Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday's Stray Thought

Once I was a computer.

Not only me - millions of others too. We all were computers! Those of us who worked mainly in office environments were creating card indexes; indexing writers' texts; keeping ledgers, and adding up very long columns of figures therein - mentally; adding together the prices of multiple purchases - mentally; filing; keeping records of bookings and appointments in apple pie order; checking spelling using a dictionary; punching cards (I didn't ever do that)...and so on. Other work environments had their own list of essential duties to be carried out by flesh and blood computers. Most of those tasks are now managed by our techno-counterparts, at the press of a few keys. We humans still press the keys though - for now!

Vintage Everyday website has a good set of vintage photographs of office workers in the 1920s - they were computers too, of course. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Donkey Talk

Husband uncharacteristically failed to write a caption for this vintage photograph from his collection. He says he concentrated on the fact that some colouriser, at some point had been tinkering with it, and coloured just the trees.

For a bigger version (recommended) click on the image, the bigger image which appears can be made even larger (if your screen is up to it) by clicking on the down-pointing arrow (at far right) under the photo. A selection of sizes is offered there.


My brain's not at what it calls its best today - too many pills, but I've come up with:

Donkey to another donkey: Her skirt tickles...but if she ever takes that hat off, I'm eating those flowers.

Other Donkey: We trek 50 yards, then a photograph? I suppose these people think they're doing the Great Outdoors thing. Pike's Peak this ain't! Snort!

First donkey: Hey, have you noticed something funny about the trees round here?

Anybody willing to help out with something a tad better?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Real Abominables #4 ~ The Bosnian Genocide - Biljana Plavšić (and others)

A major problem in this "Real Abominables" exercise is in obtaining accurate birth data for indviduals involved, once these characters have been identified as having some level of leadership in the atrocities and genocides.

Oliver Cromwell, devasted Ireland and its inhabitants centuries ago, but there's no reliable birth data for him. Likewise, for Andrew Jackson, a figure involved in the Native American genocides in the early days of this nation. Even for Joseph Stalin, and some other well-known characters, there isn't a truly reliable set of data. I was about to start on a post about the man known as "Chemical Ali" due to his horrendous crimes in Iraq, real name Ali Hassan al-Majid, only to find that there's doubt on his birth data too.

I've decided to draw the series to a close now, by looking at one of the several figures involved in the Bosnian Genocide of the 1990s. Not Slobodan Milosovic, the best-known name involved in those events, because his birth data rated only a DD at Astrodienst. Even if I discount a time of birth and go with 12 noon, I'm not even 100% confident about the date. But, for reference, astrologer Lynn Hayes has written an astrological profile on him with the data available...see HERE.

I'm going to take a look at the chart of a female who was involved at a high level in the Bosnian Genocide: Biljana Plavšić. I have checked her date of birth in the case report, so it appears to be reliable, though with no birth time known.

It's not easy to nutshell the background to these events. To keep the post a reasonable length. I shall rely on bare bones, and brief borrowings only, with links to more detail from reliable websites.

Genocide in Bosnia (1992-1995)

Although many different ethnic and religious groups had resided together for 40 years under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government, this changed when the country began to collapse during the fall of communism in the early 1990s. The provinces of Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, and war quickly followed between Serbia and these breakaway republics. Ethnic tensions were brought to the forefront, and people who had lived peacefully for years as neighbors turned against each other and took up arms. When Bosnia attempted to secede, Serbia – under Slobodan Miloševic’s leadership – invaded with the claim that it was there to “free” fellow Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia.

Starting in April 1992, Serbia set out to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian territory by systematically removing all Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Serbia, together with ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attacked Bosniaks with former Yugoslavian military equipment and surrounded Sarajevo, the capital city. Many Bosniaks were driven into concentration camps, where women and girls were systematically gang-raped and other civilians were tortured, starved and murdered.

Biljana Plavšić, was a leading Bosnian Serb political figure holding a senior office before, during and after the 1992-1995 conflict. She participated in the persecutions of Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb populations in 37 municipalities. Plavšić supported a campaign of ethnic separation which resulted in the death of thousands of civilians and the expulsion of thousands more from municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in circumstances of great brutality, by inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force.

Mrs Plavsic came to politics late in life, after a career as a biologist, in which she published about 100 scholarly papers. She was appointed professor of biology at Sarajevo University in 1956 before taking up further academic posts in Prague and the United States.

She became a deputy to the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, known by some as "Butcher of Bosnia".

