and are is to a great extent determined by the state of our ductless glands and viscera.
~ Aldous Huxley

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Standing Ovation - A Slow Handclap - and A WHERE ARE THEY? ( Extra-terrestrials) and A Little Astrology.

Standing ovation and 3 cheers for Texas state senator Wendy Davis (Democrat), who last night spoke for more than 10 hours, a filibuster attempt in a bid to run out the voting window on a bill which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required all clinics to be graded as surgical centers, with all doctors required to have admitting privileges at hospitals, due to which most of the state's clinics wouldn't have been able to meet the new standards. Her attempt stalled about two hours ahead of the deadline over a complaint that she had violated rules. The Republican-controlled Senate then began voting on the bill, amid protests from spectators. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (Republican), after meeting with lawmakers, said some of their votes came in after midnight local time (0500 GMT), the effective end of the 30-day special session. He blamed the "unruly mob" at the capitol, according to the Dallas Morning News. (Three cheers for the "unruly mob" too!) Governor Rick "Oops" Perry could still revive the proposal by calling the legislature into a new special session. HERE.

BUT

Sarcastic slow hand clap for SCOTUS and especially for Chief Justice Roberts (Sun Aquarius, 27 Jan. like me) who should know better, for invalidating part of the Voting Rights Act, thus allowing several pieces of legislation in the states, designed to make voting more difficult for minorities, stalled by Section 4 of the Act 'til now, to go through unhindered - until Congress writes a new Section 4 (could be never!)HERE.


Oh my! So, let's talk of other things...."shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings", and extra-terrestrials:


I can't now remember which online article set me on a search - a wild goose chase for information on Fermi's Paradox (aka "Where are They?"). Whatever I'd been reading must have been about the likelihood of contact from extra-terrestrial civilisations.
(Illustration: h/t to William M. Briggs )



Wikipedia's page details numerous ideas on the possible reasons for extra-terrestrial non-communication to date.

In a nutshell Fermi's Paradox is explained HERE thus:
The story goes that, one day back on the 1940's, a group of atomic scientists, including the famous Enrico Fermi, were sitting around talking, when the subject turned to extraterrestrial life. Fermi is supposed to have then asked, "So? Where is everybody?" What he meant was: If there are all these billions of planets in the universe that are capable of supporting life, and millions of intelligent species out there, then how come none has visited earth?
For anyone who holds the belief that "there is something" in astrology, in its most basic premise anyway, a whole different set of questions arises in addition to "where are they?" Fermi's Paradox really proves the height of human hubris: based on the assumption that alien life forms will be similar to us in desires, aims, broad personality traits, similar technological advances, and ability, or wish, to be communicative, and communicative in some way we'd appreciate and associate with what we know as communication.

From Wikipedia's page on Fermi's Paradox this explanation for the non-communication, so far, came the closest to my own feelings:
They are too alien

Another possibility is that human theoreticians have underestimated how much alien life might differ from that on Earth. Aliens may be psychologically unwilling to attempt to communicate with human beings. Perhaps human mathematics is parochial to Earth and not shared by other life, though others argue this can only apply to abstract math since the math associated with physics must be similar (in results, if not in methods.)

Physiology might also cause a communication barrier. In Contact, Carl Sagan briefly speculated that an alien species might have a thought process orders of magnitude slower (or faster) than humans. Such a species could conceivably speak so slowly that it requires years to say even a simple phrase like "Hello". A message broadcast by that species might well seem like random background noise to humans, and therefore go undetected.

Scientists routinely ignore astrology, of course. The vast majority of 'em look on astrology as absolute rubbish or ignorant superstition. I don't accept, wholesale, what astrology textbooks set out either, I believe there is some rubbish to be found there, a fact which has done the reputation of astrology no good at all. But I believe that there is something in astrology's basic premise.

At one of my favourite websites on the net The Library of Halexandria Dr. Dan Sewell Ward quotes Arthur M. Young on Astrology, and mainstream science’s inability to come to grips with it. the whole extract is great stuff, here's the part I want to highlight:
“..........So I must take the gods and their correlation with the planets on faith. Let us see what this faith entails.

“I . That the solar system is an organon.

“II. That the organon is ‘a process machine’ having a number of distinct periodicities or rhythms.

“III. That said rhythms are indicated by the planets.

“IV. That the direction in which planets ‘point’ at any given time indicates, or creates, the zeitgeist of that time.

“V. That the pointing of the planets produces such zeitgeist because the directions are themselves different in quality.

“VI. That the planets, because of their difference of period, contribute to the different powers of persons.

“VII. That a person’s birth is an introduction into this organon. A birth is an enrollment, as it were, to ‘take a course in the universe.’ The birth establishes the central stance. The motion of the planets thereafter" establishes the scenario.”

For the sake of argument, even if a passing reader be a devout non-believer in astrology, just assume for a moment that there is some validity in the ancient doctrine's basic premise. If life has arisen on another planet, either in our own Milky Way galaxy, or in another galaxy far, far away, planetary components, in relation to position of the Sun (or a star in place of our Sun in another galaxy) will be very different from what we experience on Earth. Life forms, even if vaguely comparable to humans physically, would be psychologically different, in ways we cannot even begin to contemplate, because our Earth-bound minds are just that: "bound" - unable to stretch.

I looked around the net to discover whether any brave astrologer had tackled this topic head-on. The only examples touching on this, even obliquely, I was able to find were:
HERE
"• First you have to deal with a larger question: What happens to astrology if humans colonize space?
• And, of course, does astrology even make sense for fictional characters and stories?
• Another consideration is whether or not our science fiction tales reflect an astrological zeitgeist?"
And Extraterrestrial Astrology by Luciano Drusetta HERE.

