Friday, July 31, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ John French Sloan, Socialist of the Ashcan School

Around the time Uranus moved from Sagittarius to Capricorn in late 1904/early 1905 and formed an opposition to Neptune in the early degrees of Cancer, a new atmosphere was arising. Writers, journalists and artists opened their eyes to what was going on in the real world, the injustices, the strivings of ordinary people. The Muckrakers (see archived post HERE), including novelists such as Upton Sinclair heard "the call" and responded.
John French Sloan, Self portrait
John French Sloan was one of a group of New York painters, hailing from Philadephia, who also heard the same "call" and decided to give American art something of a makeover. They'd seen too many scenes depicting mythological and biblical tales, too much stodgy moralising in paint. Their aim was to depict real Americans doing real, everyday things. Critics labelled these painters with a then somewhat derogatory term, "The Ashcan School". Sloan was one of the most politically minded of this group, and demonstrated this very clearly in his secondary style of artwork: sketches for radical magazines such as The Masses.

I think the most telling piece of all in his natal chart is Venus (planet of the arts) in helpful sextile to Uranus (planet of rebellion/revolution).

 12 noon chart - click to enlarge
Sloan was born on in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania on 2 August 1871. He studied art in Philadelphia, worked as an illustrator there, and moved to New York in 1904, after he married. The couple made their home in Bohemian Greenwich Village. Many of his paintings reflect the way life was for ordinary New York folk. Vintage photographs from that era can tell us something of those times, but most are studio portraits; Sloan and his peers left us, in their paintings, some little slices of informal everyday life in the early years of 20th century.

This under 3 minute video shows just a few of Sloan's paintings. More can be seen via Google Image.

 Hat-tip HERE

In 1912 Sloan assumed the position of art editor of The Masses, a magazine with strongly socialist leanings, addressing working-class issues.

 From HERE
Around the start of World War I Sloan became disillusioned with the ability of the Socialist party to make a real difference in workers' lives. He withdrew from the Socialist party, reduced his magazine input, and ceased working for The Masses completely in 1916, following a dispute regarding the magazine's art and political content. He was always a strong supporter of women's suffrage and contributed drawings to feminist magazines, Woman Voter and Woman's Journal.

John Sloan’s drawing of a coal miner’s suicidal vengeance after the murders of his wife and children has become an icon of American labor history. It is an enduring memorial to the twenty individuals—thirteen of them women and children—who were shot at or burned to death when Colorado National Guardsmen fired upon an undefended union tent colony on April 20, 1914, in what was quickly dubbed the Ludlow Massacre. This watershed event dramatized the abuse of unregulated authority by industrialists and their agents and won widespread national support for the cause of the miners.(HERE)

 John D. Rockefeller with blood on his hands.  Workingmen’s fists try to break down the door behind him.  Bible with his initials is on the floor at his feet. (See here)

 "In Memoriam". "Here is the real triangle"  relates to  Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 (Here)

 N.A.M. =  National Association of Manufacturers
Besides funding pro-fascists groups like the Silver Shirts, corporate America sponsored several other groups that maintained a speck of respectability. One such organization that figured prominently in spreading the propaganda was the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The first president of NAM was Samuel Bush, father of Prescott and grandfather of George H. W. Bush [great grandfather of George W. Bush]. Such organizations as NAM would serve as bridge groups between the rich corporate owners and the public.

 "Positively disgusting! It's an outrage to public decency to allow such exposure on the streets"

 Puzzle: Find a way to vote without helping the Dough Dough Class.
See HERE (click on image to clarify.)

The following two drawings are Sloan's illustrations for Mary Alden Hopkins,"Women March," in Collier's magazine, May 18, 1912.

 Hooray, hooray for Mother!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Open for business.....

I got nuttin' for today - must be the heat!

But do have a look at this:

Dance of Air

Oh...and - late yesterday afternoon I saw THIS regarding lost plane MH370 (lost for some 17 months).
I've been kind of expecting something like this, been watching the pilots' "pprune" website for the last few weeks, and now they've got a thread going on MH370 again:

Open thread for anyone who has a grumble, an observation, or a few words of wisdom to share.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What time is it? Quite possibly it's Gemini Phase of Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces.