Biljana Plavšić was renowned throughout the 1990s as an uncompromising apologist of ethnic cleansing. Mrs Plavsic was virulently anti-Muslim. The self-styled "Serbian Iron Lady" once defended the purge of Bosnian non-Serbs as "a natural phenomenon" not a war crime.

She once insisted:"There are 12 million Serbs and even if six million perish on the field of battle, there will still be six million to reap the fruits of the struggle."
Even Slobodan Milosevic regarded her as a radical. Her outbursts led him to question her mental health, while Mr Milosevic's wife, Mirjana Markovic, dubbed her a "female Mengele" in a reference to the notorious Nazi doctor.

In 1992, a widely-circulated photograph showed her stepping over the body of a dead Muslim civilian to kiss the notorious Serb warlord Zeljko Raznjatovic, known as Arkan. But a decade later, she pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity, and apologised to "all the innocent victims of the Bosnian war - Muslims, Croats and Serbs alike".

Her change of heart was seen by some as a calculated manouevre to win a reduced sentence, and by others as part of a sincere and steady evolution of her attitudes to the Balkan wars.

She herself said that she had nothing to gain by seeking a reduced sentence, because at her age (72) even moderate 10-year jail term would in practice mean spending the rest of her life behind bars. In the event, she got 11 years. She was released after serving six years, in October 2009. See HERE.

 Welcomed back to Belgrade in October 2009

World without Genocide
Hague Justice Portal


Two things stand out for me: Sun conjunct Pluto and Mars conjunct Fixed Star Algol, which, at the time of her birth would have been at 25 degrees of Taurus and some minutes.

Algol is a Fixed Star ancient astrologers cast as malefic and unfortunate. Some modern astrologers strive to find a positive side to it, and no doubt in certain circumstances it can turn out to have had its benefits. (See astrologer Yasmin Boland's piece HERE)

More appropriate to this present finding of Mars conjunct Algol in Plavšić's natal chart is astrologer Joni Patry's article Fixed Stars and Mass Murders, HERE.
Ms Patry points out that Mars conjunct Algol was also present in the natal chart of Osama Bin Laden.

Sun conjunct Pluto is described at Darkstar Astrology as: The Darth Vader of all Sun aspects. This is high contrast and stark lighting. The brighter the Sun the darker the shadow and that is just what we get here.

There's obviously more to be said about this natal chart, but I'm going to stop there, with what I see as the points of major significance.

This post is the last of a short weekly series looking at charts of some of The Real Abominables. Perhaps another post on this topic will stray in at some point in the future, when enthusiasm strikes again; and if so will be linked back to this recent set.

What has shown up as being reasonably common factors from this very small sample? I've noticed well-integrated Pluto, bundled chart shapes, some emphasis on Fixed Stars.

POSTSCRIPT: I would not wish to ignore, for the purposes of this series, the beyond horrendous Nazi Holocaust and its perpetrators. However, all has been analysed again and again elsewhere, over time. Here are links to two fairly recent pieces of interest. The first takes in, briefly, many high level Nazi leaders with points on their natal charts seen as significant by astrologer Jamie Pardridge at Astrology King blog: Nazi Horoscopes. Another piece, Hitler and the Golden Yod at Chirotic Journal blog has an interesting take on Hitler's chart.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dylan Thomas - born a century ago today

Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was born on this day, 27 October, in the year 1914 in Swansea, Wales, UK. Astrotheme has his time of birth listed as 8.56pm.

His natal planets were a blend of Scorpio and Aquarius, in challenging square, an uneasy mix! If the birth time is accurate, ultra-sensitive Cancer would be his rising sign, the lens through which he viewed, and was viewed by, the world at large.

Pluto, his Scorpio Sun's ruler, in Cancer, is tightly conjunct Saturn, and is in harmonious trine to his Sun, and more widely to his Moon in late Aquarius - together these form a Grand Trine, a circuit of intense emotion, with a touch of the unexpected thrown in. The Grand Trine mostly reflects the poet's darkly emotional style, which often verges on the neurotic, a style difficult to describe and appreciate unless the reader has some similarity of nature. There's an undercurrent of despair, sometimes anger running through many of his poems. That anger comes courtesy of Mercury (writing and mental processes) conjunct Mars (anger, energy) in Scorpio (passionate emotion).