Our Earth-bound minds are shackled to narrow perceptions, on every issue.

The more I think about this, the more I believe that expecting communication from extra-terrestrial living beings has to be a lost cause. A passing reader might consider it strange that I chose that particular photograph as my overall blog header: The Very Large Array in New Mexico. It's a daily reminder of an exciting trip there, and it proves one thing about Earthlings, myself included of course: we live in hope.

Monday, June 24, 2013

New Fashion Fascism?

Very little in the news is uplifting these days, the best at present is that Edward Snowden has not yet been arrested and was reported yesterday to be en route to a country where he could be granted political asylum. We'll discover exactly where he's headed soon enough, but where are we, as a country, headed? Although, as has been acknowledged before here in posts and comments, blanket surveillance of the population of the USA and elsewhere by our government didn't come as an absolute surprise; recent re-revelations have opened up valuable new conversations on the topic and have kick-started more writings on "where we'll be headed" if nothing changes.

Is there a "new fascism" either already in place or on the rise here in the USA? Our view of what fascism means is coloured by what we know of history, comparatively recent history from the 1930s onward. I've seen, from time to time around the net lists of "symptoms" of fascism - many are easily identifiable in today's USA, but I'm certainly not qualified to make a confident diagnosis. As in physical disease, certain symptoms can mask other problems, or the same set of symptoms combined in different proportions might be evidence of some other, still serious, ailment.

A good, reliable, starting point to understanding what's what is investigative journalist John Pilger's article: There's a New Fascism on the Rise, and the NSA Leaks Show Us What It Looks Like: The power of truth-tellers like Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema, the corporate academy and the corporate media.
Snowden’s revelation that Washington has used Google, Facebook, Apple and other giants of consumer technology to spy on almost everyone, is further evidence of modern form of fascism – that is the "abyss". Having nurtured old-fashioned fascists around the world – from Latin America to Africa and Indonesia – the genie has risen at home. Understanding this is as important as understanding the criminal abuse of technology.
I liked this comment from the long thread beneath Pilger's excellent piece - it's from William W. Haywood:
The US form of fascism does not look exactly like any thing we have seen so far, and why should it? There has never been a nation like the US. There is no exact form of fascism, either! Fascism is based on taking control of a nation's economy like an aids virus compromises an immune system. The fascists mutate into a form we don't readily recognize to get their work done. It doesn't attack from the outside but learns how to unlock the defenses of our democratic system using the power of wealth. This is what you see when a fascist form of government has taken control: first, it starts to prey on the citizens and institutions that once kept it democratic, and then it reverts to a full blown disease that destroys its host. This is the phase we are entering now.

An offshoot - and a dangerous one - is brought to our attention by a article from "Digby"
This Really is Big Brother: The Leak Nobody's Noticed

SNIP: Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.....................President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.
The program could make it easier for the government to stifle the flow of unclassified and potentially vital information to the public, while creating toxic work environments poisoned by unfounded suspicions and spurious investigations of loyal Americans, according to these current and former officials and experts. Some non-intelligence agencies already are urging employees to watch their co-workers for “indicators” that include stress, divorce and financial problems.

And, from Bernie Sanders:



I found, among my drafts a list a commenter at Common Dreams, some months ago, provided on a topic touching on fascism in the USA - this is a list of "symptoms" by commenter "Jimbo.  "Jimbo"   set out to illustrate to readers that in the USA we are on the edge of a precipice, likely at any time to fall into a 21st century version of a fascist nation, albeit fascist with a pretty bow on top, a smartphone, i-pad, and a large-screen TV attached - initially. The commenter presented a list of evidential facts to support the premise. (I'm confident that the author of the comment would not object to my spreading the word, blanket permission was given another individual to do so.)

The List (slightly condensed here, for brevity's sake)

Some of the achievements during Obama's "Lesser Evilism Reign of Terror Traveling Road Show." The list is not exhaustive and covers only recent history:

Obama and the Democrats' Fascist Maneuverings:

Executive Order to create a Cat Food Commission stacked with anti-Social Security / Social Program corporatists.

White House opposed bringing back Glass Steagall.

WARS fully funded and EXPANDING- see AFRICOM.

Trillion dollars given to friends and campaign contributors on Wall Street.

Military Spending INCREASED.

Trillion+Dollars given to the Health Insurance Industry.

Killed possibility for a REAL “Public Option” or REAL Universal Health Care for at least another generation, and begin the “Entitlement Reform” defunding of Medicare (-$500 Billion).

Blocked ANY re-regulation of BIG BANKS and Credit Cards.

Protected the Bush War Criminals and Torturers from JUSTICE.

Expanded Drone Assasinations.

Reinforced the worst Police State provisions of the Patriot Act.

Expanded government surveillance.

EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act) killed in the crib

Free Trade Job Off-shoring.

Supports De-regulation (see: Clinton & Death of Glass-Steagal)

NDAA / Expansion of Government Power.

Bernanke, Geithner. Holder.

Monsanto @ FDA.

Linking Social Security to the Deficit via the Payroll Tax “Holiday”

Crackdown on Occupy movement via Homeland Security.

Whistleblowers, a-la Bradley Manning & WikiLeaks attacked

Shielded BP for its Gulf Disaster

Pushed through the Trans Pacific Partnership

Expanded Military Involvement in Africa

Education plan boosts privatization, victimizes teachers

Put Pesticide Pusher in Charge of Agricultural Trade Relations.

Indefinitely imprisons detainees without charges

Promotes the Militarization of Mexico

Supports the Permanent War Budget

20,000 Airstrikes in President Obama's First Term Cause Death and Destruction From Iraq to Somalia.

