Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bram Stoker & Dracula for Fright Night

Hallowe'en! There'll be lots of youthful Dracula types abroad tonight, looking for treats or tricks. This is a good time to take a look at Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and other stories touching on the weird and the occult.

Wouldn't you have guessed that he was born with both Sun and Moon quite close together in....Scorpio? 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, near Dublin, Ireland. His time of birth isn't known, but the Moon would have been in Scorpio whatever the time, and quite likely not far from his natal Sun.

Mercury, the writing planet in Sagittarius, in helpful trine to Uranus, planet of the eccentric, unexpected and futuristic can clearly be seen coloring his weird and wonderful tales, blending with Scorpio's sinister darkness. Jupiter, planet of publication and exaggeration forms another helpful trine, this time to to his Sun (and maybe to Moon), reflecting the spread of Bram Stoker's stories both before and after his own death.



In the south-west Oklahoma town where we live, Bram Stoker was remembered a couple of years ago a in this Hallowe'en display in someone's front yard.




Inspiration for Stoker's famous Gothic novel Dracula came from a visit to Whitby - I know it well, or used to. It's a town on the north-east coast of England, not too far from my own old hometown.



(Whitby)" is an ancient village first settled in the 5th or 6th century AD. In 637 AD a Catholic abbey was built nearby.... In 1077, the abbey was rebuilt in the foreboding gothic style of the medieval time. Now, the abbey ruins (see above) brood on the outskirts of Whitby. The commanding presence of towering stone façades pierced with sightless arches can cast the eerie shadow of folklore on even the most unimaginative mind.

It was into this harbor of history and myth that Bram Stoker sailed in 1890. He had been working on a novel inspired by Hungarian adventurer Arminius Vambery who had regaled Stoker with eastern European tales of the blood-hungry living dead. Whitby proved to be the perfect setting for Stoker to derive some of the more intriguing details for his book. He was so impressed by the surrealistic, menacing aspects of the immense stone abbey and St Mary’s Cathedral looming over the small town, that he used Whitby in his novel Dracula as the place where the seductive Count meets and kills Lucy.


While in Whitby, Stoker stayed at a small inn on the river. Every evening at dusk the local pigeons would sit on the window ledge and tap mindlessly at their reflections in the glass. Stoker incorporated this sound into his novel as Dracula tapping with long, sharp nails on Lucy’s window, demanding entrance. The bats residing in the stable behind the inn lent another aspect to Stoker’s main character: his ability to shape-shift into not only bats, but also black dogs and mist. (Right: Christopher Lee as Dracula)..............................
Stoker visited Whitby several more times over the next few years. The novel Dracula was completed and published in 1897 to little acclaim. The book did not become widely popular until Hollywood began filming versions of the work in the early 1900s, a few years after Stoker’s death in 1912.
(Read the rest HERE)


A postscript for astrology buffs: in another of Stoker's books, "The Jewel of Seven Stars", at chaper XVI, Powers - Old and New, one of his characters has something to say about astrology:
".........Once, in the midst of a most learned dissertation on the growth of Egyptian Astrology, he broke put on a different subject, or rather a branch or corollary of the same:
'I do not see why starlight may not have some subtle quality of its own! We know that other lights have special forces. The Rontgen Ray is not the only discovery to be made in the world of light. Sunlight has its own forces, that are not given to other lights. It warms wine; it quickens fungoid growth. Men are often moonstruck. Why not, then, a more subtle, if less active or powerful, force in the light of the stars. It should be a pure light coming through such vastness of space, and may have a quality which a pure, unimpulsive force may have. The time may not be far off when Astrology shall be accepted on a scientific basis. In the recrudescence of the art, many new experiences will be brought to bear; many new phases of old wisdom will appear in the light of fresh discovery, and afford bases for new reasoning. Men may find that what seemed empiric deductions were in reality the results of a loftier intelligence and a learning greater than our own. We know already that the whole of the living world is full of microbes of varying powers and of methods of working quite antagonistic. We do not know yet whether they can lie latent until quickened by some ray of light as yet unidentified as a separate and peculiar force. As yet we know nothing of what goes to create or evoke the active spark of life. We have no knowledge of the methods of conception; of the laws which govern molecular or foetal growth, of the final influences which attend birth. Year by year, day by day, hour by hour, we are learning; but the end is far, far off. It seems to me that we are now in that stage of intellectual progress in which the rough machinery for making discovery is being invented. Later on, we shall have enough of first principles to help us in the development of equipment for the true study of the inwardness of things."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Word Magic

I needed to retire to a spare room, far from my computer, while a couple of guys steam-cleaned the living room carpet on Monday morning. I took with me a couple of slim, tatty old paperback books which had been sitting on a shelf beneath my computer for years: The Ordeal of Change and The True Believer, both by Eric Hoffer, both originally published in the mid-20th century.


As I read the following my mind slid back to other words read recently, words of Chris Hedges, words of Russell Brand - two very different sources featured in posts in the past couple of weeks. Words to stir the blood, to energise the mind, to encourage thought, to reassure that there are others out there who feel as we do..... There is magic in words.

Mr. Hoffer suggested:
Nothing so baffles the scientific approach to human nature as the vital role words play in human affairs. How can one deal with a physiochemical complex in which reactions are started and checked, accelerated and slowed down, by the sound or image of a word - usually a meaningless word?

It is of interest that the practice of magic where nature is concerned - the attempt to manipulate nature by words - rested on the assumption that nature is not unlike human nature, that methods of proven effectiveness in the manipulation of human affairs may be equally potent when applied to nonhuman nature. It can be seen that such an assumption is the mirror image of, and not infinitely more absurd than, the assumption implied in the scientific approach that human nature is merely an aspect of nature.

We know that words cannot move mountains, but they can move the multitude; and men are more ready to fight and die for a word than for anything else...................Words and magic are particularly crucial in time of crisis when old forms of life are in dissolution and man must grapple with the unknown. .............A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of action.

― Eric Hoffer, The Ordeal of Change

Words: "abracadabra", "ooo-eee-oo-ah-ah-ting-tang-walla-walla-bing-bang" - two silly examples of magic words, the first from stage conjurors' playbooks, the other from an old pop song The Witch Doctor. They are throw-backs to an ancient belief that words and/or sound could indeed bring about change, drastic change even.

Words put together with talent and skill can sway human nature, for good or ill....(hmm a rhyme!) Full effects of words only become visible when the time is right though. More wise words from Eric Hoffer, this time from The True Believer - Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements:
"For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and the potentialities of the future. Finally, they must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap."
Words, for now, are all we have.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mercury Retrograde Tales

Mercury Retrograde time has come around again. Two coincidences to report. I'll call them coincidences, astrologers might call them examples of the kind of techno-hiccups that are said to be common when Mercury is (apparently) moving in retrograde motion. It isn't really, just looks that way from where we stand.