Neptune at 00 Leo opposite Uranus in Aquarius was an aspect between slow-moving outer planets shared by a whole age group. The dynamic pull between creativity, imagination and an avant garde style - for the times - is recognisable in many of his generation. This opposition of unruly Uranus and addictive Neptune is also in square, challenging aspect to his natal Sun, his history of alcohol abuse may connect here, also to the lack of grounding Earth planets in his natal chart.

In tribute to Dylan Thomas, a century later - his poem about his birthday:

Poem In October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

LYDIA the Astro-lady

This is an edited version of an old post from my first few months of astrology blogging, posted in January 2007. Not a bad idea, I thought at first, but having to draw and scan Lydia regularly would become a bit of a nuisance, as husband has the scanner and printer attached to his computer in another room. So Lydia disappeared as abruptly as she had arrived. Here she is, resurrected, with a couple of newly updated messages.

Meet AstroLydia. As Groucho Marx once sang "You can learn a lot from Lydia".....Lydia the astrolady.

She's composed of trines, squares, oppositions and conjunctions - aren't we all ?

"Uranus squaring Pluto multiple times between 2012 and 2015 - no cause for alarm -best advice,  loosen up and go with the flow - not always easy is it?"

I've been in hibernation since 2007, dreaming that when I woke I'd find a world far more conscious of what's happening to the climate and more involved in doing something about it. What y'all been doing for the past seven years? Crank up your Mercury - start complaining to your politicians!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Arty Farty Friday ~ Edward Gorey - Quirk without Qualm, Outstandingly Outlandish.

Whatever else he did, cartoonist, illustrator and writer Edward Gorey inspired numerous other writers and artists to use multiple adjectives when describing his work, and himself: merry but macabre, eclectic and eccentric, whimsically wicked...and more. He's a good candidate, then, as Arty Farty Friday subject for the week leading to Hallowe'en.

Edward Gorey was born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM, according to Astrodienst. He suspected that he had inherited his, mainly self-taught, artistic talents from a great grandmother who had been a popular nineteenth-century greeting card writer and artist. Sources describe Gorey as having been something of a child prodigy, exceptionally bright for his age. He grew up in Chicago and in teenage years started his artistic career early, publishing illustrations in the local newspaper. His time in Art School was cut short by world War II when was drafted into the U.S. Army. After the war he attended Harvard, studied French, was involved in the theater, graduated in 1950. He spent some time in Boston before moving to New York City to work for Doubleday Publishers, illustrating books and book covers.

Gorey published his own first book in 1953, an illustrated novella, The Unstrung Harp...or Mr Earbrass writes a novel. While continuing to illustrate for magazines and other authors, he began producing his own work, selling it in New York's Gotham Book Mart. In 1961 he founded his own publishing firm, Fantod Press.

“Mr Earbrass stands on the terrace at twilight. It is bleak; it is cold; and the virtue has gone out of everything. Words drift through his mind: anguish turnips conjunctions illness defeat string parties no parties urns desuetude disaffection claws loss Trebizond napkins shame stones distance fever Antipodes mush glaciers incoherence labels miasma amputation tides deceit mourning elsewards...”

Edward Gorey used many pseudonyms over the years, often based on anagrams of his own name. His pseudonyms included Ogdred Weary, Raddory Gewe, Wardore Edgy and Eduard Blutig… He never married and said he considered himself "asexual". He was a fan of ballet and theater, worked on stage design for a company in the town where he had a summer home, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 1977, his design for a Broadway revival of Dracula won him a Tony award for costumes.

Gorey's cartoons and illustrations depict a weird Edwardian world inhabited by formally dressed men and women, often alongside strange but relatively harmless fantastical creatures. He occasionally offered thinly veiled cynical comment on the social scene. Alphabets, a parody on tarot cards, stories of children, not necessarily for children, limericks - all were treated to Gorey's signature whimsical weirdness, always with a faint hint of benign or comical menace.

Gorey, personally, is described like this at a PBS website devoted to their Mystery series for which illustrations of his are used as introduction:

Tall and lean, Gorey was bearded, but otherwise gloriously bald. He wore earrings and used to go about in long fur coats before his conscience got the better of him and he earned the blessing of animal rights activists by shedding his furs permanently. Gorey never married and admitted to no romantic relationships. He lived by himself in a rambling home in Yarmouth on Cape Cod, that dated back nearly 200 years. When he was not working on the 100 or so projects he had outlined for himself at any given time, he cared for his brood of six cats or indulged himself in one of his many special interests, mostly sedentary pursuits like watching old movies he taped off his satellite dish or zoning out on his favorite television shows, such as The X-Files.