Signed the NDAA into law - making it legal to assassinate Americans w/o charge or trial.

Initiated, and personally oversees a 'Secret Kill List'.

Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.

Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.

Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.

Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.

Maintained a presence in Iraq even after "ending" the war.

Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.

Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries.

Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia.

Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia.

Opened a military base in Chile.

Signed the Patriot Act extension into law.

Deported a modern-record 1.5 million immigrants.

Continued Bush's rendition program.

Sent U.S. troops to Niger to set up drone base

Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, Indefinite detention
without charge or trial, Targeted killings of suspects by drone,
without any pretense of due process (even if they are US citizens).
These are not opinions these are ordinary facts- if it smells like fascism.............



From elsewhere a down-to-earth view of our plight and the difficulties we face in addressing it, by commenter "Nevada Liberal" (I've stupidly lost the source)
You would have to elect 218 Alan Graysons to the House. 60 Bernie Sanders' to the Senate. And Elect Dennis Kucinich as President in order to stop this thing you profess not to like. Off the top, 50% of the Nation would vehemently disagree with me. And, even if you could do that, it would still take you.....????.....10 - 20 years to turn the Supreme Court to that ideology, if you could maintain power that long???? You starting to kinda sorta get a feel for where we are at folks. Until then, keep calm and carry on.
(Nevada Liberal)

OR....if an opportunity should arise the more pro-active route would be
:

If fascism is indeed the disease we face, it will prove to be terminal to our way of life. Whereas socialism and capitalism might prove, with much sincere and determined effort from both sides, to become workable bedfellows in government, that other "ism" - fascism - is good for nothing and nobody in any civilised and humane society.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Minding Our Progress

Our great contemporary scientific geniuses are to be admired, one of these, Raymond Kurzweil about whom there's an archived post HERE - was mentioned in a piece at HuffPo's Science section this week, by Tanya Lewis: Mind Uploading' & Digital Immortality May Be Reality By 2045, Futurists Say. ...SNIPS:



NEW YORK — By 2045, humans will achieve digital immortality by uploading their minds to computers — or at least that's what some futurists believe. This notion formed the basis for the Global Futures 2045 International Congress, a futuristic conference held here June 14-15................................
By 2045, "based on conservative estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human brain, we'll be able to expand the scope of our intelligence a billion-fold," Kurzweil said...............................

Mind uploading~~~~The conference took a surreal turn when Martine Rothblatt — a lawyer, author and entrepreneur, and CEO of biotech company United Therapeutics Corp. — took the stage. Even the title of Rothblatt's talk was provocative: "The Purpose of Biotechnology is the End of Death."

Rothblatt introduced the concept of "mindclones" — digital versions of humans that can live forever. She described how the mind clones are created from a "mindfile," a sort of online repository of our personalities, which she argued humans already have (in the form of Facebook, for example). This mindfile would be run on "mindware," a kind of software for consciousness. "The first company that develops mindware will have [as much success as] a thousand Googles," Rothblatt said. But would such a mindclone be alive? Rothblatt thinks so. She cited one definition of life as a self-replicating code that maintains itself against disorder. Some critics have shunned what Rothblatt called "spooky Cartesian dualism," arguing that the mind must be embedded in biology. On the contrary, software and hardware are as good as wet ware, or biological materials, she argued. Rothblatt went on to discuss the implications of creating mindclones. Continuity of the self is one issue, because your persona would no longer inhabit just a biological body. Then, there are mind-clone civil rights, which would be the "cause célèbre" for the 21st century, Rothblatt said. Even mindclone procreation and reanimation after death were mentioned.
That's all very "skiffy". If predictions by would-be futurists from the past are anything to go by the date 2045, a mere 32 years ahead, will be found to have been decidedly optimistic. But in any case, is this the kind of thing the best and brightest scientific brains on the planet ought to be focusing on? How about lending a few genius-tinted thoughts to climate change, water shortages, new power sources? We need the best and brightest minds on these right now.

I'm the last one to criticise the human urge towards progress, but it does depend in which direction the progress would seem to be heading. A few with more fluent pens than mine have said something along those lines:
“Some upstarts always try to get closer to the source of creation by ascending to the source's level. The story of Icarus is of course a parable about the folly of such an effort. Get too close to the sun and your hubris will get you burned. Yet in the eyes of twenty-first-century capitalist culture, which worships at the twin altars of the individual and technology, Icarus had initiative. And his melted wings do not represent some deep character flaw; he just needed better beta testers.”
― Marcus Wohlsen, Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life.



“Progress is something with no pity, and no purpose. It just happens. It chews up all you ever knew, and spits out things you can't understand, and the only value it seems to have is to make a few people a lot of money.”
― Spider Robinson, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.



“We have laboured long to build a heaven, only to find it populated with horrors.”
― Alan Moore, Watchmen.



“The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it's easy to fall off.”
― Anderson Cooper.



“After the monkeys came down from the trees and learned to hurl sharp objects, they had had to move into caves for protection--not only from the big predatory cats but, as they began to lose their monkey fur, from the elements. Eventually, they started transposing their hunting fantasies onto cave walls in the form of pictures, first as an attempt at practical magic and later for the strange, unexpected pleasure they discovered in artistic creation.
Time passed. Art came off the walls and turned into ritual. Ritual became religion. Religion spawned science. Science led to big business. And big business, if it continues on its present mindless, voracious trajectory, could land those of us lucky enough to survive its ultimate legacy back into caves again.”

― Tom Robbins, Villa Incognito.