I have wondered, from time to time, (no pun intended) whether the whole "Age of...." thing isn't just so much Taurean Excrement. Astrological Ages are calculated, not with direct reference to our tropical zodiac, but by the points at which the Sun enters each astronomical constellation at the vernal equinox, as equinoxes precess. Because the constellations are of varying size, Ages are of varying lengths. The spanner in the astrological works, to my mind has always been that delineation of constellations is a man made construct. Humans designated the shape, extent and patterns of constellations, who's to say the delineations we use are the correct way to carve up the sky? The best we can do, with any certainty, is relate events in history, throughout the world, to astrological symbolism and use that as guide. What we come up with may not be astronomically accurate, but who's to say that astronomy has the last word on this particular topic?
All that can really be said is that at some indeterminate point in the very distant past, for reasons unknown, there came the moment known to science as t = 0. We were on our way.
(Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, p.10)

Some detail from a book by Robert FitzGerald: Signs of the Times has helped me to see more sense in the whole astrological ages issue. Excerpts are available via the link.

Robert Fitzgerald divides astrological Ages into more accessible chunks: Eras and Phases.

At present we are in transit through the Age of Pisces. By this author's calculation the Aquarius Era of the Pisces Age ran from 1800 to 1980 - which could well account for insistence by some that we are already living in the Age of Aquarius.

Then, the author divides time into even smaller slices. 1950 to 1965 becomes the Aquarius Phase of the Aquarius Era of the Age of Pisces....that slice includes the psychedlic 1960s, often thought to be quite Aquarian in flavour - so with a double dose of Aquarius: Phase and Era, it actually fits....and always with a background of Pisces dreaminess.

1965 to 1980 = Pisces Phase of the Aquarius Era of Age of Pisces.

From 1980 to 2160 is the Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces. We are presently in the Gemini Phase: 2010 to 2025 of the Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces. How appropriate that is! What could be more Geminian than the mushrooming of communication via social media (Facebook, Twitter, old fashioned blogs like this one), and the ubiquitous cellphones and smartphones? While these are most prevalent in developed nations, there must be few parts of the globe where their influence remains unknown.

Cancer Phase of the Pisces Era of the Age of Pisces will run from 2025 to 2040. That sounds like an emotional ride and a half coming up some ten years hence, doesn't it!

For a brief rundown on all of these Eras and Phases, and comparisons with similar eras and phases throughout history, do take a look at the website, linked above.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

US Presidents - Astrological Groupings

Information at the following link will not be new to most astrologically-literate people in the USA. As the 2016 presidential electoral go-around will still leave my general election experience here in single figures, I'm not familiar with data presented - or if I have read it in the past, I've promptly forgotten all about it.

Zodiac Sign Found Most Among U.S. Presidents, by Corrine Lane.

Graphs and observations on US Presidents to date (with 4 listed exceptions) are grouped into:

Mid-heaven by sign, element, quality

Rising signs

Sun/Moon signs.

Because there's no time of birth available, as yet, for Bernie Sanders it's not possible to compare his data as regards mid-heaven and rising signs. His Virgo Sun and Aries Moon are not especially favoured, but MC and rising could balance that. I'm hoping for Cancer inclusion at rising or MC!

Hillary Clinton has Scorpio rising which isn't beneficial at all, according to this study.

Is Scorpio Rising So Scary?

Not even one U.S. president has had Scorpio rising. I have 3 theories about this. First, it may be that U.S.A. doesn’t want a sexy president. Second, Americans aren’t ready to trust a president that is so predisposed to extreme secrecy. Scorpio Rising people appear to be hiding something even when they are not. It’s been said that Scorpio Rising generates fear in others. (Scorpio’s secrecy is really just a protective instinct. It’s not anything to be afraid of.) Third, it may be that Scorpio Rising people are not at all interested in the office of U.S. President. In fact, they do not like to be put on display. They prefer to wield low-key, subliminal power. To see the zero-count for Scorpio rising, see the graph “Rising Signs of U.S. Presidents”, shown above.