Though Gorey has was called a recluse, he really did not behave like one. For nearly 30 years, he attended every performance of the New York City Ballet until the death of his artistic idol, choreographer George Balanchine. He ate both breakfast and lunch each day at Jack's Out Back restaurant in Yarmouthport, where he happily signed autographs for the occasional fan.

Often mistakenly labeled as "morbid," Gorey is was in fact a rather cheerful individual, whose sharply pungent observations were laced with a ready wit. He was a superbly entertaining conversationalist who frequently enlivened a chat by humorously slipping into a falsetto voice or punctuating his remarks with a "turkey gobble" sound that one isn't likely to hear ever again.

Gorey's friend, author Alexander Theroux, wrote about him:

" Gorey was a man of very peculiar habits: "I still see myself just sitting in his kitchen. There was always a melancholy tone to his voice, and he would give you white toast with a cinnamon shaker...........He was very campy, in the Susan Sontag sense," Theroux continues. "He could also be very serious. He read every book possible. He had wide interests. There wasn't a subject that didn't interest him. I always said I wondered which Edward Gorey would show up on a given day. He was a film critic, he was interested in cooking. He was a man that would seem to be a bird of paradise, very ornate — but he could be a quiet and subdued and fairly shy person." And you wouldn't know it from looking at his drawings, but Gorey also loved soap operas, especially All My Children.

"He would sew beanbags while he watched television," Theroux says of Gorey's eclectic habits. "He went to the movies almost every night. He could segue from reading a book on Wittgenstein to watching The Golden Girls. He was curious about everything, which is a great virtue in a person. He needed to have a lot of movement in his mind, a lot of water going over the stones in his mind."

Theroux says his old friend was a true free spirit; a curious, kind and adventurous soul.
"Edward was one of the few people I ever knew who did exactly what he wanted," he says. "He went his own way."

Edward Gorey died in April, 2000.

Other sources: Wikipedia; Info please; The Comics Journal.

Please click on any image for a sharper, clearer view of it.

These are my two favourites...


Data from Astrodienst:
born on 22 February 1925 in Chicago, at 7:25 PM. (AA rating - very reliable)

What do you get when a heavily concentrated dose of Aquarius and Pisces is mixed with multiple aspect patterns linking up any stray, spread, planets harmoniously or otherwise? A weird and rather wonderful personality such as Edward Gorey!

It'd be hard to find another chart with such a strong mix of Pisces/Aquarius - his Sun and Moon conjoined, and Uranus are in Pisces. Mercury and Venus are next door in Aquarius, Venus (the arts) making semi-sextile aspect to Uranus (eccentricity). Gorey simply had to develop into some manner of creative eccentric didn't he?!

His rising sign, Virgo, has reflection in his artwork - in the meticulous hatching and detail present in a lot of his drawings.

Pluto in Cancer and Saturn in Scorpio link by harmonious trine to one or other of the Pisces planets, forming a Water Grand Trine, adding hints of a certain darkness to an established creative eccentricity.

There's a chart configuration astrologers call a "mystic rectangle" (the green oblong with red diagonal cross), and a Grand Square (the red square with red cross), both quite easy to see in the illustration. Rather than going into detail about planets and signs involved, which could take many paragraphs(and become confusing for both writer and reader), I think it's sufficient to say that his chart is so well-integrated, his personality, eccentric though it may have been, would not have been a difficult one for him to deal with - he was able to embrace it, warts and all.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tripping over yet another eclipse...

Partial Solar eclipse at 0 Scorpio coming up tomorrow! It should be visible in the United States.
A table of viewing times is HERE. In Oklahoma the eclipse should begin to be noticeable at around 4.40pm.

Everyone and their dog has already predicted, interpreted and pontificated at length on astrological implications. I'm not about to add much to the astro-chorus.

Back in 2008 I had the cheek to announce on this blog my own half-formed (more likely half-baked) theory about eclipses. They are relatively quick phenomena, I wrote, as compared to a transit of one of the outer planets : Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and even Saturn. When those planets, in transit, hit a sensitive point or planet in your natal chart you know it. They stay long enough to make waves in your life, you can recognise their presence; results are often profound. Faster moving personal planets touching a sensitive spot, are much less recognisable, if at all, in my experience. This is why I doubt that effects of an eclipse, Solar or Lunar, upon the individual are likely to be as dramatic as is sometimes supposed. Recognisable? Yes, maybe sometimes, but not life-changing.