First coincidence began just before the retrograde period, when we were away from home recently. Listening to an audio book on the car's CD player: Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts, something I'd picked up long ago in a junk store for use on a long trip. We were enjoying Lou Diamond Phillips' entertaining narration. When I reached to insert the next CD, felt a slight, unusual resistance. I exerted a little gentle force (big mistake). With CD inside the whole thing jammed up. Later efforts to retrieve the disc failed. We had to make do with a set of indifferent radio stations for the rest of the trip. Back home, after a week or so, husband took the car to our Chevvy dealer who gave him the sad news that, unless the disc could be released with "a good ol' bang" (it couldn't), the only solution would be a new unit.....upwards of $300. That news served to fire up the husband! When he got the car home he found a suitable slim tool and, with surgical precision, felt around the CD slot opening, lifted and teased until the disc re-appeared. Wondrously, when other discs were tried, the player still worked. The imprisoned CD must have been a rogue disc then - looked fine though, and did play well on our separate CD player. There's nothing like the threat of a bill for $300+ to get things moving! That story began before Mercury Retro, and ended more or less just as apparent Mercurial back-tracking had begun.

Second coincidence: Three or four nights ago our VCR (or is it VHS? ) machine simply stopped working. After attempting a clean-up job and various twiddles and tweaks, nothing improved. It has given good service for more than 8 years, perhaps it has simply worn out. We decided to visit local and neighbouring junk, thrift and pawn stores to find a replacement; we both recalled having seen piles of 'em waiting for buyers in the past. Not so now. We could find narry a one. A Goodwill store had one machine working, but marked "Not for Sale". Although there are mountains of VHS tapes of movies and concerts still around at bargain prices, that which is needed to play the tapes has gone the way of dinosaurs. E-bay does dinosaurs. I found one there - one with no bids and 20 minutes to go before the auction closed. I bid, 1 cent more than the given bottom rung, and won. So we wait, and hope that Mercury Retro will not impede delivery, or receipt of said machine in good, working condition.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

RUSSELL BRAND ~ "he's a darling, he's a demon, he's a lamb"

When I read him I'm confused
Out of focus and bemused
And I never know exactly where I am
Unpredictable as weather
He's as flighty as a feather
He's a darling! He's a demon! He's a lamb!

He'd outpester any pest
Drive a hornet from its nest
He could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl
He is gentle! He is wild!
He's a riddle! He's a child!
He's a headache! He's an angel!
He's............... Russell Brand


As I read the New Statesman piece, carried at Common Dreams on Friday, written by British actor/comedian Russell Brand the words of a song from "The Sound of Music" kept floating into my head. I've parodied them above, with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein II .

It's a l-o-n-g piece for ADD-afflicted internet inhabitants, but it's one I couldn't stop reading halfway, as I do so many others. Brand's piece at Common Dreams is headed: "Before We Change the World, We Need to Change the Way We Think.......On revolution: 'We no longer have the luxury of tradition'".

Before I go any further, I'm leaving a link to an antidote for any hint of Brandish hero-worship a passing reader might detect: Douglas Valentine's piece at Counterpunch is a knock-down, drag-out put-down of Russell. I don't agree with Mr Valentine, though do admit that there's an occasional whisper of sense in what he writes as, I feel pretty sure (and this is important) that Russell Brand would too.

Russell Brand: the guy is Gemini incarnate....really! The Trickster, brilliantly fluent, ridiculously talented, flawed mouth-on-a stick. But make no mistake, in this piece Brand is making more sense than any dozen of mealy mouthed pundits you'd care to bundle together. And he's funny with it....that is very hard to do for most of us struggling non-Gemini mortals. Several commenters have described his piece as "stream of consciousness stuff". I've never been reliably sure what "stream of consciousness" looks like until now!

I've chosen a few quotes from the piece to share its flavour, and to spice up this post. It was hard to choose, there are so many quotable chunks. I highly recommend reading the article in full. Sometimes the piece relates to British political figures, but mostly his remarks apply to the USA also, and the rest of the world for that matter.

To give some idea of the subject matter, some random paragraphs - not always chronological:

The serious side:
First, he excuses his wealth:
I should qualify my right to even pontificate on such a topic and in so doing untangle another of revolution’s inherent problems. Hypocrisy. How dare I, from my velvet chaise longue, in my Hollywood home like Kubla Khan, drag my limbs from my harem to moan about the system? A system that has posited me on a lilo made of thighs in an ocean filled with honey and foie gras’d my Essex arse with undue praise and money..............

.......The right has all the advantages, just as the devil has all the best tunes. Conservatism appeals to our selfishness and fear, our desire and self-interest; they neatly nurture and then harvest the inherent and incubating individualism.

I imagine that neurologically the pathway travelled by a fearful or selfish impulse is more expedient and well travelled than the route of the altruistic pang. In simple terms of circuitry I suspect it is easier to connect these selfish inclinations.

These problems that threaten to bring on global destruction are the result of legitimate human instincts gone awry, exploited by a dead ideology derived from dead desert myths. Fear and desire are the twin engines of human survival but with most of our basic needs met these instincts are being engaged to imprison us in an obsolete fragment of our consciousness. Our materialistic consumer culture relentlessly stimulates our desire. Our media ceaselessly engages our fear, our government triangulates and administrates, ensuring there are no obstacles to the agendas of these slow-thighed beasts, slouching towards Bethlehem.


(After a visit to African slums, seeing emaciated children there, and on return home attending a fashion show with stick thin models who deliberately starve themselves):

...I could not wrench the phantom of those children from my mind......I felt the integration; that the price of this decadence was their degradation. That these are not dislocated ideas but the two extremes are absolutely interdependent. The price of privilege is poverty. .....To have such suffering adjacent to such excess is akin to marvelling at an incomparable beauty, whose face is the radiant epitome of celestial symmetry, and ignoring, half a yard lower down, her abdomen, cancerous, weeping and carbuncled. “Keep looking at the face, put a handbag over those tumours. Strike a pose. Come on, Vogue.”

Suffering of this magnitude affects us all. We have become prisoners of comfort in the absence of meaning.

The "spiritual" side:
For me the solution has to be primarily spiritual and secondarily political. This, too, is difficult terrain when the natural tribal leaders of the left are atheists, when Marxism is inveterately Godless. When the lumbering monotheistic faiths have given us millennia of grief for a handful of prayers and some sparkly rituals.

The only systems we can afford to employ are those that rationally serve the planet first, then all humanity. Not out of some woolly, bullshit tree-hugging piffle but because we live on it, currently without alternatives. This is why I believe we need a unifying and in - clusive spiritual ideology: atheism and materialism atomise us and anchor us to one frequency of consciousness and inhibit necessary co-operation.