Her Scorpio Sun is better placed in the graph, but Virgo mid-heaven isn't doing too well.

As for "The Donald" - his Leo ascendant (Fire) could be his undoing (one factor among many I dare say!) Final paragraph of the linked piece begins: "Earth, water, and air signs are pretty well represented in all three tallies. This favors a combination of dependable earth, compassionate water, and witty, airy intelligence. Fire signs ranked lowest among all three tallies."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bad Apples and Moonlit Apples

I'm 'avin' a bit of a grouch again. Apples. They are unrecognisable these days. Oh, they look alright, polished and unblemished, red, gold, green - labelled with variety an' all that, but they don't taste right. Skins tough as leather, flesh tough or hard as iron, flavour - what flavour?

Does anyone else have the same problem?

Once upon a time, long ago and far away, there was a span when I just about lived on apples. I was trying to lose weight, back in my late 20s, early 30s. I loved the easily identifiable apple differences - in shape, scent, flavour, of at least a dozen different English, and some "foreign" varieties. Most were available only at certain times of the year.

I guess I could be thought of as an "apple fancier" in those days. I'd haunt local greengrocer's shops or the Saturday Market looking for a specific variety. But then came supermarkets and things went rapidly downhill on the apple front. I'd still occasionally find a decent French Golden Delicious. South African Goldens were good too, but I boycotted them for a long time, due to the political situation there. Cox's Orange Pippins, possibly England's most popular apple, were still around, but flavour had gradually deteriorated, when not from local orchards. Macintosh Reds would appear once a year, and I'd buy lots of those - great scent they have, or had.

Since arriving in this fair land I could count on one hand the times I've tasted a decent apple, don't think I'd even use all fingers! The problem could be due to the area in which we live. Maybe good apples are still available elsewhere in the USA, nearer to where they are grown. Those arriving in our supermarket have probably been messed with at seed stage, sprayed within an inch of their lives, stored in cool storage, trundled across thousands of miles, before arriving for inspection of shoppers in south-western Oklahoma.


A poem kept trickling though my head earlier and prompted this post. It's a poem a work friend taught me many years ago. We'd start reciting it any time things (or people) on the job began to get tetchy, for some reason it acted as a release valve; before we reached the end of the first verse we'd be falling about laughing.

The poem was written by British poet John Drinkwater (born 1 June 1882).

Moonlit Apples

At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,
And the skylight lets the moonlight in, and those
Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes
A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.

A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches,
and then
There is no sound at the top of the house of men
Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again
Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.

They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;
On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams
Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,
And quiet is the steep stair under.

In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.
And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep
Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep
On moon-washed apples of wonder.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rosemary & Memory

 (Hyssopus officinalis LINN.)
History ~ The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells. At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water....Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year's gift - allusions to this custom are to be found in Ben Jonson's plays.

Here's an interesting article. It's yet another vindication of a piece of folk medicine. I've long been curious as to how these medicines were first discovered by our early ancestors. Was it trial and error, or had they access to some ancient, now lost, advice, and if so, from whom did it come?

"What does rosemary do to your brain?"

"In folk medicine, rosemary has been associated for centuries with having a good memory. But is it worth investigating whether it really has any powers, asks Dr Chris Van Tulleken."
...Prof Mark Moss at Northumbria University. His team is running an experiment to test whether rosemary essential oil could benefit future memory.....

Here's how the experiment worked. The team at Northumbria recruited 60 older volunteers to test the effects of not only rosemary oil but also lavender oil. They then tested these volunteers in a room infused with either rosemary essential oil, lavender essential oil or no aroma. Participants were told they were there to test a vitamin water drink. Any comments about the aromas were passed off as irrelevant and "left over from the previous group to use the room".

The volunteers... then took a test which was designed to test their prospective memory. It's a clever test with many layers so you never quite know what's being tested............(see full article for detail)

What Mark's team found was remarkable. The volunteers in the room with the rosemary infusion did statistically significantly better than those in the control room but lavender caused a significant decrease in performance. Lavender is traditionally associated with sleep and sedation.