As an old blog-buddy (R J Adams)once commented, "Or, it could just be one chunk of rock passing between another chunk of rock and a large fiery thing?" My response: Could be, RJ! But have you ever driven along a highway listening to the radio when the station fades because you passed through a tunnel or near a high hill - could be something akin to that, not exactly, just an analogy. Nobody knows, so it's as well to investigate and keep an eye on what happens, in case we might learn something.

My take on eclipses in general hasn't changed much over the past six years. An additional thought occurred today : it's very difficult to attribute stuff specifically to an eclipse unless there's nothing else at all going on in a natal (or mundane type) chart. There's never going to be a point at which "something else" in a chart could not also be seen as reflecting a change or event which could also be attributed to an eclipse. Would the same events or changes have happened had there been no eclipse ? Impossible to say.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Real Abominables #3 The Rwandan Genocide & Jean Kambanda

Rwanda, slightly smaller than Maryland, is in east-central Africa, surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. Steep mountains and deep valleys cover most of the country.

The area was once the home of the Twa, a Pygmy race, but though still present they make up only 1% of Rwanda's population. The Hutu and Tutsi tribes make up most of the remaining population. They are often considered ethnically separate, through intermarriage has led to much sharing of cultures. Traditionally the Hutu were farmers of the land, while the Tutsi raised cattle, and in many cases had become somewhat wealthier than the farmers.

The Hutus settled in the general area between 500 and 1000 B.C. the Tutsis (also known as Watutsis), a nomadic people, arrived from Ethiopia some 400 years ago, settled among the Hutus adopting many of their customs, beliefs and language.

Rwanda became a part of German East Africa in 1890. It was first visited by European explorers in 1854. During World War I, in 1916, it was occupied by Belgian troops. After the war, it became a Belgian League of Nations mandate, along with Burundi, under the name of Ruanda-Urundi.

Belgian leaders forced Hutus and Tutsis to carry ethnic identity cards, something which exacerbated divisions; they allowed Tutsis to attain higher education and hold positions of power, thus maintaining Tutsi dominance. Eventually they did encourage power sharing between Hutu and Tutsi. Ethnic tension led to civil war, forcing many Tutsi into exile. When Rwanda became an independent nation on July 1, 1962, it was under Hutu rule.

The Hutu majority lashed out at the minority Tutsis – killing thousands and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring Uganda.

In Oct. 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Tutsi rebels in exile in Uganda, invaded in an attempt to overthrow the Hutu-led Rwandan government. Peace accords were signed in Aug. 1993, calling for a coalition government. But after the downing of a plane in April 1994 killing presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi, deep-seated ethnic violence erupted.

From United Human Rights Council website

On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying President Habyarimana, a Hutu, was shot down. Violence began almost immediately after that. Under the cover of war, Hutu extremists launched their plans to destroy the entire Tutsi civilian population. Political leaders who might have been able to take charge of the situation and other high profile opponents of the Hutu extremist plans were killed immediately. Tutsi and people suspected of being Tutsi were killed in their homes and as they tried to flee at roadblocks set up across the country during the genocide. Entire families were killed at a time. Women were systematically and brutally raped. It is estimated that some 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the Rwandan genocide.

In the weeks after April 6, 1994, 800,000 men, women, and children perished in the Rwandan genocide, perhaps as many as three quarters of the Tutsi population. At the same time, thousands of Hutu were murdered because they opposed the killing campaign and the forces directing it.

The Rwandan genocide resulted from the conscious choice of the elite to promote hatred and fear to keep itself in power. This small, privileged group first set the majority against the minority to counter a growing political opposition within Rwanda. Then, faced with RPF success on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, these few power holders transformed the strategy of ethnic division into genocide. They believed that the extermination campaign would reinstate the solidarity of the Hutu under their leadership and help them win the war, or at least improve their chances of negotiating a favorable peace. They seized control of the state and used its authority to carry out the massacre.

The civil war and genocide only ended when the Tutsi-dominated rebel group, the RPF, defeated the Hutu perpetrator regime and President Paul Kagame took control.

Although the Rwandans are fully responsible for the organization and execution of the genocide, governments and peoples elsewhere all share in the shame of the crime because they failed to prevent and stop this killing campaign.

Although the genocidal slaughter seemed a spontaneous eruption of hatred, it has in fact been shown to have been carefully orchestrated by the Hutu government.