“It would be advisable to think of progress in the crudest, most basic terms: that no one should go hungry anymore, that there should be no more torture, no more Auschwitz. Only then will the idea of progress be free from lies.”
― Theodor W. Adorno

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice ~ Hopper's and Vettriano's Summers

Today: Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, while winter begins in the southern half of the globe.

Oklahoma summers are not my cup o' tea by a long chalk. Why? The extreme heat, the insect bites, the allergies..... so excuse me if I don't celebrate with wild enthusiasm. To mark the day, though, I'll pull out half a dozen depictions of summer by a couple of favouite painters of mine. These two don't paint leafy glades and gardens filled with flowers, instead their summers are urbane in flavour rather than rural.....It comes as a surprise that I find a more evocative sense of summer in these works than from any rural or floral scene, even those painted by the best of the best. My two chosen painters: Edward Hopper and Jack Vettriano, the former is a well-loved American artist, the latter artist is sometimes - always even - derided by critics, but that only endears him to me the more!

There are archived posts on both artists with notes about their astrology HERE
and HERE.


Edward Hopper's summer ~~







Jack Vettriano's summer ~~





And a matching track: The Summer Knows - theme from the 1971 movie The Summer of '42. It was composed by multiple Oscar and Grammy Award winner, French composer Michel Legrand, with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, sung here by Scott Walker, whose rendition has just the right "feel" to it to blend with these paintings.


Or...if a female vocalist is preferred, it'd be hard to top Ms Streisand's version -nice video with this one too:


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Secret Was Really No Secret

I thought "The Secret" had disappeared into the mists of time, until the next manifestation of its old message - but I was wrong.
From “Bling Ring” to Oprah, “The Secret” lives on: ( from Salon this week):
In this era of class immobility, the self-help book looks less relevant than ever -- but don't count it out yet
By Daniel D'Addario

In 2006, Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book “The Secret” took the world by storm. It was utterly inescapable, selling millions of copies, spawning a movie, and earning the devotion of Oprah Winfrey, all upon the premise that persistent and focused visualization could bring the ardent follower huge rewards.

Time hasn’t been kind to “The Secret,” though; the philosophy has gone from hot new thing to object of fun. The new film “The Bling Ring,” about a group of teen criminals, treats one family’s devotion to “The Secret” as an uproarious joke.

Here's an edited version of a post of mine from 2007 on The Secret:

It's an old message. It's not a "Secret" either - at least not to those of us of a certain age. My husband provided evidence of this - he wandered off into the garage, where he stores his obscenely large collection of LPs, and came back with "The Strangest Secret" an old 10-inch LP narrated by Earl Nightingale (record sleeve, left). I'd never heard of this gentleman, but it appears that in America he was one of the the best-known motivational gurus of the 1950s.

The message contained in "The Strangest Secret" is the same as in countless other books, tapes, records, films, some from even before the 1950s, and many more since. For successive generations the message has been presented differently packaged in a variety of guises : Creative Visualisation, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Make Friends and Influence People, Cosmic Ordering; for some astrology fans there are New Moon Wish Lists. These are just a few examples - and now there's "The Secret". A whole industry has sprung up, ostensibly advising people on how to enjoy their lives more.

The message, or "secret", from all of the above sources, can be distilled to two words "think positive!" For some of us this is sufficient, and a natural part of our makeup. Others need to be coaxed and given a boost of confidence, helped by anecdotes, examples and illustrations. Still others just need someone to "flick the switch" for them, so that a dormant natural tendency can come to the fore.

One of the most frequent criticisms of "The Secret" is that it concentrates on, and creates a materialistic mindset. There's a downside to everything. Perhaps in today's climate, materialism is the only thing strong enough to attract the attention of the number of people required to make an enterprise ..... profitable.

As I see it there's no secret, no magic, no woo-woo. It's a matter of maintaining single-mindedness, a determination to keep showing-up with your most passionate desire in focus at all times, that's the key to all "Secret"-ish endeavours. If you don't follow through, and keep on....and on...and on following through, nothing will change in the way you had in mind - trust me! It's all in the small print of this, and every other "secret".

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LAND OF DOUBTS

The Edward Snowden story has grown several different sets of legs; news stories in the USA tend to do this.


Call it a growing distrust, or conspiracy theorising, call it critical thinking, call it general whacko-nuttery, but it happens.

A couple of front-runners (other than the always-out-there Alex Jones) in the "story has different legs" category are Naomi Wolf and Jon Rappoport.

Ms Wolf has the feeling that all is not exactly as presented to the public, and that Snowden's history and attitudes do not pass the smell test of an astute/intuitive looker-on. My own initial feelings were along those lines too (I wrote that I "felt uncomfortable" about it all, without knowing exactly why). However, Dave Lindorff, whose writings I've long respected (his website is among my links - see This Can't Be Happening) isn't convinced by the points Ms Wolf raises. Her opinion swings towards the idea that the whole thing is a staged "reveal" - her whole piece is HERE, it ends with:
"But do consider that in Eastern Germany, for instance, it was the fear of a machine of surveillance that people believed watched them at all times – rather than the machine itself – that drove compliance and passivity. From the standpoint of the police state and its interests – why have a giant Big Brother apparatus spying on us at all times – unless we know about it?"

Jon Rappaport's views were featured at Cannonfire a few days ago (Friday 14 June), by another respected blogger from my links. (Update: See also the post for Tuesday 18 June there). Snip from Mr Rappoport's piece (for all of it, see HERE) :
"Scandals, and how they’re presented to the public through the press, are rarely what they seem.
The players are different, their motives are different, and they’re trading blows in a different arena.
They’re accessing the Matrix and manipulating it at levels invisible to the general public, who are trained by mass media to look in the wrong direction."

