Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Time and space are never going to make any kind of sense....." (Dr. Who)

The last couple of blog posts had a common theme: time. As I appear to be in a time rut of sorts, I shall go back in time myself, blog-wise, to pull out four links to posts I still find to be food for thought. These formed a brief series posted in 2012, and relate to stories of time slips. There's ample room for skepticism, and yet....and yet...

"A place where there's no space or time"? #Time Slip #1

"Funny how time slips away" ? Time Slip #2

"The last time I saw Paris"? Time Slip #3

As "As time goes by" ? Time Slips #4~ Britain

Monday, July 30, 2018

Music Monday ~ Time's Habit of Slip Slidin'

Following the weekend's thoughts on problems of time, quite coincidentally, I saw a question at Quora which creates a kind of musical sequel:

How do the first two verses of Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away" support his premise that "the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away"?

An answer by Eamon O'Kelly (whose tag line is "You don't really care for music, do ya?")
both enlightened and confused me. He answered:

Because Paul Simon chose to illustrate Zeno’s Paradox through the medium of song.

Mr O'Kelly also provided a link about Zeno's Paradox which confused me even more, so I'll replace it with a Wikipedia page - which doesn't help me much further but is an easier read.

Best thing I can do, because it's Music Monday is to play the song!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Problems of Time

"The problem of time may be easy to solve if we go back to the original concept of sun moving across the sky. When we measure the speed of a car, we are just comparing its motion to the motion of the hands of the clock and also indirectly to the fractional motion of sun across the sky. We are not measuring speed with something abstract called time we are just comparing a known motion (of the sun) with an unknown motion of the car."

"Aside from Velcro, time is the most mysterious substance in the universe. You can't see it or touch it, yet a plumber can charge you upwards of seventy-five dollars per hour for it, without necessarily fixing anything."
~ Dave Barry

"Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you."
~ Terry Pratchett, "Small Gods"

"If you act like you've only got fifteen minutes, it will take all day. Act like you've got all day, it will take fifteen minutes.”
~ Monty Roberts

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”
~ Omar Khayyám

"Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change."
~ Thomas Hardy

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."
~Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"

"It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up."
~ J.K. Rowling

Friday, July 27, 2018

Arty Farty Friday Fusion

I set myself a challenge this week: to combine quotes, from some of the late, great Terry Pratchett's novels, each to an apt famous painting - an arty fusion - hopefully not confusion! I came up with the following:

"He knew in his heart that spinning upside down around a pole wearing a costume you could floss with definitely was not Art, and being painted lying on a bed wearing nothing but a smile and a small bunch of grapes was good solid Art, but putting your finger on why this was the case was a bit tricky." ("Thud")

"Reclining Nude, Head Resting on Right Arm (also known as Nude on a Couch)"
Amedeo Modigliani. [Note - I think she'd eaten the grapes!]

Everyone knew that stars were points of light. If they weren’t, some would be visibly bigger than others. Some were fainter than others, of course, but that was probably due to clouds. In any case their purpose, according to established Discworld law, was to lend a little style to the night. (The Science of Discworld)

Y'all know this one! Vincent's Starry Night.

There are the Brothers of Cool, a reserved and secretive sect which believes that only through ultimate coolness can the universe be comprehended, and that black works with everything, and that chrome will never truly go out of style.(Thief of Time)

Billy Boys by Jack Vettriano

.. he knew how to soothe, but he also knew when to twinkle and - more importantly perhaps - he also knew when not to twinkle. (The Science of Discworld IV: Judgement Day)

The Laughing Cavalier by Franz Hals

She looked like the kind of person who asked questions. And her hair was too red and her nose was too long. And she wore a long black dress with black lace fringing. No good comes of that sort of thing.
(The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.)

Miranda (The Tempest) by John William Waterhouse

She was, of course, beautiful. You seldom saw a goddess portrayed as ugly. This probably had something to do with their ability to strike people down instantly. (Unseen Academicals)

Pallas and the Centaur
by Botticelli
(Pallas Athena was goddess of wisdom, strategic-war and, rather oddly, weaving - in Greek mythology).