In the aftermath of the genocide, an estimated 1.7 million Hutu fled across the border into neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Although Tutsi rebels took control of the government, they permitted a Hutu, Pasteur Bizimungu, to serve as president, attempting to deflect accusations of a resurgence in Tutsi elitism and to foster national unity. Paul Kagame, the Tutsi rebel leader, became vice president and éminence grise (advisor).

Refugee problems, continued massacres, and the horrific legacy of genocide continued to haunt the national psyche. In Sept. 1998, a UN tribunal sentenced Jean Kambanda, a former prime minister of Rwanda, to life in prison for his part in the 1994 genocide. He became the first person in history to be convicted for the crime of genocide, first defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention after World War II. By 2001, eight others had also been convicted of the same charge. The UN tribunal, however, was criticized for its inefficiency and slow pace. In Dec. 1999, an independent report, commissioned by the UN, took Kofi Annan and other UN officials to task for not intervening effectively in the genocide.

 Jean Kambanda was Prime Minister in the caretaker government of Rwanda from the start of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He is the only head of government to plead guilty to genocide, in the first group of such convictions since the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide came into effect in 1951.

Kambanda holds a degree in commercial engineering, but his career was in banking. At the time of the April 1994 crisis he was vice president of the Butare section of the opposition Democratic Republican Movement (MDR).

He was sworn in as prime minister on April 9, 1994 after the President, Juvénal Habyarimana, and a former Prime Minister, were assassinated. The opposition MDR had been promised the prime ministerial post in the transitional government established by the Arusha accords, but Kambanda leapfrogged several levels in the party's hierarchy to take the job from the initial choice. He remained in the post for the hundred days of the genocide until July 19, 1994. After leaving office he fled the country.

On September 4, 1998, the ICTR (International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda) condemned Jean Kambanda to life imprisonment for:
Genocide, and Agreement to commit genocide
Public and direct incitation to commit genocide
Aiding and abetting genocide
Failing in his duty to prevent the genocide which occurred while he was prime minister
Two counts of crimes against humanity

This verdict was upheld by the ICTR Appeal Chamber on October 19, 2000, and Kambanda is currently jailed in Mali.

Sources ~
PBS; Infoplease; Infoplease; Wikipedia


First: Wikipedia appears to have the wrong date of birth for Jean Kambanda. The record of the sentencing hearing states 10 Oct 1955 - not 19th October.

See HERE. See also HERE.

Jean Kambanda, born 10 October 1955 in the Prefecture of Botare, Rwanda. Chart is set for 12 noon - time of birth unknown.

This is another chart where all natal planets are clustered within the span of just a few signs. This is usually thought to indicate a personality with sharp focus on particular aims and ambitions.

The signs emphasised are somewhat surprising - Kambanda is another who could be labelled "not yer textbook Libra-type" as was Irma Grese in a post here. He has Sun, Mercury, Venus and Neptune all in the sign astrology depicts as a set of scales, signifying balance, negotiation, tact, diplomacy - all that good stuff. What went wrong in Kambanda's case? His natal Jupiter (excess) conjunction with Pluto (darkness, death) in Leo is a definite suspect, especially as the conjunction lies in sextile aspect to three of his Libra planets, drawing in at least some of the dark significance in stark contrast to everything Libra usually stands for.

His Leo planets (probably including Moon) clearly represent his talent and ambition for a position of leadership. The fact that Kambanda pleaded guilty to genocide, does reflect, albeit in a very unfortunate way, both Leo leadership (in his willingness to accept responsibility), and an all-but buried Libra-based sense of right and wrong.

So far, in the few charts of The Real Abominables explored, Pluto well-integrated and conjoining personal planets is a common feature; bundled/clustered chart configuration is emerging as being significant too, but more charts needed - early days!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday's Mouthwatering Memories

I often get to thinking about some of the dishes my grandmother used to prepare, especially the desserts - or as we called 'em "puddings". Her mother, my great grandmother, had taught her to cook. Great grandmother had been a cook for the owners and workers at a large Yorkshire farm, her talent, among the family anyway, was legendary. She would have had easy access to the best of everything, all fresh and grown, reared or preserved "on the spot". Not that good ingredients are all that's needed - a little "magic" helps too.

My grandmother must have been a good student. She also had access to good quality ingredients, living as she did in a tiny rural village, farms all around, with her own and neighbours' large gardens providing vegetables and fruits; berries were abundant in the hedgerows at certain times of the year, wild blackberries/brambles, wild raspberries. Strawberry fields were just down the road, where villagers could "pick their own" . Some village people kept chickens, some kept, or shared the upkeep of a couple of pigs.