In 2013 (another made-up imaginary concept) we cannot afford to giggle, drivel and burp like giant, pube-covered babies about quaint, old-fashioned notions like nation, capitalism and consumerism simply because it’s convenient for the tiny, greedy, myopic sliver of the population that those outmoded ideas serve...........

We British seem to be a bit embarrassed about revolution, like the passion is uncouth or that some tea might get spilled on our cuffs in the uprising. That revolution is a bit French or worse still American. Well, the alternative is extinction so now might be a good time to re-evaluate. The apathy is in fact a transmission problem, when we are given the correct information in an engaging fashion, we will stir.


Now there is an opportunity for the left to return to its vital, virile, vigorous origins. A movement for the people, by the people, in the service of the land. Socialism’s historical connection with spiritual principles is deep. Sharing is a spiritual principle, respecting our land is a spiritual principle. May the first, May Day, is a pagan holiday where we acknowledge our essential relationship with our land. I bet the Tolpuddle martyrs, who marched for fair pay for agricultural workers, whose legacy is the right for us to have social solidarity, were a right bunch of herberts if you knew them. “Thugs, yobs, hooligans,” the Daily Mail would’ve called them. Our young people need to know there is a culture, a strong, broad union, that they can belong to, that is potent, virile and alive.

(My highlight)
But we are far from apathetic, we are far from impotent. I take great courage from the groaning effort required to keep us down, the institutions that have to be fastidiously kept in place to maintain this duplicitous order. Propaganda, police, media, lies. Now is the time to continue the great legacy of the left, in harmony with its implicit spiritual principles. Time may only be a human concept and therefore ultimately unreal, but what is irrefutably real is that this is the time for us to wake up.

The revolution of consciousness is a decision, decisions take a moment. In my mind the revolution has already begun.

If I believed in spiritualism I'd suspect that the spirit of comedian Bill Hicks, who left us much, much too soon, had been in contact with Russell Brand....or maybe Bill Hicks and George Carlin got together in the ethers and decided enough was enough, something simply had to be done, a new messenger had to be appointed.


ASTROLOGY




I made a point of describing Russell Brand as "Trickster" at the beginning of the post; astrologically he is. Sun and Mercury in Gemini. I've posted a 12 noon version of his natal chart, no time of birth is known. I'll link, at the end of the post, to two websites where interpretation has already been done. For me, other than his "mouth-on-a-stick" Sun and Mercury in Gemini, I'd focus on the three planets in Aries, (Moon would have been in Aries, whatever time he was born), and on the fact that he's "unearthed" - no planet in an Earth sign unless an Earth sign (Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn) was on the ascendant as he was born....chances of that, I'd say, are slim!

The three Aries planets bring a fresh child-like streak into his nature, enthusiasm for his subject, whether nefarious, sexy, or serious. I like the freshness and a rather strangely innocent feel to him- don't know how else to describe it, but have recognised it in those with Aries strong in their natal charts - a lot, love it! That's not to say he's always all that's wonderful. He's not - far from it. I was disgusted by reports of a mean prank he'd played on a fellow-actor some time ago. Aries childlike-ness can, and does, go right over-the top at times. Because of his writing though, he's forgiven - not forgetting the interview in the video below, from British TV. Interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, well known in the UK for his penetrating interview style when dealing with politicians, took on Russell Brand. I suspect Jeremy has a warm spot for Russell and his views, though it didn't seem so at times.


For more on Brand's astrology:
See Adam Sommer's article at Reality Sandwich
and
My Encounter with Russell Brand  by British psychic Michelle Knight.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

GM Foods, Monsanto, Corporations - Oh My!

Two blog friends and regular commenters have given me a heads up on issues involving GMO - genetically modified organisms - in the food chain: GM crops. I've been aware of, but not especially motivated to write about the topic before now. I realised that GM foods form simply another tentacle of unfettered corporatism, this tentacle has Monsanto at its heart. I prefer to criticise and rant about corporatism, the oligarchy and capitalism as a whole, rather than focus on any of the many separate tentacles of this fatal disease. Perhaps I've been too blasé in this case, so have done some research.


It has to be kept in mind that while corporate conduct - Monsanto's conduct in particular - has been, and continues to be despicable, as most corporate conduct is, that is not the whole story.

However unwelcome genetic modification of crops may be to people in the USA and Europe, all relatively privileged people, there are hungry people elsewhere, starving people....there are some here in the US too. If elements of Monsanto's high-handed objectionable work can provide any relief for starving humanity somewhere on the planet, it'd be wrong to dismiss their efforts outright. Millions of starving people will increase, in time, to billions struggling to survive. If Monsanto would concentrate their efforts towards staving off just that eventuality, more people might be prepared to support them.

All genetic engineering isn't bad. Modifications can change plants and animals in a number of ways: modified corn produced to resist a certain weed killer is not the same as rice reprogrammed to contain more vitamin A. Two sides of the coin: beneficial/risky.

The fact that GM crops have been engineered to withstand high application rates of toxic chemicals is an attendant problem, as well as the fact that any new gene used to make fruit ripen more quickly would be likely to reduce its nutrient value....and flavour.

Most GM crops require, or allow, more pesticides and herbicides to survive, and so embed themselves in food; some of it washes off to pollute groundwater and streams, then kills off fish, affecting birds, killing insects the birds eat, and so on. Many GM crops produce sterile seeds, robbing farmers of opportunities to renew their crops as farmers have done for centuries, forcing them to buy a new store of seeds. Follow the money -again!

A current concern in the USA is that foods containing GM ingredients should be clearly labelled as such. That's a reasonable step to take, but whether it would make enough difference to cause Monsanto to change its ways is another matter.

Once again, it's balance that is missing. If corporations were better regulated Monsanto's activities and results of same, would be subject to closer scrutiny and limitation. I feel that it's more important to put stronger focus at the core of the wrong: the corporations and unfettered capitalism.

There are numerous photographs of protesters from US and Europe marching against Monsanto and GM foods - an example shown earlier in this post. Numerous photographs of marchers against fracking, Keystone XL oil pipeline, and other tentacles of unfettered corporation disease are also online. If all those protesters were to combine their strength, along with those who support The Green Party, Justice Party, socialists, anti-war and other left wing groups, there might be an outside chance of making a lasting and more powerful impression....and at the at the very least of waking more sleepers to join them. They are few, we are many. ...or would be if we would all wake up and work TOGETHER instead of splintering into diverse groups!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Arty Farty Friday ~ Fred Marcellino

Fred Marcellino, abstract impressionist painter, illustrator/designer of album and book cover art, children's book illustrator and and writer, was born this day, 25 October in 1939 in Brooklyn, New York; died in 2001 - far too soon, aged 61.

He changed the way book covers and jackets for contemporary fiction are designed.