Was the lavender sending our volunteers to sleep and decreasing their performance? How could vaporised essential oils possibly have this effect?

It turns out that there are compounds in rosemary oil that may be responsible for changes in memory performance. One of them is called 1,8-cineole - as well as smelling wonderful (if you like that sort of thing) it may act in the same way as the drugs licensed to treat dementia, causing an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.

These compounds do this by preventing the breakdown of the neurotransmitter by an enzyme. And this is highly plausible - inhalation is one of the best ways of getting drugs into the brain. When you eat a drug it may be broken down in the liver which processes everything absorbed by the gut, but with inhalation small molecules can pass into the bloodstream and from there to the brain without being broken down by the liver.

As further confirmation Mark and his team analysed blood samples and found traces of the chemicals in rosemary oil in the blood.

Ve-ery int-eresting!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Andy Goldsworthy, Sculptor, Naturalist, Photographer.

 Hat-tip HERE for photograph
In comments following an Arty Farty Friday post in June (HERE) there was mention of art using nature - transient but environmentally gentle. Brandon Anderton and Patrick Dougherty were mentioned. Here's another such artist, a Brit this time:
Andy Goldsworthy.
He has a birthday coming up on Sunday: born 26 July 1956 in Cheshire, now lives in Scotland.
He works with all manner of natural materials : ice, snow, water, wood, flowers, stones, pebbles....Many or most of his pieces are by nature transient, so to preserve a memory of his work he photographs them - at their best.
I can do no better than add parts 1 to 4 of videos showing some of his works, and occasional sight of him working on them, along with quotes of a few of his remarks.
The videos are each around 4 and a half minutes long.

If videos aren't your thing, just go to Google Image, insert this artist's name in the search box - hundreds of examples of his work are pictured there.

I won't post a natal chart, that would seem intrusive - but will just say that Mr Goldsworthy has his Leo Sun conjoining Uranus, and natal Venus in Gemini in trine to Neptune in Libra. Highly creative art arising from unexpected sources?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bernie Sanders and BLM

After last weekend's Netroots Nation intervention of Black Lives Matter activists during speeches by Democratic presidential candidates Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders, there was, it seems, a veritable onslaught of anti-Bernie stuff in the Twitter-verse, and ongoing argument, still, at some political websites.

A 20 minute video of the full segment of Senator Sanders' contribution at Netroots Nation is at the end of this post.

I, as no regular reader will be surprised to read, agreed with Bernie Sanders' responses. Some could have been made in better tone, and with a few additional points more relative to what the BLM people were shouting about. A little less discourtesy on their part and a little more tolerance on his part wouldn't have gone amiss. Still, he made the point that the issues he was speaking about: income inequality, inequality of opportunity, low wages etc. were at the root of much that is causing the wrongs felt by the African American population now.

Senator Sanders was, to my mind, taking what medical people might describe as an holistic approach - looking at the whole body of the USA, not a single symptom. In medicine this can be good or not so good, depending on circumstance. Treating a specific symptom is good, but ignoring underlying, and very serious conditions which are creating the situation is unwise and sometimes even fatal.

Police violence on African Americans is a very obvious wrong. Senator Sanders knows that it is a wrong powered by deeper factors, and unless those are dealt with there'll be no justice.

BLM activists made their point, I guess. It's odd, though, that they felt the need to make it in the place and at the time they did. I wonder from whom that idea originated? Sanders and O'Malley did show up to speak at Netroots Nation. Would it not have been more reasonable to direct some of the BLM's shoutings towards Hillary and the Republicans for not even bothering to attend, or maybe go to campaign speeches by Republicans such as Scott Walker, and try for a disruption there?

Throughout his career Bernie Sanders has been avidly pro-civil rights, that is a starting point from which to decide his attitudes. He is calling for controls on the police, the dismantling of the prison systems, full employment, free education....yet BLM, and countless on-line commenters choose to go after this candidate, attempting to discredit him?!