It's a bit like looking at the situation through a set of those magic mirrors often found in fairgrounds: different, possibly distorted, possibly accurate views of the same thing. It's the way some of us see the President too (see my own post Obama x 3).

Suspicious minds, like that old song Elvis sang : "We're caught in a trap....We can't go on together with suspicious minds". Nobody trusts anybody any more, often for valid reasons. At the core: the government doesn't trust any of us, we don't trust the government, some speak out, some of us distrust even their motives. Where does it end?

A commenter online, sadly I failed to keep a reference to the source, pointed out a danger in this mushrooming climate of distrust:
If you read most peoples' writings from the most totalitarian states, or the most competent and cogent figures in political fiction, and the motif remains the same: The worst part of totalitarianism is the public distrust sown between neighbours, when you believe that each other member of the state is a potential part of the apparatus that monitors you. Resisting a monolithic authority is possible when you can combine. Resisting the rest of your citizens is impossible, because you are alone.

What's the remedy? Is there one? Keeping an open mind is the only way, I guess.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prisms

PRISM. I wish the geeks of NSA hadn't called their spying program by that name, however appropriate it might appear to be. Prism is a lovely word, or was before we had to add to it the dark spectre of being spied upon.

In centuries past prisms were used on old sailing vessels to let sunlight into gloomy areas: deck prisms. (See photograph HERE). I suppose those at NSA, who hit upon this name for their spy-baby, thought they'd be letting light into areas formerly thought to be, while not dark, certainly out of bounds to the wandering eye.

As poet e.e. cummings wrote:
“The Symbol of all Art is the Prism. The goal is destructive. To break up the white light of objective realism into the secret glories it contains.” Destructive- yes, in this case destructive of privacy.

Artist Jonathan Saiz, while spending time on the island of Mykonos in 2011/12, painted a series of gorgeous large oil paintings he titled Alkahest; he defines that word as "the hypothetical universal solvent sought by the alchemist".
"In this crystalline form everything is made of the multitude - the splendors of Versailles, the rearing stallion and other distractions or ambitions. A curious history restlessly shifting, its charged particles and reflections dissolving into a universal something. Its mystical alignment ordered by instinct or impulse where themes emerge through incoherent leaps and th vague impressions of something more about to appear or having just faded."
See the whole set of Alkahest in large format at the painter's website here

- I've borrowed a couple as samples:




What else.....

Well, Charles Dickens, in his novel Little Dorrit, has a character, Mrs General, who is prim in the extreme and a snob. She tells the Dorrit girls, after they and their family have been released from debtors' prison, and she attempts to give the girls some "polish" that:
“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips.”

As well as being (I guess) a kind of exercise to keep the lips of a young woman plump, and desirable, the inclusion of "prism" could be seen as indicating that, in polite society of the 19th century, to be "proper" a woman was not the source of her own light, but merely ornamental, reflecting the opinions of others rather than advancing her own.

Dickens' use of prunes and prisms was later picked up by other, female, writers: Louisa May Alcott refers to "prunes and prisms" in Little Women and other novels. Lucy Maud Montgomery uses "prunes and prisms" in the Anne of Green Gables books. The term became emblamatic of snootiness.


Finally, considering prisms, mustn't forget this: the illustration on the cover of Pink Floyd's famous album of the 1970s.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Future Seen from the Past: Visions of Orwell, Huxley & Zamyatin

Writers are throwing the name Orwell around more than usual just now. There's an example at HuffPo this week: Orwell 2013 by Jeff Danziger. I've mentioned and featured George Orwell in posts a few times over the years myself - best example, with some astrology and several interesting comments is from April 2011, titled simply George Orwell.

(Illustration, titled Visions Of The Future Seen From The Past was

Posted by Wastedpapiers at scrapiteria.)




I don't feel like re-reading 1984, only to depress myself further, but did pick up my copy the other day and re-read Erich Fromm's "Afterword", written in 1961. There's a full transcript of it online HERE.

Mr. Fromm remarked on the marked difference in tone between post-medieval writings, when optimism reigned: "With the breakup of the medieval world, man's sense of strength, and his hope, not only for individual but for social perfection", and writings after World War I when what's now categorised as "speculative fiction" took a turn into the decidedly negative, now known as dystopian. Fromm mentions, as examples of post-medieval writings Thomas Moore's Utopia, Campanella's City of the Sun, the German humanist Andreae's Christianopolis, and the latest of these Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, published in 1888. There are differences in approach but all have positive, utopian, flavours (a utopia: is a community or society possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities).

The visions of dytopia, arising post 1918 are best seen in three books mentioned by Fromm: Orwell's 1984, the Russian author Zamyatin's We, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Snip
This new trilogy of what may be called the "negative utopias" of the middle of the twentieth century is the counterpoint to the trilogy of the positive utopias mentioned before, written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The negative utopias express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self-confidence and hope of post-medieval man. There could be nothing more paradoxical in historical terms than this change: man, at the beginning of the industrial age, when in reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production -- nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it. It is the essential point of all the three negative utopias not only to describe the future toward which we are moving, but also to explain the historical paradox.

The three negative utopias differ from each other in detail and emphasis. Zamyatin's We, written in the twenties, has more features in common with 1984 than with Huxley's Brave New World. We and 1984 both depict the completely bureaucratized society, in which man is a number and loses all sense of individuality. This is brought about by a mixture of unlimited terror (in Zamyatin's book a brain operation is added eventually which changes man even physically) combined with ideological and psychological manipulation. In Huxley's work the main tool for turning man into an automaton is the application of hypnoid mass suggestion, which allows dispensing with terror. One can say that Zamyatin's and Orwell's examples resemble more the Stalinist and Nazi dictatorships, while Huxley's Brave New World is a picture of the development of the Western industrial world, provided it continues to follow the present trend without fundamental change..........................................