From Obituary here

"In the 1970's Mr. Marcellino, a classically trained painter and recipient of a 1963 Fulbright scholarship, challenged the strict marketing conventions for packaging fiction and nonfiction blockbusters, which then required gigantic type for the author's name and a small, literal illustration of the plot or theme. Although these covers grabbed attention, they usually offered little aesthetic value.

Mr. Marcellino introduced subtly painted and smartly lettered miniposters, creating an alluring graphic personality for best-selling novels by writers like Tom Wolfe, Anne Tyler, Milan Kundera, Judith Rossner and Margaret Atwood. He proved that an elegant jacket could be as effective a marketing tool as a garish one.

Mr. Marcellino could "in one image, translate the whole feeling and style of a book,'' said Nan Talese, who was the editor of Judith Rossner's ''August'' and Margaret Atwood's ''Handmaid's Tale'' for Houghton Mifflin."

A few examples of his book cover illustrations:







Some of his children's book covers and illustrations:




A quick look at Mr Marcellino's natal chart, set for 12 noon as no birth time is available.

Five, maybe six depending on Moon's position (which isn't known precisely without a time of birth)
are in Mars-ruled signs: Scorpio and Aries. This indicates an energetic, enthusiastic and passionate nature, a blend of impatience, impetuosity and an urge to dig deep into issues. The only personal planet outside of the Mars-ruled group is Mars itself in Aquarius.

Outer planets were in Taurus, Leo and Virgo.

Uranus (planet of the avant garde) in Taurus lay opposite Venus and Mercury in Scorpio. Venus being planet of arts, Taurus its ruler. Hmmm. I think that here was a need to bring something new (Uranus) to "tried and true" style (Taurus), via design (Venus). Exactly what this artist did for book covers.

Fred Marcellino's official website.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

9 -UP

Today/tomorrow marks the 9th anniversary of my journey and setting foot, to remain permanently, on American soil. Coincidentally, while searching on a Brtish-Ex-Pats' forum for information on the wisdom or otherwise of renewing a British Passport, I spotted a thread titled "YOU KNOW YOU'VE BEEN IN THE USA TOO LONG WHEN......"
That thread stretches over nearly 100 pages, occasionally descending into ribaldry as Brits, thrown together, are wont do. I've picked out a round dozen fairly inoffensive examples of ideas put forward, in honour of my US anniversary.


YOU KNOW YOU'VE BEEN IN THE USA TOO LONG......

If you start buying into this 'freedom' crap

When British Tories look quite sensible

If you believe USA is the 'leader of the free world' and the only place with rags-to-riches stories

When you start to fantasise about what you could do to get deported....(or start spelling fantasise as fantasize)

When your first thought on being approached by a police officer is "don't do anything to startle him and make him shoot you"

When you see nothing wrong with the fact a lot of police officers are too fat to get out of their cruisers, let alone chase down a suspect. Luckily they can just shoot first and ask questions after. Not having a problem with this is also a sign you've been here too long

When you stop trying to convert $ to £ every time you buy something

When your fork lives in your RIGHT hand (left hand for lefties!)

When you start eating that Kosher Dill spear they serve with a sandwich, something you originally thought was repulsive

When you think taking home over half your dinner in a to-go box is perfectly normal

If you start saying "different than ..." instead of "different from ..."
(PS: on this one: not me - not ever!)

If you drive a Suburban and have a concealed weapons permit (PS: ditto).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CORY BOOKER

5 years ago, in November 2008, I wrote a post about Cory Booker, then Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. See: Drive-by Astrology: Cory Booker


I was impressed by him then, and very happy to see that he has now become a US Senator, succeeding Frank Lautenberg who died in office. He will have to stand again in 2014 to establish his place in the senate, I understand.

In the years since 2008

He has gained a national reputation for his personal involvement in public service, including going on a ten-day hunger strike outdoors to draw attention to the dangers of open-air drug dealing, living on a "food stamp" budget to raise awareness of food insecurity, shoveling the driveway of a constituent upon request, allowing Hurricane Sandy victims into his home, helping a constituent propose to his girlfriend, rescuing a dog from freezing temperatures, saving a woman from a house fire at his own risk and rescuing a dog that had been locked in a crate. He is an avid Twitter user and played collegiate football at Stanford. (More at Wikipedia)
I hope that life in the Senate will not change Booker, that he will not be infected by what appears to be a spreading disease of uselessness among congressional Democrats, or be co-opted by monied interests. I can hope, but do not feel optimistic. We shall see.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Revolting?

Chris Hedges' latest piece, Let’s Get This Class War Started is excellent, I thought. I found it less depressing than most of his writings, though in fact, the subject matter ought to depress. It's one of my own hobby horses he's writing about this time - class. Maybe that's why I can relate easily, am so used to the feelings class war can bring about that I no longer find them depressing. I must have antipathy to oligarchs, ruling classes, "the gentry" buried deep in my genes. My ancestors, or most of them, in England would have been under the boot of wealthy land owners and the aristocracy for centuries, they knew no other way of life. Maybe I feel these feelings more deeply than most in the USA, apart from African Americans that is. I'm angry on their behalf too, and on behalf all peasants and serfs who have struggled throughout the ages. Enough!!

What can be done to bring about change in the USA in 2013 and onward is not easy to see though. Online petitions, tweets, Facebook entries and blogging isn't going to cut it. Boycotts of corporations and their output could help if enough people joined in the effort; a re-birth of Occupy Wall Street, or a new movement along similar lines, better and more tightly organised and led would be a big step forward.

Chris Hedges says it's time for pitchforks (metaphorically, I guess). Prodding a few still sleeping citizens with the sharp ends of those pitchforks would be a start.

Some snips from his article at Common Dreams (also at Truthdig).
The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth...........


Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx all began from the premise there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the masses. “Those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to submit to authority,” Aristotle wrote in “Politics.” “The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of obedience.” Oligarchs, these philosophers knew, are schooled in the mechanisms of manipulation, subtle and overt repression and exploitation to protect their wealth and power at our expense. Foremost among their mechanisms of control is the control of ideas. Ruling elites ensure that the established intellectual class is subservient to an ideology—in this case free market capitalism and globalization—that justifies their greed. “The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships,” Marx wrote, “the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”...........


The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes, according to Aristotle. The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny to keep the masses forcibly enslaved. We have chosen the second of Aristotle’s options. The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning us—as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories—into disposable human beings. They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history to keep us submissive........

The piece ends:

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.


In another piece at Common Dreams yesterday, by staff writer Jon Queally, a current concern, not unconnected with class war is referenced:
Absent Progressive Uproar, Social Security and Medicare Face Axe.

I feel sure that commenter to the article, John Tredrea, would not object to my copying his very good, and eloquently put, observation here:

What happens in a democracy when the political process is dominated by two political parties entrenched in contributions from a small but powerful oligarchy and when neither party is responsive to the expressed will of the electorate?