I feel certain that Senator Sanders' mis-step on Sunday, if it can be called that, as well as any hint of unpreparedness for hecklers, will be put right. He is a shrewd and experienced politician who has campaigned for mayoral and senate positions more than once during his long life. Yet he has never campaigned for the presidency of the USA. That has to be something entirely different, and something for which there is no possible preparation other than actually "doing it". It's a good thing Bernie began campaigning early, he has time to polish his game, and so have his advisers.

UPDATE: Sanders Calls Violent Arrest of Sandra Bland 'Totally Outrageous Police Behavior'....Recently challenged to address issues of racial injustice and police brutality more forcefully, Sanders does just that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pied Piping

Today is Rat Catcher's Day . Little known fact?

Rat Catcher's Day commemorates the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Two dates: June 26 and July 22 are involved. 26 June 1284 is thought to have been the actual day when, as legend tells, a mysterious piper arrived in the town of Hamelin in Germany, promising to lure away the rats then infesting the town, using his music - but for a price. The town's mayor didn't hold up his end of the bargain, the piper left but returned later to take revenge. He again played his music but this time lured away 130 of the town's children, most of whom were never seen again.

22 July 1376 is the date mentioned in a poem about the legend written by Robert Browning. It's said this date was used as poetic license, for reasons of rhyme:
...They made a decree that lawyers never
Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear:
“And so long after what happened here
On the twenty-second of July,
Thirteen hundred and seventy-six;"
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the children’s last retreat,
They called it the Pied Piper’s Street......

Whether the legend has a basis in fact has been investigated over the centuries. We'll never know for sure if the piper was a metaphor, or a fact, but it seems from ancient records that a loss of many children from the town did occur at that time. An article at Ancient Origins outlines some theories, including suggestions that the children might have died from natural causes - some kind of epidemic, the piper being a metaphor/personification of Death. Or that the children were sent away by parents due to extreme poverty (sounds unlikely to me). Or
"Yet another theory speculates that the children were participants of a doomed ‘Children’s Crusade’, and might have ended up in modern day Romania, or that the departure of Hamelin's children is tied to the Ostsiedlung, in which a number of Germans left their homes to colonize Eastern Europe. One of the darker theories even proposes that the Pied Piper was actually a paedophile who crept into the town of Hamelin to abduct children during their sleep."

Robert Browning's poem - at least the first couple of verses - have lodged themselves into my memory. In High School some of us were tasked to learn and sing a choral version of the poem. We rehearsed it over and over...and over, so many times that it must have deeply engraved itself into my grey matter. It begins like this:
Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladle’s,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats...........................

Those last two lines probably also described the sound of we schoolgirls, as we sang the ditty!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sensitive ?

Randomly opening, once again, 20th century astrologer C.E.O. Carter's "An Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology" (first published 1924, re-printed at various points throughout 20th century). This time I opened the book at "S" and picked "Sensitiveness". I'd have titled the paragraph "Sensitivity", but perhaps Mr Carter had his reasons.
Sensitiveness is common to all watery signs, and perhaps most of all to Cancer, this sign being susceptible to outside influences in the highest degree. All the negative signs are on the whole more receptive and sensitive than the positive, with the usual exception of Taurus, which is often extremely obdurate against criticism or slights of any kind - whence, among other reasons, the fact that it is the sign of the lunar exaltation. Here only the Moon may be said to find rest and stability. Leo and Sagittarius probably come next in lack of sensitiveness. Virgo is easily hurt and inclines to adopt an attitude of what is commonly called "huffiness". Capricorn readily feels slights or snubs, and is very sensitive to neglect or being overlooked. Libra is easily hurt, but, unlike the watery signs, has a short memory for such things, and can generally be easily consoled. Gemini and Aquarius are predominantly mental and do not feel injured over-easily.

In applying Mr Carter's interpretations, we have to bear in mind that he is talking about zodiac signs, not necessarily the sign in which one's Sun resides natally. Rising sign, Moon sign, clusters of planets in a sign, sign at mid-heaven will all figure in - as might house position if one is sure of time of birth.