 Something like this

For most of her life, Grandma had no fridge, no gas or electric stove. She cooked using the small oven at one side of the huge black fireplace, heated by the coal fire in the hearth. At the other side was a container for water, also heated by the fire. The big fireplace had to be "black-leaded" regularly to keep it shining. During the few weeks, or days, of the year when it was too hot for a fire, a minimum of cooking was done, using an oil stove, sometimes two, in the "wash-house" in the yard. She knew her coal-fired oven so intimately that she could gauge the required heat just by "feel", even for such delicacies as Yorkshire Pudding which can stand or fall (literally) by cooking in the wrong heat.

I've digressed. I'd meant to write about some favourite remembered desserts.

Grandma often made what she called "Egg Pudding". I've never seen it on any menu or in any cookbook. It has, I suppose, to be a near relation of Yorkshire Pudding. It was an egg, milk and flour thick batter wrapped in a cloth, to form a big round ball, then boiled (I think - or steamed?) in the cloth, in a pan of water. When ready it was unwrapped, cut open and a huge piece of fresh farm butter and lots of sugar inserted before sharing among mouthwatering diners.

Her classic Yorkshire puddings were superb. On Sunday the big "Yorkshire", baked in a special rectangular tin, was served first, before the main course, with lovely gravy made from juices of the joint of beef. Sometimes there'd be thinly sliced cucumber in vinegar as an accompaniment. Grandma would certainly never entertain those, now popular, silly little individual Yorkshire puds! If there was ever any pud left over it would be eaten eagerly with butter and sugar later.

Apple suet dumpling was another favourite dessert when visiting Grandma: sliced apples from local trees sweetened and wrapped in a cloak of suet pastry (something I've not tasted for many decades) then, not baked, but again, boiled in a cloth. Scrumptious with copious amounts of custard. I've always loved a good vanilla custard!

At blackberry time, her "bramble cake" was always a family favourite. We'd go picking the berries, bring them back to her and within an hour or so the "cake" would be ready. It was a kind of pie, but instead of being baked in a tin, a circle of pastry was simply wrapped around the brambles and sealed with egg and milk, placed on a flat tray on the oven shelf. When ready, a piece was cut from the top of the "cake" and a lump of fresh butter inserted.

Around this time of year Grandma always made some special ginger bread, known in some circles as Yorkshire Parkin; hers was lovely and moist, rich, and baked in a big square tin, then cut into small squares. It went down a treat while watching the bonfires and fireworks of Guy Fawkes night: November 5th.

Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings were always made weeks, maybe months before the event. Very rich, moist fruit cake, lovingly wrapped in cloths, stored in the front room sideboard, fed regularly with rum, brandy or whisky, whichever was to hand, injecting same with a sterilised knitting needle.
Almond paste covering and sugar icing came much later.

A favourite for all seasons, for me, was her chocolate cake...yummm...what can I say? Hers was of a texture colour and flavour I haven't found anywhere else since, and I've always been searching!

These thoughts are likely to put an inch on my waistline! Does any passing reader have good memories to share of deliciousnesses from their youth or childhood?

Saturday, October 18, 2014


This week we watched a DVD of Parts 1 and 2 of the TV miniseries, Labyrinth, an adaptation of a well-received 2005 novel, same title, by Kate Mosse. The miniseries was shown on the CW channel in the US earlier this year, in Canada, Europe, UK and elsewhere in 2012/13.

I had somehow picked up the idea that time travel was involved in the tale, so was eager to see the TV film version. I was wrong about time travel, there wasn't any - or not in the way I'd expected. The tale alternates between 13th century Carcassonne, a fortified town in Languedoc, in the southern part of France, and modern day Carcassonne.

As the presentation begins we're given some information about Carcassonne, and the Cathars

.....a goosebump arose during the following shot (no image available), when a word that has haunted this blog recently - "genocide" is mentioned. I was not expecting that!

The film begins in present-day France. A young woman, Dr. Alice Tanner, is visiting Carcassonne to deal with a bequest to her from an aunt who had lived in the town. During the vacation Alice had volunteered to work on a local archeological dig. She finds a rusty piece of ancient jewellery among the rubble; then, some minor earth tremors seem to disorient her. She, unwisely, wanders into a nearby hidden cave, discovers three skeletons, and and a ring carrying a labyrinth design. On the wall of the cave she finds inscribed the words "PAS à PAS" (step by step). Stunned, she leaves the cave only to run into a vision of fires surrounding the area, women in strange clothing all running into the flames, one woman holding aloft what appears to be a book.