What happens when elections no longer provide for "redress of grievances" no matter how clearly and loudly the electorate cries out for responsive legislation?

What happens when the party that professes to be on the side of the electoral majority routinely promises reforms and then betrays its promises without the slightest degree of honesty or remorse?

What happens when the "free press", established by the Founding Fathers as a check on political corruption and abuse sells its soul to wealth, power, and oligarchy?

This is not the country that I was born in and it is not the country that I grew up in and it is not the country that I expected to one day die in.

God Bless America?

God Forgive America.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Astrology in Movies and Novels

I enjoy collecting examples of astrology appearing in movie dialogue. I've posted on the topic twice in the past :

Movie Dialogue with Astrology (2009)

and

More Astrology in Movie Dialogue - an updated and expanded version of the 2009 post (2012).


I discovered another instance this week, watching a film, Broken City on HBO. On checking I discovered the movie was released only in April this year - can't have been very well received, then. It usually takes at least a year after release before movies appear on HBO. Husband didn't receive it well anyway - he went to sleep a lot, then declared it to be disjointed......hmmm!

The astrology in Broken City's dialogue was fleeting, and one of the silliest instances so far, but worth saving for its incongruity. A former New York police detective, thrown off the force after shooting a rapist in the head, now a private eye, talks with the Police Commissioner in a dark New York bar. Neither fully trusts the other. Private eye (Mark Wahlberg) says to Police Commissioner: "I think you're two-faced". Police Commissioner (Jeffrey Wright) responds with "What...Gemini? No, I'm Taurus. What about you?" Private eye (Wahlberg): Cancer.

Now... in what dimension would a tough New York ex-cop and a shrewd Police Commissioner have enough interest in astrology to know even their Sun signs? Or even if they did, be making mention of them in a bar? Still, it elicited a laugh from me, woke up the sleeping husband, and provided an additional item for my growing list.


As for astrology in novels - I've collected a few examples of that too, as mentioned in these posts from previous years:

Novels Featuring Astrology

Astrological Twins in Fiction

Novels (and Columbus Day)




I discovered a new example this week, at The Oxford Astrologer blog, in a post titled
Astrologer Wins Top Literary Prize. The novel's title: The Luminaries, author: Eleanor Catton, winner of this year's Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Oxford Astrologer writes: Her massive historical novel boggled the judges minds. How did she structure it? Using proper, grown up astrology. More information on the novel HERE.

Any more suggestions - movies or novels?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weekend Pick and Mix

Gravity, the movie

We saw Gravity this week - had meant to see in at an IMAX theatre while in Columbus, but Ohio's Revenge got me. The movie is technically brilliant, hard to know just how some of those effects were perfected. Even so, I was a bit disappointed. I found the unrelenting feelings of tension went on too long. The movie is only 90 minutes long, but an hour would have been sufficient for the part we saw, with 15 minutes tacked on at each end to outline what led up to the story at the beginning, and more detail at the end of the full outcome. I'll say no more in case a passing reader is waiting to see the film.



Solar

Husband left me an article from a local newspaper: "Utilities, solar companies fight over rates."

Snip~
"Some power companies are proposing an extra fee for solar customers. Others are trying to roll back or block programs that allow those customers to trade the solar power they generate during sunny days for power they need from the grid during other times.

As rooftop solar extends from a niche product to a mainstream way to save money on power bills, utilites are afraid they will lose so many customers - and revenue - that they won't be able to afford to build and maintain the grid.............."
It's a pity that some (all?) power companies have been so short-sighted as to not get into the solar market from the very beginning. But then, in Oklahoma they wouldn't would they - 'cos their Senator, James Inhofe says global warming is a hoax.


Racial

Another of those bogus pieces trying to stir up racial argument.

How race affects who audiences forgive - Woody Allen and Roman Polanski get a pass from white audiences for abuse allegations - black artists don't. By Feminista Jones

I was glad to note that most commenters felt as I did, that this type of article is unhelpful and pretty darn worthless.



America

If anyone hasn't seen this piece by Eric Idle, formerly of Monty Python:
America the Half Beautiful,
do take a look. It's a good read. I responded, loudly, with "Hear hear!"

(More on Eric Idle and his natal chart in a post, Monday Mirthmaker, HERE.)




Strong Mind or Good Eye?

Here's something I saved a while ago, have lost my note of the website from whence it came, so I cannot link to its origin - my apologies to whom it may concern!

Well...can you read it? I stumbled over the first 2 lines then quickly "got my eye in" and read it quite easily. Strong mind - moi .....they might think that, I couldn't possibly comment. ;-)

Friday, October 18, 2013

VENUS PEOPLE


A little astrology as a change from politics today. The Sun will remain in Venus-ruled Libra for a few more days, Venus rules art and this is Arty-Farty Friday... here's an edited version of an old post of mine:





 Venus at Cardiff Castle, Wales, with symbols of Libra  & Taurus
People with Libra or Taurus strongly placed in their natal charts could be termed Venus people. 20th century astrologer, Carl Payne Tobey, compared such Venus people in his "Astrology Primer for the Millions". His assessments help us to see that although there are big differences between the two signs there are, sometimes, at their core, subtle similarities flowing from their traditional ruler. His words refer not only to those with Sun in Taurus or Libra, but anyone with natal Moon or several planets there, or with one of those signs on the ascendant. In my opinion, even if only Venus and/or Mercury are in Taurus or Libra in a natal chart, there will be quite a noticeable slice of the relevant sign contained in the personality. Also, if the ruler of one's Sun lies in one of these signs, some of Mr. Tobey's remarks will be likely to apply.

One thing I did find puzzling was that Mr Tobey considers that Libra lacks initiative, it's mentioned in various places in this piece. Most (or all) sources tell us that the cardinal signs (Libra is one of the four) are the initiators. I kind of understand what he's saying, but there might have been a better way to express it.

Below are some details from Carl Payne Tobey's book, with a few remarks from me.


Taurus and Libra are usually friendly and perhaps lethargic signs. They are strongly attracted to the opposite sex but are not particularly aggressive about it. They are more inclined to let things come to them. They prefer to attract people to themselves than run after them. Yet here we have some very romantic people. They react more than they initiate. (Note from me - that's odd, Libra being Cardinal sign). .......

These are not what we could call the nervous types, particularly Taurus is not. In fact it can be stoic. Neither sign is too easily aroused. They are more inclined to take things in their stride........they are much more calm than other signs. They appear more easily satisfied.

For all of this, and for all of these similarities, they are opposites in many respects.

Taurus is more material. It comes into the world to think of and deal with material things, but under certain conditions is capable of great transformations. It likes the land and likes it in big quantities.........Great wealth is often connected with this sign. These people often build up great power of one kind or another. They enjoy possessing great power, even if they never use it. Hitler was a Taurean.......we had a breakthrough of a Taurean into the metaphysical in Shakespeare. In the entertainment world Bing Crosby. (Note from me - the author is of a different era, so most of his examples are not very useful in today's world - I've omitted those which now seem obscure).