Being a Cancer rising mortal, I shall raise my hand to being sensitive, which sensitivity is no doubt aided and abetted by Jupiter in Pisces in exact semi-sextile to Aquarius Sun - possibly softening some of that "mental" hardness and coldness often diagnosed as being "Aquarian". Mars in Scorpio completes my watery trio. Aries Moon tends to fight back when sensitiveness arises, but doesn't always win.

Any sensitive mortals reading this - care to share?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Music Monday ~ Wheels

Kay Starr has a birthday tomorrow - born on July 21, 1922 in Dougherty, Oklahoma. She's still with us, as far as I know, and she'll be 93 - Happy birthday Ms Starr! One of her most memorable recordings was this one:

The wheel of fortune
Goes spinning around
Will the arrow point my way
Will this be my day

Oh, wheel of fortune
Please don't pass me by
Let me know the magic of
A kiss and a sign

Song written by Bennie Benjamin and George David Weiss, published in 1951.

That song got me wondering whether there are any other songs with a similar theme, a theme not a million miles from astrology.

There's this, by a band I didn't know - Massive Attack,
Hymn of the Big Wheel:

The big wheel keeps on turning
On a simple line day by day
The earth spins on its axis
One man struggle while another relaxes

Lyrics in full HERE,
written by: Horace Andy, Neneh Cherry, Robert Del Naja, Grantly Marshall, Andrew Vowles.

And Journey's Wheel in the Sky :

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'
I don't know where I'll be tomorrow
Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'

Lyrics in full HERE

According to the liner notes of Journey's Time3 compilation, this started out as a poem called "Wheels In My Mind" by Diane Valory, the wife of Journey bassist Ross Valory. Robert Fleischman, the band's first vocalist, wrote new lyrics, and guitarist Neal Schon wrote the melody on acoustic guitar in the back seat of a station wagon while the band was driving between shows. (HERE)

Saturday, July 18, 2015


20 July, Monday, will be an anniversary:
Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC. Armstrong spent about two and a half hours outside the spacecraft, Aldrin slightly less, and together they collected 47.5 pounds (21.5 kg) of lunar material for return to Earth. The third member of the mission, Michael Collins, piloted the command spacecraft alone in lunar orbit until Armstrong and Aldrin returned to it just under a day later for the trip back to Earth. (Wikipedia)

So, in remembering that iconic event, a couple of items relating to the Moon would be apt. First, from BBC website, 13 July 2015, by Richard Hollingham:

The new head of the European Space Agency has a plan – for humanity to build a ‘village on the Moon’. Richard Hollingham asks him why.

.....When I ask him about his intentions for Esa [European Space Agency], I expect a predictable and politically nuanced answer about the economic and social benefits of space or maybe the importance for science of exploring the unknown Universe. Instead, [Professor Johann-Dietrich] Woerner surprises me with a vision for a future of space exploration that is both ambitious and audacious.

“We should look to the future beyond the International Space Station,” he tells me. “We should look for a smaller spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for microgravity research and I propose a Moon village on the far side of the Moon.”

Yes, a village on the Moon.

Just the sort of daring vision that took Nasa from a standing start to the Moon in the 1960s, but today – possibly constrained by its political masters – the US space agency appears to be lacking ambition.
“A Moon village shouldn’t just mean some houses, a church and a town hall,” says Woerner. “This Moon village should mean partners from all over the world contributing to this community with robotic and astronaut missions and support communication satellites.....” Full article at link above.

Next a bit about a movie I've mentioned before:

MOON - the movie
The 2009 indie sci-fi film Moon was co-written and directed by Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie).

The movie has echoes of 2001 A Space Odyssey, and a few other science fiction movies of the 1970s and '80s. It's difficult to describe the storyline without giving too much away. The general scenario is this:

At an undisclosed period in the future the world's energy problems have been solved. Sufficient energy is being produced by fusion reactors using helium-3 as fuel. Helium-3 is plentiful on the surface of the Moon. A corporation has set up shop on the far side of the Moon, collecting helium-3 from surface dust, using automated harvesters, then sending it back to Earth.