That was just for hors d'oeuvre, the credits now appear.

I don't remember the order in which events unfold, but enough to say that there's some very dodgy and dangerous business going on in both present day, and 1209 Carcassonne. It's all because of that yawn-inducing element, popular in so many books and films: The Holy Grail! Even the Monty Pythons had a go at The Grail, long ago!

Alice Tanner, it turns out, has some ancestral connection to a young herbalist and healer, a noblewoman who lived in 1209 Carcassonne, her name: Alais. Alais had an evil sister, Oriane (there's always an evil sister isn't there?) Alice continues to experience flashes of visions of events from 1209. The story proceeds very slowly, as we try to untangle hints dropped, not very casually, here and there. The Holy Grail, it seems, in this story anyway, isn't a chalice but a set of three books of very ancient secrets: Book of Words, Book of Numbers and Book of Potions, kept safe throughout many centuries by three guardians. However, by the end of the film we've also been told, by an extremely long-lived and wise Audric Baillard (John Hurt's character), that The Grail isn't the books at all. So....all premises kind of collapsed in a heap, and left us utterly confused.

I didn't hate the film, but thought it could have been done better. I felt no enthusiasm to read the novel. I remarked to husband that, if the film had been made maybe thirty years or so ago, it'd have likely been a much better representation of the story told by the novel - but that'd be an impossibility - the novel hadn't been written then! I got the feeling that the 1209 scenes, beautifully scenic and dramatic as most were, fell down somewhat when it came to representation of the 1209 characters, and general tone of the dialogue in those scenes. It seemed, to me, as though sensibilities hadn't shifted much from 1209 to 2014.

I'll not say more about plot detail, other than that the story did encourage me to search around for further information on the Cathars, whose beliefs were at the heart of all the troubles involved in the Labyrinthe's theme.

Cathars were extremely unpopular with the Pope of 1209, and with the Roman Catholic church in general - so unpopular that the Pope initiated a crusade to wipe out the whole culture (another example of genocide). Not only did Cathar beliefs undermine Roman Catholic doctrines, the Cathars refused to pay tithes to the RC church - and that was enough to get the Pope hoppin' mad -because as we know, it was, and is, always about the money - and the control.

For any passing reader interested, here's a link to a set of information pages on Cathars and related subjects. I've borrowed the first few paras:

Catharism and the Cathars of the Languedoc

Did this peace-loving Gnostic Christian sect hold important secrets before they were exterminated by the Roman Catholic Church, its Crusaders and its Inquisitors ?

The Cathars were a religious group who appeared in Europe in the eleventh century, their beliefs something of a mystery. Records from the Roman Church mention them under various names and in various places, occasionally throwing light on basic beliefs The Roman Church debated with itself whether they were Christian heretics or whether they were not Christians at all. In the Languedoc, famous at the time for its high culture, tolerance and liberalism, Catharism took root and gained more and more adherents during the twelfth century. By the early thirteenth century it was probably the majority religion in the area, supported by the nobility as well as the common people. This was too much for the Roman Church, some of whose own priests had become Cathars. Worst of all, Cathars refused to pay their tithes.

Innocent III, called a formal crusade, appointing a series of leaders, to head his holy army. There followed over forty years of war against the indigenous population. During this period, some 600,000 men women and children were massacred; the Counts of Toulouse, their vassals were dispossessed and humiliated, and their lands annexed to France. Educated and tolerant rulers were replaced by relative barbarians; the Dominican Order was founded and the Inquisition, was established to wipe out the last vestiges of resistance; persecutions of Jews and other minorities were initiated; the height culture of the Troubadours was lost; lay learning was discouraged; tithes were enforced; the Languedoc started its economic decline, and the language of the area, Occitan started its descent from one of the foremost languages in Europe to a regional dialect.

At the end of the extirpation of the Cathars, the Church had convincing proof that a sustained campaign of genocide can work. It also had the precedent of an internal Crusade within Christendom, and the machinery of the first police state. This crusade was one of the greatest disasters ever to befall Europe. Catharism is often said to have been completely eradicated by the end of the fourteenth century. Yet there are more than a few vestiges even today, apart from the enduring memory of their martyrdom and the ruins of the famous castles. There are even people claiming to be modern Cathars.