Taurean women, for the most part are inclined to be settled. They can get pretty attached to their homes and families. They can be steadying influences upon their husbands. They will enjoy entertaining at home, but they like good homes in which to entertain. (Note from me: we have to forgive Mr Tobey for his somewhat sexist outlook, he lived in a different era from ours).

Libra isn't so attached to material things above what they may need for comfort. They like nice things and appreciate quality. They would prefer to do their entertaining in a small way, with a select group of friends. They are less impressed by bigness. They don't concentrate on one thing the way a Taurean will. There is stubbornness in Taurus, but this is rare in Libra. When enthused, Taurus has a one-track mind, one object upon which it concentrates......Libra is not like that. It weighs both sides of any subject. It knows when something is off balance.

Except when the ruling planet, Venus, is in Scorpio, Libra can be a very just sign. It doesn't want to hurt anybody. There is a considerable difference in that Taurus believes in its own power even though it is a cautious sign, while Libra lacks self-confidence. You have to convince Libra how good it is. Try to tell Libra how good it is and it will appreciate it but probably won't believe it. Nevertheless the sign will feel good because you said so.

Too few Libra people develop their talents properly because of the lack of self-confidence. There is often good musical or artistic ability which is not developed. The sign likes all flattery even if it doesn't believe it.........there is an ability to understand abstract design, with the result that Libra can become a masterful mathematician, if the fear of mathematics as a subject is overcome.

It is apt to flatter Libra to be desired sexually, and the sign can be very affectionate.

While Taurus can be sluggish until it gets started or gets up its momentum, Libra is inclined to be lazy. The women enjoy sweets. (Note from me: I bet the men do too!) And if contentedly married they can become compulsive eaters. Then weight becomes a problem. Doctors investigating the subject find more Libra women afflicted with obesity than any other sign. They need a new interest of some kind to make them forget food and sweets. (Note from me:Oh, Mr Tobey - do I detect male chauvinism?)


With Libra the kidneys can be a weak spot, while with Taurus it is the throat.

Libra doesn't usually have the staying power of Taurus. ........Neither of these signs can ordinarily be called impulsive. They don't usually take the initiative (Note from me: even though Libra is a Cardinal sign?)......Yet many of the greatest military men have been born under these signs. They are not warriors. They do not want to fight, but if somebody is going to fight, they'll be likely to withdraw until they develop or assemble sufficient strength to win. U.S. Grant was a Taurean. (From me: Eisenhower was a Libran).

It is more difficult for Taurus to break away from the hereditary factor than for Libra to do so. There is basic family loyalty in Taurus, but if Libra doesn't like its relatives, it will look elsewhere for friends to take the place of relatives. It may show more interest in strangers than Taurus.....................

Neither of these signs can be considered as aggressive, nor can we call them ambitious signs. The Taureans who are ready to push themselves almost invariably have planets in Aries also (like Hitler), while Librans who will push themselves seem to have planets in Scorpio (Note from me: think Dennis Kucinich). Otherwise that push isn't there. Vitality and ambition are lacking.

These are not ordinarily to be considered signs of self-interest. They will usually step aside for others. It isn't in their nature to step on other people's toes. If they don't like a person, they will stay away from that person. They won't annoy him. When they can have harmonious associations they will be very cooperative. They are slow to anger, but don't push them too far. Particularly Taurus can be extremely violent if pushed too far.

When we come to the Mars-ruled combination of Aries and Scorpio you will see a marked difference in basic character structure. (From me: that'll be for another time!)

Venus photograph from Wikipedia.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who'd Replace the Republicans?

From a report at Salon by Josh Eidelson of an interview with congressman Alan Grayson (Dem. Florida):

On the first day of the government shutdown, firebrand Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson told Salon that Republicans’ on-the-job drinking was partially to blame. Now he says the current showdown will end the party – for good.

Snip from Tuesday's interview - still relevant even though the shutdown is over - in the nick of time too eh? Oh my, they do know how to milk a drama!

Are you suggesting the voters will prevent it from happening again?

The voters will prevent this from happening again. Even a dog knows when it’s being kicked.

How will they do that?

By voting the Republicans out of power and relegating the Republican Party to the ash heap of history.

Does that mean a new era of liberal legislation out of Washington?

I don’t know. You know, eventually the Whig Party was replaced to some degree by the Republican Party. I don’t know what’s going to replace the Republican Party. I just hope that it’s more benign and less malignant.

What about if there’s a deal in the next couple days?

It’s irrelevant. They keep dragging America into heavy traffic. They’ve done this over and over again. The fact that there’s some kind of temporary deal until December or January doesn’t change the fact that they are anarchists. To the extent that responsible people want to continue having our society function, the Republicans will have to be rejected. They’ll have to be expelled from the body politic.

Re my highlighted & underlined portion:

The Democrats should replace the Republicans and a proper left wing party should replace the Democrats.

There y'are: done and dusted!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Up Series Continues : 56 Up

I had an unexpected treat from Monday evening's TV - PBS showed, in full, the most recent episode of what I've often described as "the best thing ever on TV": The Up Series. I wrote about the series in 2010 after having purchased a DVD set of all the programmes in the series to that point. The best way to explain is to copy my 2010 post below, and say that the latest episode, 56 Up shown on PBS this week, brings the original group of 7 Up kids well into middle age.



I was happy to see that no dreadful calamities had befallen any of the group, and though circumstances weren't vastly different from those in the previous, 49 Up, episode it was good to see that the group was each coping well with any difficulties brought about by financial meltdowns, austerity and suchlike.

A couple of the original group members who had declined to appear in some of the previous episodes returned for reasons of their own - to promote an album of their music in one case, and to publicise a charitable organisation aiding the people of Bulgaria in another.


Evidence of the dreaded British class system, so apparent in the early episodes has weakened but still remains. Several of the group complained that the shows had not portrayed them in full - but really, how could it ever have been possible to do so? Those complaints annoyed me, more than anything else in any of the shows. Possibly prima-donna mode is now creeping in? Michael Apted, the show's producer says that he intends, God willing, to do a 63 Up episode, in due course. I hope I shall still be around to witness that.

I'd still love to have some of the birth dates of the group members.

Anyway, here's my 2010 post, again. For any passing reader who'd like to read the few comments to it, here's the link: Seven Up & The Up Series: Saturn Cycles

Seven Up & The Up Series: Saturn Cycles


A fascinating example of what is now known as "reality TV" began as a single documentary during early years of television in Britain. In 1964 Granada Television produced 7 Up. It has slowly grown into The Up Series. The original programme was followed, at intervals, by 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up 42 Up and 49 UP. From which list the mathematically inclined reader will deduce that the programmes had some connection with 7-year cycles. Sure enough. The programmes followed the lives of a group of British children, all born in or near 1957, from age 7 onward into adulthood, at 7-year intervals. The children came from very different backgrounds, wealthy upper-class, local authority children's home, urban, rural, and much inbetween.