In spite of this difference there is one basic question common to the three negative utopias, The question is a philosophical, anthropological and psychological one, and perhaps also a religious one. It is: can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love -- that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one? It must be noted that the three authors do not take the simple position of psychological relativism which is common to so many social scientists today; they do not start out with the assumption that there is no such thing as human nature; that there is no such thing as qualities essential to man; and that man is born as nothing but a blank sheet of paper on which any given society writes its text. They do assume that man has an intense striving for love, for justice, for truth, for solidarity, and in this respect they are quite different from the relativists. In fact, they affirm the strength and intensity of these human strivings by the description of the very means they present as being necessary to destroy them. In Zamyatin's We a brain operation similar to lobotomy is necessary to get rid of the human demands of human nature. In Huxley's Brave New World artificial biological selection and drugs are necessary, and in Orwell's 1984 it is the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing. None of the three authors can be accused of the thought that the destruction of the humanity within man is easy. Yet all three arrive at the same conclusion: that it is possible, with means and techniques which are common knowledge today.

Whereas it's easy to see how, from where we are now in 2013, a dystopia similar to those envisioned by the authors above could quite easily emerge, in light of the last paragraph quoted, there may be hope still that the better parts of our human nature might prevail. These could be obliterated only by deliberate and concerted effort. Equally, though, it'd be only through determined and concerted effort, and constant watchfulness on a level we have not yet attained, that certainty of retaining the better parts of our humanity would prevail.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Silly Seasonal Snips


From the China Daily(!)
h/t Dependable Renegade





Silly flippin' season indeed.....a federal appeals court said Tuesday that an Oklahoma pastor can sue the state over its Indian "rain god" license plate, ruling that the depiction of a noted sculpture on 3 million license plates could be interpreted as a state endorsement of a religion. Oklahoma pastor sued a number of state officials in 2011, arguing that Oklahoma's standard license plate depicted Native American religious beliefs that run contrary to his Christianity. U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton dismissed the lawsuit in May 2012 but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it Tuesday. (Associated Press).

The sculpture represented on the car license plate is Sacred Rain Arrow by Allan Houser (1914-94):
"This monumental piece depicts a young Apache warrior shooting his arrow towards heaven with the hope of carrying a prayer for rain to the Spirit World. Houser represents the strength, dignity, beauty and spirituality of his people."
(HERE).










"How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it." --Edward Abbey


h/t DIVINE BREEZES

Thursday, June 13, 2013

USA's Roller-coaster: Over-reaction -- Apathy

I've stumbled across a couple of articles this week where the writer compares, unfavourably, the attitudes of most people in the USA immediately after 9/11 events, to the attitudes of the British during attacks on their country during World War 2. Y'all cannot possibly compare events and reactions to World War 2 with reactions to the event of 9/11 2001 for goodness sake!!

Now....while the idea has often occurred to me that the people of the USA, in general, over-react - tend towards a communal paranoia on several fronts, and display a definite tendency to hyperbole on all fronts, I'd never categorised this as anything resembling cowardice, as implied in the articles I read. Take Stephen Pizzo's piece at Smirking Chimp, for instance. In referring to The Patriot Act:
Be Ashamed, Americans

Snip:
Who gave them the right to do that? Well, we did. Yes we did.

In the flash, 9/11 turned cocky, self-satisfied Americans into a mob of scared school girls. We went screaming to "Daddy" demanding to be kept safe from "terrorists." Spare us the details, we said, and just get-et done, we demanded.

Stop for a moment and compare that response to how the Brits responded to years of terror weapons raining down on their cities during WW II.

"Starting on 7 September 1940, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, almost half of them in London. Ports and industrial centres outside London were also heavily attacked; the major Atlantic sea port of Liverpool was the most heavily bombed city outside London, suffering nearly 4,000 dead."

Americans had never felt such a blow. But, unlike the Brits who, rather than panic, stood up, strapped on a pair, and just kept on keeping on, we freaked out after 9/11. Three jets, a two buildings and 3000 dead, and we went to pieces.

Be ashamed, Americans. Be very ashamed. One attack, tiny by comparison, and our first response is to offer up our freedoms in return for protection.

And so came the Patriot Act; likely the most un-American piece of legislation ever passed by Congress and signed into law by an American president. It was slapped together by panicked government employees, passed by politicians who were far more terrified of their terrified constituents than they were of actual terrorists, and signed into law by the dumbest man ever to serve in the Oval Office.

We did that. Because we let them do that.

An English commenter (L. Harrison) agreed, and adds information about the devastation of the city of Plymouth during WW 2. I'm eligible to add my own views on this. I was born in Hull, a busy east coast port which also came in for blitzing by the Luftwaffe. We never knew from one morning to the next whether we'd still be around, or whether the house next door might be a pile of rubble, especially as we lived near a park with a large boating lake, which was often mistaken by German pilots for the docks, and they sometimes dropped their bombs not far from our doorstep. I was a very young child -just a baby at the start of it all, so have only fragmented memories, but do remember seeing the devastation downtown in the city centre, later on.

Reactions during a World War are something quite different from those following a single event coming out of the blue in peacetime (or what passes for peacetime). During wartime citizens become hardened to the possibility that death is just around the next corner, or will come during the next night. They learn to live with that, little by little. They have to - what else is there? People of the USA would be the same, I believe. 9/11 came out of the blue, a shock to the system, immediate reactions were understandable. What isn't understandable is that people have not demanded during ensuing years, that The Patriot Act be reviewed, rather than renewed. Apathy descended, complacency reigned and there lay the danger. The People can never, ever, afford to become complacent. Apathy isn't cowardice, but apathy of the masses has led to the situation in the USA - on several fronts.