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Technology & Dependence

Here's another of Ian Lang's excellent answers at Quora, borrowed with his kind (blanket) permission. The question here was:

What are the ramifications of being so dependent on technology?

Ian Lang, Leading Technician, wrote:
Quite soon in the future we are going to find out because we are sleepwalking our way to an energy crisis. I’m probably going to be good and dead before it bites but I’m fairly sure that some people already born are going to suffer it.

We depend on electrical or electronics for everything, from waking us up in the morning to making our breakfasts. Unless it’s a diesel vehicle we even depend upon a battery for our transport, and even if it is a diesel we use an electric starter. It carries on like this all day; hardly anything we do now doesn’t involve severely inconveniencing electrons.

We need nuclear power stations but the organic-carrot-scoffing hippies rear up and say “nope” at that and for some reason that I can’t fathom we listen to them, unless we’re French, in which case we produce seventy-seven per cent of our energy from nukes and say “allez-vous faire foutre, porteur de sandales” for which you’ve got to admire them. (Hey! must be mellowing in my old age - I’ve just said something nice about the French! =| )

Even if the beardy-weirdies do come up with some non-magical way of generating energy that technicians can make, there’s still the possibility of another Carrington Event happening. If you don’t know what that is, look it up and be afraid. Be very afraid.

If we keep on thinking that an app will solve everything then we’re doomed. We’ll lose all the old mechanical and human skills (how many can read a map and compass in the age of Sat-Navs?) and won’t know what to do when the electron-juice dries up. As I said, I’ll probably be good and dead and won’t give a monkey’s. But there’s a good chance that my niece might see the beginnings of it. That’s why I’m teaching her to do things with proper basic tools. You never know.
About that "Carrington Event" - see Solar storm of 1859

The solar storm of 1859 (also known as the Carrington Event)[1] was a powerful geomagnetic solar storm during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867). A solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetosphere and induced one of the largest geomagnetic storms on record, September 1–2, 1859.......
A solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would cause widespread disruptions and damage due to extended outages of the electrical grid.[2][3] The solar storm of 2012 was of similar magnitude, but it passed Earth's orbit without striking the planet.

Lesson to be learned - As Graham Nash once wrote in song lyrics:
"Teach your children well!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Poetry & War

I notice that today, 24 July, was the birthday of
Robert Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985), an English poet, historical novelist, critic, and classicist.

[Robert Graves] developed an early reputation as a war poet and was one of the first to write realistic poems about the experience of front line conflict. In later years, he omitted his war poems from his collections, on the grounds that they were too obviously "part of the war poetry boom." At the Battle of the Somme, he was so badly wounded by a shell-fragment through the lung that he was expected to die and was officially reported as having died of wounds. He gradually recovered and, apart from a brief spell back in France, spent the remainder of the war in England.
Graves, however, didn't remain one of the better known World War 1 poets such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, or Siegfried Sassoon (his close friend).

The Poets of World War 1 formed part of our high school syllabus in English Literature - back in the 1950s. I have faded memories of some of their works and histories. Looking back, it seems like a rather depressing study for young women to have undertaken, but as World War 2 was still fresh in memories of both students and teachers - and even World War 1 was recalled by some of the older ladies teaching us, I suppose it was no bad thing that the horrors of war be etched deeply into our subconscious minds.

Here are three of Robert Graves' war poems.

Hate Not - Fear Not

Kill if you must, but never hate:
Man is but grass and hate is blight,
The sun will scorch you soon or late,
Die wholesome then, since you must fight.

Hate is a fear, and fear is rot
That cankers root and fruit alike,
Fight cleanly then, hate not, fear not,
Strike with no madness when you strike.

Fever and fear distract the world,
But calm be you though madmen shout,
Through blazing fires of battle hurled,
Hate not, strike, fear not, stare Death out!

Give Us Rain

'Give us Rain, Rain,' said the bean and the pea,
'Not so much Sun,
Not so much Sun.'
But the Sun smiles bravely and encouragingly,
And no rain falls and no waters run.