The "Up" series was based on the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." In tandem with that premise, the shows aimed to show that, like it or not, the British class system remained largely in place.



I recently bought the DVD set of the full series to date. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing some episodes again after many years, and discovering, at last, what has happened to the group during later, unseen, episodes. My American husband has found the films fascinating in their Britishness, yet not completely unrelatable to life in the USA. People are people are people!

Astrologically inclined readers will already be thinking: Saturn! For a rundown on the 7-year cycles of Saturn see Jim D'Amato's article The Saturn Cycles. It has been a source of mild frustration to me that I can't know the birth data of those involved in the series, for this would be a wonderful opportunity to study natal charts with life patterns. However, these people have probably been exposed to enough already without a nosey blogger like myself adding to their discomfort. Even so - it'd be such an interesting exercise.

Respected movie critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review of the DVD set:
They (the programmes) also strike me as an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium. No other art form can capture so well the look in an eye, the feeling in an expression, the thoughts that go unspoken between the words. To look at these films, as I have every seven years, is to meditate on the astonishing fact that man is the only animal that knows it lives in time.

Paul Almond, a Canadian television and motion picture screenwriter, director and producer was 7 Up's creator. His English assistant and researcher Michael Apted (Sun in Aquarius)soon took over from him and has continued directing the programmes. He was involved in the original selection of the children. The kids were chosen, often with advice from their schools, on ability to express themselves well and be reasonably outgoing. It's remarkable that the group chosen has provided such varied and fascinating life stories. One of the group has emigrated to Australia, one to the USA, one likely to move to Spain. Most have married and have families, some have divorced - some re-married. Two teach, one dropped out of society completely but later found a way back, two practice law, one is a taxi driver, one is a fork-lift truck driver, one works in the construction industry, one for the BBC, one is a children's librarian, one a secretary.....and so on.



Class - the curse of the British - raises its ugly head often in the series. Some of the most amusing interviews, early on, are with priggish and pretentious little 7-year old boys and a girl from upper-class, wealthy backgrounds and expensive private schools. Some of these kids mature and develop rather more compassionately than others, and here lies much of the programme's fascination. Watching early episodes, it was easy to make assumptions about the futures of the boys and girls. Those assumptions often turned out to be very wide of the mark. The gorgeously bright and lively 7-year old Liverpudlian who seemed like the star of the first show, but in adulthood became an anti-social depressive. A development that shocked many viewers. The shy country lad brought up on an isolated farm in the Yorkshire Dales became a nuclear physicist and Professor at a university in the USA.

It's a sobering experiment to look at one's own life in 7-year slices. In my own case, until my 28-Up, or even 35-Up years, I hadn't got into a groove at all. My life didn't properly fit me before then. I'd have made a very boring subject.

One of the best reviews of the DVD set, other than Roger Ebert's, linked above is this one by Bill Gibron at DVD Talk. In his last paragraph he says:


All plaudits and platitudes aside, The Up Series is phenomenal. There is nothing else like it in the history of cinema, both in the documentary and straight narrative format. It proves the age-old adage that truth is stranger and more dramatic than fiction, and as a film series, it never once fails to move and manipulate you. Apted has plans in place to keep the series going on indefinitely – or as long as there are enough participants willing and brave enough to open up their lives to the invasive invitation over the next few decades – and the possibilities seem endless. Just like life. Indeed, The Up Series is really a devastating portrait of life as it is lived.


In the last episode of the series so far, 49Up, some of the participants began to air their grievances about the programmes. One indicated that this would be her last: "This is me - I'm done!" she said candidly, but without rancour. Others hinted that the intrusion into their privacy every 7 years was becoming unwelcome. One was very vocal about her lack of control. One, rather scathingly, likened the programmes to Big Brother or I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (the same one who "couldn't see the point of it all" at age 7.) He had only taken part in some of the later episodes to publicise his charity though - so actually the programmes had a point for him, if he could manage the humility to see it! Only one participant said the programmes were "important", even though he found the early ones painful, reminding him of his roots and homeland, which he misses. Two of the original group dropped out completely in their 20s, for their own reasons. Others of the group seem accepting and have taken it all in their stride.

It'll be interesting to see whether a 56Up does emerge in the next few years, and how many of the original group are still willing to take part.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1927....2013

An article at Common Dreams yesterday, about a new book by Bill Bryson had to catch my eye. I've read several of his travel books, count him as a favourite author. His new book is titled One Summer - America, 1927.

In the Common Dreams article Heather Mallick proposes that:

2013 Resembles 1927, A Terrifying Year
2013 is looking a lot like 1927, a scary year in American history.


2 paragraphs from Ms Mallick's piece:
I don’t know why you all seem to think it’s 2013. Clearly it is 1927. I just read Bill Bryson’s book on the American summer of that year — the glorious writer has an astonishing knack for narrative even on sedative subjects like baseball — and it fell from my nerveless fingers when I realized what he was trying to convey.

The world is holding 1927 all over again......................................

Here’s the list the normally cheerful Bryson offers in One Summer, America 1927: The U.S. Federal Reserve made the fatal error that led to the 1929 stock market crash. The Mississippi flooded catastrophically. Young “flappers” were dressed like sluts and dancing shamelessly. A Michigan man blew up a school to protest taxation, killing 44 people in the worst mass child slaughter in U.S. history. Anti-Semitism rolled and crackled. Radio became huge, a free medium that killed many newspapers and left journalists wondering what to do. The U.S. was run by two presidents, Coolidge and Hoover, each awful in their own way. Terrorist bombs went off across the U.S. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. Prohibition made people drink illegally. Charles Lindbergh made international flight look easy.

Ms Mallick ends with:
Bryson’s book is very fine but Americans will read it for giggles and miss its point. We have learned nothing. We are gormless, we are running on the spot.

Official synopsis of the book:
In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day (and slept much of the rest of the time), a semi-crazed sculptor with a mad plan to carve four giant heads into an inaccessible mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown and finished it as the most famous man on earth. (So famous that Minnesota considered renaming itself after him.)

It was the summer that saw the birth of talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone’s reign of terror, the horrifying bombing of a school in Michigan by a madman, the ill-conceived decision that led to the Great Depression, the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth, and an almost impossible amount more.

In this hugely entertaining book, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy. With the trademark brio, wit and authority that have made him Britain’s favourite writer of narrative non-fiction, he rolls out an unforgettable cast of vivid and eccentric personalities to bring to life a forgotten summer when America came of age, took centre stage and changed the world for ever.