It's as though initial hyperbolic over-reaction and paranoia moves on to dip to the other, more dangerous extreme: apathy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Should We Care? & Edward Snowden's Natal Chart

By the time I click on the publish button the current surveillance saga will probably have moved on to yet another chapter. I'm still not as invested in the whole public outcry as most, mainly because we should have realised it was going on, and had been ever since 2001 - maybe even before that to the extent that technology then available could cope. A trawl through the nets to see whether I'm missing something crucial that'd kick my reactions up a notch or two followed.

Thinks: terrorism, though it poses a clear threat, doesn't pose such a huge threat to the USA as to warrant the allocation of billions of dollars to surveillance programs said to be the best way to circumvent such threats, when such programs involve wholesale invasion of telephone and internet communications of hundreds of millions of individuals - a mind-boggling volume, daily. In effect, though, chances of anyone's e-mail or phone call to friends and family being intercepted has to be tiny indeed, or even chances of defining the patterns of any individual's habits of communication, come to that - or so I assume. But the expense of all this to the country, when not in the most robust of financial health - there's that!

The item I found with a possibility of getting me engaged more in this issue was a comment at a blog called Lawyers Guns and Money, where a post by Erik Loomis asking why people were getting so much up in arms about this issue and not about several other important matters facing us. A commenter "Yankee Frank", responded well, I thought, and I trust he would not object to my spreading his words here:
The only reason people don’t care much is that they don’t really understand the import of this. Once the government can examine everything (pretty much) about someone’s past, that person is no longer free. If the government wants to, they can doctor up anything about you they want — to prove you are “evil”, or mentally ill, or a liar… and once they can do that to anyone they have total control over us. They can retroactively examine anyone’s life and find whatever “evidence” they want of anything they want to charge you with.

Why do you think criminal lawyers tell their clients never to speak to the police without their lawyer present? Even if you tell 100% truth and are innocent they can turn your words against you. All they need is a “witness” who saw you somewhere you (or your decades of internet history) claim you weren’t and they have you as a liar, and if you’re lying about an alibi, well then you are very likely guilty. They don’t even have to fabricate the witness. People want to help the police, and they “see” things they didn’t see all the time. This scenario plays out regularly in this and other ways. Hence lawyers tell you to say nothing to the police. These records mean you’ve been talking to the police since 2006, and they can catch you in any number of “lies” to weaken your credibility. People get life sentences for things they didn’t do based on evidence just like this.

Once you are a suspect, that is the beginning of the end of your freedom. The fact that we are all under threat of becoming suspects based on something we said or wrote 15 years ago, or whenever, because the NSA has all our history, means we are all constantly under threat of suspicion. This is what totalitarianism looks like.

The reason this is more important than income inequality and unemployment, and I think those things are hugely important, almost as important as this… is because this freedom underlies all the others. WIthout the freedom to speak out without the government being able to silence you and/or destroy your life, forget protest. Forget fighting for the unemployed, and forget arguing against any government activity period. We will live in a world where 99% of us are too terrified to even raise our voices, let alone dissent.

These things are only abstract because most of us just don’t understand how the state works when it goes after you. Hopefully I have shed some light on this.

I don't think we're quite at that stage of a totalitarian-like state quite yet, but an atmosphere where such things could become a daily worry may not be that far over the horizon.

Something upon which to chew, indigestible as it may be!

There's a good run-down of the situation in this video interview : Jake Tapper and Glenn Greenwald on CNN (around 14 mins)




For any passing astrology buffs, here's a natal chart (12 noon version) for Edward Snowden constructed using birth data given by Wikipedia - "The army did confirm Snowden's date of birth: June 21, 1983." Place of birth stated is Elizabeth City, but that's not an option on my software so I've used the nearest place available. (Update: see comments below for exact time of birth and a link to updated chart on site elsewhere- Gemini was rising by the way).

Snowden has lots of Air in his chart, unlike Greenwald : 3 Gemini planets and 2 in Libra. 3 in Sagittarius (Fire), with Uranus conjunct Jupiter - I'd bet on that conjunction as his "daring" trade mark. Natal Moon will be in Scorpio whatever his time of birth - between around 10 and 23 degrees. Whichever, transiting Saturn is heading that way, indicating some kind of restriction or limitation in his future. It's actually already happening, so his time of birth was likely to be earlier in the day rather than later, I think.

Pluto conjunct Saturn in Libra form an harmonious trine to his Sun and Mars in Gemini, blending a passionate, almost obsessive draw to legal matters (in this case Constitutionality?)with his naturally energetic and communicative core personality.

"Star" and key element of his chart, in the circumstances, for me has to be Uranus conjunct Jupiter.




Monday, June 10, 2013

Glenn Greenwald & Astrological Links to Current Events

Glenn Greenwald is the journalist who revealed (or perhaps more accurately re-revealed) details of NSA surveillance practices, the PRISM program, and other tid-bits of leaked information last week. He said on Sunday that there is yet more to come. It's getting hard to keep up! He now, probably wisely, is a resident of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Did I say "hard to keep up"? I'd barely finished drafting this post yesterday, before discovering that the identity of the person who leaked information to Mr Greenwald had been revealed: Edward Snowden, a 29-year old former CIA technical assistant and current (?) employee of Booz Allen Hamilton. Mr Snowden is reported to be in Hong Kong at present. Relevant Guardian article.