A lone human operative is necessary to collect the containers of helium-3, to put them in transit. Sam Bell, played with consummate skill by Sam Rockwell, is such an operative. As the movie opens he is working the last few weeks of a 3-year stint. He will have needed similar character traits to those of old-time lighthouse-keepers to withstand the lonely years.

In the base station, all-white environment, very reminiscent of the backdrops in 2001, Sam's only companion is a robot called GERTY, with the voice of Kevin Spacey. More echoes of 2001 and HAL. GERTY is a deal more friendly-seeming than HAL ever was, but it's left to the audience to decide whether this is simply another tool of manipulation used by the corporation. Sam receives regular video messages from his wife and young daughter, who wait for his return to Earth.

On one of his trips onto the Moon's surface to collect a filled cannister, while feeling unwell, he accidentally crashes his buggy into the harvester and passes out. When he recovers consciousness he's back at the base with GERTY tending him, telling him he has sustained a head injury.

To take the storyline beyond this point would involve giving away too much. Should a passing reader wish to know the rest it's available elsewhere on line via a click of the fingers on Google search box.

Sufficient to say that the movie becomes far more thought-provoking than one could possibly imagine from what I've revealed. The ending is satisfying. But you need to be quick to catch (what we heard as) the most subtle element of it.

What I got from Moon, along with an enjoyable evening's viewing, isn't mentioned in any review I've seen: the frightening level of power held by "the corporation" at that point in the future. Perhaps Duncan Jones didn't have this particular point in mind when writing the story, back in the UK some years ago. Here in the USA, now, warning signals were flashing, for me. Give a corporation an inch and they'll take a yard. They already have taken several yards and miles here in the USA! Life sometimes imitates art.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Arty Farty Friday ~ Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder. The anniversary of his birth is coming up next week, on 22nd. I posted about him some six years ago, a re-run tidied and edited wouldn't go amiss.

Calder invented the mobile, the first example of art in motion, but using natural air currents instead of today's technology, to provide movement. He said of his work:
"Each element can move, shift or sway back & forth in a changing relation to each of the other elements in the universe. Thus, they reveal not only isolated moments, but a physical law or variation among the elements of life. Not extractions, but abstractions. Abstractions which resemble no living things except by their manner of reacting."

 Hat-tip HERE

Calder was a pioneer in his era. As well as mobiles he produced huge and dramatic sheet metal sculptures for public spaces, tiny pieces of jewellery and objets d'art made from precious metals, also some abstract paintings.

He is said to have been influenced by some of his contemporaries: Joan Miro and Mondrian, using the inspiration he gained from their work to bring forth a kind of "spin-off" - literally.

Born into a family of artists, Calder showed early aptitude for sculpture, but chose to study engineering.

"Despite his talents, Calder did not originally set out to become an artist. He instead enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology after high school and graduated in 1919 with an engineering degree. Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics engineer and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship's boiler room. While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast). The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life. Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League. "

 Lunarscape (1953)

Before I looked at Calder's natal chart I decided there would have to be a goodly dose of Air in it, to account for his being drawn to produce artwork relying on air for its display. His inventive and futuristic style seemed to say Aquarius - or a strongly aspected Uranus. There'd also be some close Saturn connection to account for his choice to study engineering - not the obvious choice for someone with the soul of an artist. Let's see!

Born on 22 July 1898 in Lawnton, PA. I can find no note of his time of birth, so the chart shown is set for mid-day. Ascendant and exact Moon degree will not be accurate.

No Aquarius, but a nice close trine between Uranus in Scorpio and Cancer Sun, both at 29 degrees. And three planets in Airy Gemini, with Jupiter in Libra makes Air the dominant element in his chart. Saturn, which connects to metals and engineering is out of sign but conjunct Uranus, so also trines his natal Sun. The Moon would remain in Virgo with Venus whatever his time of birth - Virgo's insistence on attention to detail and exactness would be an important component in his ability to produce the kinetic artwork he's famous for.