I reached for my 20th century ephemeris to see what the outer planets were doing in 1927 - perhaps there'd be some correlation with the 2013 lineup. I couldn't spot anything obvious, other than Uranus transiting Aries during both time spans.

Taking June as representative of 1927's summer: Saturn at 3 Sagittarius; Uranus 2 Aries; Neptune 24 Leo; Pluto 14 Cancer. In June this year Saturn at 5 Scorpio; Uranus 11 Aries; Neptune 5 Pisces; Pluto 11 Capricorn.

From other reviews of Brysons's new book I've read so far, it seems to me to illuminate more of an "entrance" and "exit" situation: in 1927 the USA entered its presumed heyday, in 2013 it is at the exit.

Without reading the book, it's unfair to judge one way or another, but from what we know: any thoughts?

There's an old post from April 2007 titled Everything in Life is Somewhere Else..... mentioning Bill Bryson, I found it and was surprised to discover a coincidence of sorts. That post was written just as we were about to set out on our first, and only other trip to Ohio to see husband's son, we've just returned from a second such trip!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Next Exit 2016?

The outlook is dull, no silver linings can be seen behind the clouds, so far. To brighten things, how about looking further ahead than the next government shutdown (if this one ever ends).

2016? Whenever I have to face something I don't enjoy ( major dental or medical treatment for example) I send my mind well ahead to when it'll all be over, and concentrate on that. Perhaps concentrating on future possibilities now would serve to lighten our darkening skies a little.

I read a decent piece by Sean McElwee in this vein yesterday at Salon, with some interesting comments attached:
"To defeat the Tea Party, the left needs bolder leader than Hillary
The right's tactics won't change. Democrats need a 2016 candidate who fights differently than Clinton and Obama."


Whether Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency in 2016 isn't clear, but let's say she will. Would she be the best way forward for the "left"? I use the word "left" with caution, because really and truly there is no representative of the true left in the USA - such a person is not allowed to rise. If one were to appear on the scene he/she would be put down rapidly, either by ridicule or something more destructive. I shall have to curb my enthusiasm for true leftists and third parties in 2016, while still scanning the horizon anxiously for the rise of one of them. Bearing all that in mind then, would Hillary be the best we could hope for as next President? I must not forget that the president is only one piece of the picture. More truly left-leaning and outspoken congress people would be an even more important step to take at election time - but where are such people? Perhaps a few more of them will appear in 2014 and 2016, emboldened by the currently wretched job incumbents are doing.

One commenter to the linked piece pointed out that progress towards the left, however much many of us wish for it, has to be very, very gradual, in order to avoid dangerous backlash from the extreme rightist and/or dominionist factions. I agree, reluctantly. Hillary does fill that requirement. From what I've read about her early years, she did seem, then, to be of the true left. Her experiences with "the guys behind the curtain" must have dampened her leftist ardour in maturity. She does know how to play the game, must have learned many lessons from Bill. How to play the game is a valuable skill to have, in the circumstances. The skill: an ability to please "the guys behind the curtain" while still helping the rest of us, and the nation, as much as possible. Maybe this would be further lesser evilism, but if, for the time being, it's all we can have....what else is there, other than to keep scanning the horizon for signs of change?

The argument I see often, that "the US isn't really a leftist country at heart", doesn't ring true. Look what happened when candidate Barack Obama presented his original promises of hope and change, leftist proposals all the way from him - then: fighting Wall Street, making government more open and transparent, healthcare legislation with a public option, closing Gitmo, and more. You remember all those good promises? The people ate them up, ravenously, and voted him in. Then what happened? His devoted followers still insist that he has been thwarted at every turn by an intransigent congress. Others consider he was a centrist or mild conservative from the start, someone wily enough to know how to play the base sufficiently well to get into the White House. History will decide which was the true face of Barack Obama. What his original triumphant win did prove is that the USA truly wants to be the more left-leaning nation it is not presently allowed to be.

Names such as Elizabeth Warren, are being thrown around as an alternative to Hillary Clinton for the Democrats in 2016. I think Ms Warren is too new to the game, but in time she could prove to be the nation's saviour. 2020? 2024? I'd like to see Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders in positions of some power, if not president, with considerably more national influence - and Dennis Kucinich of course. It's not likely to happen in my lifetime though, maybe not even in theirs.

Well....that didn't turn out to be a particularly sky-lightening exercise after all. Hmmmm. I shall have to take the following to heart:
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

~ Bruce Lee


Sunday, October 13, 2013

TRIP SNIPS

On the way to Columbus we spent a few hours in Yellow Springs, Ohio. I'd been told this was a lovely arty little town. I had the wrong idea in my mind - or else the town has changed over recent years. It's really a hippie little town - a real throw-back. We got there around 10.30 am and found nothing, but nothing opened before 12 noon, hardly anybody was up - the odd barefoot coffee drinker, a stray cat or two (and the place smelled of cats!) I wasn't exactly disappointed though, the town's heart is definitely in the right place.

(Clicking on the images should bring forth bigger versions)

Good to see the Peace Flag flying in Yellow Springs, Ohio!

 Yellow Springs has stuff!

 And some other stuff!

 And the right ideas!

 More good ideas

On the way back we had an overnight stop in Paducah, Kentucky - my kind of town, especially the "historic downtown" area. It somehow brought to mind how turn of the century France might have looked. The town's name, Paducah, is a tribute to a friendly Chief of Chickasaw Indians, Chief Paduke, whose people lived and hunted in the area until the Jackson Purchase of 1818.

There are several unusual arty stores in town, a big theatre, some interesting restaurants and a very pleasant atmosphere in general. The city sits on the confluence of two rivers: the Ohio and the Tennessee. There's a "Wall Wall" of scenes of the city's past, along the riverfront, with plaques of explanation beneath each one.

 Part of the Wall Wall

 A scene of Paducah's main street in the 1940s -  from Wall Wall

 Outside an arty store with a stainless steel sculpture - anybody's for  $8500!! (Not me - the sculpture!)



 A light lunch at Shandie's - the Stuffed Portobello was delish!


On our "extra" day we visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This lovely view is a few miles outside the town, along with a couple of antique stores, so we simply had to stop! Eureka Springs itself, though very pictuesque, is in full tourist mode - too much so for our taste, even if we could have found a place to park the car - which we couldn't. so we drove on to enjoy some equally beautiful scenery.




 View from inside an antique store

Mike will recall my "Black Magic Woman" Austin Productions 1972 piece. The sculpture below, also an Austin Productions piece, was spotted by my husband in an antique store in Columbus. I wasn't with him at the time - I was confined to hotel room near the toilet after suffering a bout of what I shall call Ohio Revenge.
Husband told me the piece was on sale for $65. I'd not have paid that much, but might have tried a haggle or two.


 Another  Austin Productions piece