There ought to be astrological red flags of some kind showing in Glenn Greenwald's natal chart just now, being the agent, if not the source, of these revelations. I couldn't find anything on his chart online, so had my software do its thing on a 12 noon version with his birth data as provided by Wikipedia:
born 6 March 1967 in Queens, New York.



Without time of birth we cannot know exact position of Moon and the ascending sign and degree. Born before 10PM Moon would be in late Capricorn, between 10 PM and midnight in early Aquarius.

I'm not trying to interpret Mr Greenwald's personality here, simply looking for any indication that this particular span of time we're in has significant markers via transiting planets conjoining, or aspecting, any of his natal planets.

Transiting Uranus (eccentric planet of the unexpected) now at 11 Aries is just two degrees from his natal Venus -that has to be significant. Such a conjunction will happen usually just once in a lifetime, as Uranus takes around 84 years to circle the signs.

Transiting Saturn (planet of structure, law and limitation) is conjunct natal Mars in Scorpio - that could be a warning sign for the journalist perhaps?

Transiting Neptune (planet of illusion/delusion, mystery) is close enough (5*) to natal Mercury in Pisces to be considered conjoined - Mercury is planet of communication, and as Greenwald's profession is in communication, that has to be especially significant.

Even more significantly though, there's a trine between Neptune and Saturn currently formed, almost exact, in the sky (at 5 degrees of Pisces and Scorpio respectively). That aspect is linking to Greenwald's natal Mars at 3 Scorpio. This trine is fairly rare, and long-lasting due to the slow movement of both planets: Saturn's orbit of the Sun takes around 29 years, and Neptune around 165 years. A trine between these two planets last occurred in 2001/2, but then the planets were in Air signs, Aquarius and Gemini, now they are in Water signs. Oddly, Air signs would seem a better match to what we're seeing just now, based on journalism and communication, which are more in the province of Air than Water. However, unless Moon and/or ascendant were in Air sign(s) at his birth, Glenn Greenwald has no natal planet/point in Air, which has to be quite unusual for a journalist or writer, I suspect. In astrology the element of Water relates, in one way or another, to emotional matters, in the case of Scorpio there's an added element of secrecy and some potential darkness. This trine, tickling Greenwald's natal Mars in Scorpio where Mars is comfortably at home, dynamic, unadulterated, could almost represent a personal vendetta being triggered....though I'm not convinced that's the case.

There are definite markers here, but I haven't untangled them to my own satisfaction quite - any offers? .... The story isn't over yet either!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Magical Illusion

Magic: I'm always intrigued when things fall synchronistically together for me. Three things related loosely or directly to "magic" did so this week.

First, a rather loopy contestant on the opening show of this season's America's Got Talent caused jaws to drop, even that of former Spice Girl, Scary Spice - Mel B, who has joined the panel of judges this year. The contestant, who calls himself Special Head, showed us what levitation looks like. Had to be an illusion or trick, of course, a real practitioner of this kind of "magick", a yogi, shaman or whatever, would not be cavorting on America's Got Talent.
Still it was fun to watch:




Fun to watch, too, was the movie we saw this week at the cinema Now You See Me - all about four professional magicians/illusionists and the mysterious person who gathered them together so's they'd become a peculiarly named (in the circumstances) foursome: The Four Horsemen. They proceeded to carry out some latter-day Robin Hood-type magical capers in Las Vegas, New Orleans and New York. During their shows beaucoup $$$$$$$$$$$ of certain other individuals or bodies, for reasons which do not become apparent until the last scenes, are re-distributed. There are hints thrown in of an ancient Egyptian connection to magic, which I'm not sure were fictional or actual.

The movie offers an entertaining couple of hours, as long as viewers don't think too deeply or care too much about logic. Treated as pure fun it's a good night at the flicks. The film will attract all age groups, unlike many on offer just now. Its cast list has some young bloods: Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco; some mid-lifers : Woody Harrelson and Mark Ruffalo; and older actors: Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Female interest, which I feel could have been better represented with stronger actresses and better chemistry with the guys: Isla Fisher and Melanie Laurent. I think the producers spent all available casting cash on CGI and the guys - a pity.

Trailer:



Third reference to magic - or illusion - came quite unexpectedly when we got home from the cinema. We decided to listen to some music for what remained of the evening. I did my usual, random, blind selection from husband's shelves of CDs and came up with Days of Future Passed, The Moody Blues. Blast from the past, and not the husband's usual fare by any means. Nice CD artwork though, with zodiac signs and moon phases included. We chose track 7 from this "concept" CD: THE NIGHT - Nights in White Satin (Justin Hayward). Now....I know the song very well, always enjoyed it when played on radio in the UK, but I had never heard this particular track before, the extended version with a narrated poem at the end of it. The last lines of the narration were what made me catch my breath for a moment:

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
And
Which is an Illusion


Narration begins around the 5.50 point:




Full narration transcript:

Breath deep
The gathering gloom
Watch lights fade
From every room
Bedsitter people
Look back and lament
Another day's useless
Energy spent

Impassioned lovers
Wrestle as one
Lonely man cries for love
And has none
New mother picks up
And suckles her son
Senior citizens
Wish they were young

Cold hearted orb
That rules the night
Removes the colours
From our sight
Red is gray and
Yellow white
But we decide
Which is right
And
Which is an Illusion



For the astrologically-inclined : I just noticed that transiting Neptune is minutes away from my natal Jupiter in Pisces.
Neptune is known as planet of illusion (and magic too, I guess) - perhaps that transit is alerting me to see the synchronicity in such things ?

PS:
Other magic/illusion related posts from the archives:
Two Minds
Wednesday Woo-woo: Magick