Alexander Calder died in 1976. More biography here.

“To an engineer, good enough means perfect. With an artist, there's no such thing as perfect.”.

“The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof. For that is a rather large model to work from.”

Something to appeal to the astrologer in us (or in some of us):
"Spheres Within a Sphere"

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Iran Deal now on its way....pause for a lift of spirits, at least on this front. + Open Thread

From a "The Week That Was" post 0n 4 April this year:
And FINALLY...some good news!

Though the deal will not be sealed until later this year, a framework agreement, relating to Iran's nuclear program, was announced in Switzerland on Thursday. Agreement was reached between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the USA, plus Germany). It could be indication of better days ahead unless, of course, opponents manage to derail the agreement. Nothing is ever certain, but there is now at least room for hope. See HERE.

Things have now been moved further down the road to a "done deal" (see HERE). The agreement reached by P5+1 and Iran has still to be passed by the UN and, in September, by the US congress. Hmm - a possible bump in the road there, eh? How bloody ridiculous can the GOP make themselves on this? Dang!!

As someone pointed out among commentary I read yesterday, the congress vote in September is very important, but even more important still, on the Iran question (and on many others), is who'll be in charge after the 2016 general election.

Ye gods ! ~ Just when I was trying to feel uplifted, here comes more embarrassment for those of us living in OK who claim at least partial sanity:

Protesters Fly Confederate Flags To Greet Obama In Oklahoma
"You know, this flag's not racist. And I know a lot of people think it is, but it's really not."

And today - THIS!! Hellfire!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nebulous Neptune

 Neptune Calming the Tempest  (Rubens, 1635)
I suppose it's fitting that the origins of the god Neptune's astrological connection to the seas is a wee bit nebulous. Astrological Neptune is known for nebulousness. Custom and practice does seem to have made it a relevant connection - sometimes.

While reading something else on Roman festivals in general I noticed this from The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic by William Warde Fowler at Google books HERE. Clicking on the segments will bring up clearer images.

And from HERE:
Neptune is the god of the sea in Roman mythology, a brother of Jupiter and Pluto. He is analogous but not identical to the god Poseidon of Greek mythology. The Roman conception of Neptune owed a great deal to the Etruscan god Nethuns. Originally he was an Italic god paired with Salacia, possibly the goddess of the salt water. At an early date (399 BC) he was identified with Poseidon, when the Sibylline books ordered a lectisternium in his honour (Livy v. 13).

In earlier times it was the god Portunes or Fortunus who was thanked for naval victories, but Neptune supplanted him in this role by at least the first century BC, when Sextus Pompeius called himself "son of Neptune".

Neptune was associated as well with fresh water, as opposed to Oceanus, god of the world-ocean.

Like Poseidon, Neptune was also worshipped by the Romans as a god of horses, under the name Neptune Equester, patron of horse-racing.

Neptune was also considered the legendary progenitor god of a Latin stock, the Faliscans - ancient Italian people - who called themselves Neptunia proles. In this respect he was the equivalent of Mars, Janus, Saturn and even Jupiter among Latin tribes.

  Neptune Sending a Deluge to Troy, by Antonio Tempesta (17th century).

And there's this from
.....In searching for the mythological sense of the fable, we must again have recourse to Egypt, that kingdom which, above all others, has furnished the most ample harvest for the reaper of mysteries. The Egyptians, to denote navigation, and the return of the Phoenician fleet, which annually visited their coast, used the figure of an Osiris borne on a winged horse, and holding a three-forked spear, or harpoon. To this image they gave the name of Poseidon, or Neptune, which, as the Greeks and Romans afterwards adopted, sufficiently proves this deity had his birth here. Thus the maritime Osiris of the Egyptians became a new deity with those who knew not the meaning of the symbol.

So, Roman Neptune took on characteristics of Greek Poseidon, Greek Poseidon took on characteristics of an Egyptian depiction. What happened in astrology, though, to Neptune's link with horses and "stock" - why weren't these attached to Neptune, as well as a connection to the sea?