'Give us Peace, Peace,' said the peoples oppressed,
'Not so many Flags,
Not so many Flags.'
But the Flags fly and the Drums beat, denying rest,
And the children starve, they shiver in rags.


I’ve watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow,
In the fields between La Bassée and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,
August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you’ve been everything.

Dear, you’ve been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches — pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
Beautiful comrade-looks,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that’s good.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Music Monday ~ A Choice

Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
by Paul Atwood
...The drumbeat is incessant and appears to have won most of the public to the faith that Russia is our mortal enemy again and a dire threat to our security. The lesson all should have learned in the wake of the missile crisis has been deep-sixed so long that few citizens today understand how our deliberately overwrought relations with the Soviets during the Cold War brought us within an eyelash width of nuclear holocaust. As many who were embedded in the national security state during those fraught years, like Daniel Ellsberg and former Defense Secretary William Perry and many others, have admonished us lately we are now in circumstances every bit as perilous as the darkest days of the Cold War. We have utterly forgotten the fact that the intense and growing extreme nationalism that is overtaking the planet is precisely the social virus that promoted two global wars in the last century.

Final paragraphs:
I personally hold Donald trump in contempt for many of the obvious reasons. Given everything he has supported since appearing on the political scene he seems the least-likely president to seek genuine rapprochement either with North Korea or Russia. Yet he is also ramping up conflict with Iran and supports the criminal war by Saudi Arabia against Yemen, the poorest and perhaps most ravaged nation on the planet. Still I cannot but support his attempt to find some way to reduce and stop the growing tensions with Russia and so should every sane American and demand key actions for a more peaceful world before events run out of control. Trump’s emphasis on reducing the threat of nuclear war and of shrinking the military spending that is bankrupting the U.S. by seeking some solid non-hostile relationship with Russia is astonishingly the sanest argument to come out of Washington, perhaps ever. Sanity exists in Russia too. I would fervently hope too that we can perceive that a growing antagonism toward China bodes ill as well.

But we must beware! The Hawks and the vultures are circling.

On Music Monday, what else is there to say but.....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Magical Scorpionic Words

With the content of Thursday's post touching on war and peace still skidding around in my mind, for this weekend I delved into the archives and pulled out this (now lightly edited) post from 2008. I love to read the words of the two featured writers, even though they bring tears to my eyes.

When someone with a good dollop of Scorpio in their natal chart writes, a certain magic seeps through. Two examples of such writers, never far from the top layers of my memory, are Carl Sagan and Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich doesn't have Sun in Scorpio (it's in Libra) but he has Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Venus there. Carl Sagan had Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in Scorpio.

Dennis Kucinich's "Spirit and Stardust" speech from June 2002 is a good example. Barack Obama was lauded for his inspiring speeches, which were probably written by a team of script writers - I'd bet a large amount of money that Dennis Kucinich wrote every word of "Spirit and Stardust" himself. Remember the movie "Crocodile Dundee"? When Dundee (Paul Hogan) was approached by a mugger with a knife, he reached for his own jumbo-sized knife and brandishing it said "That's not a knife - THIS is a knife". Well - Obama's aren't speeches - this is a speech! It can be read in full HERE. Below are brief snips from it:

Feel the magic...

"As one studies the images of the Eagle Nebula, brought back by the Hubble Telescope from that place in deep space where stars are born, one can imagine the interplay of cosmic forces across space and time, of matter and spirit dancing to the music of the spheres, atop an infinite sea of numbers.

Spirit merges with matter to sanctify the universe. Matter transcends to return to spirit. The interchangeability of matter and spirit means the starlit magic of the outermost life of our universe becomes the soul-light magic of the innermost life of our self. The energy of the stars becomes us. We become the energy of the stars. Stardust and spirit unite and we begin: One with the universe. Whole and holy. From one source, endless creative energy, bursting forth, kinetic, elemental. We, the earth, air, water and fire-source of nearly fifteen billion years of cosmic

We begin as a perfect union of matter and spirit

We need to remember where we came from; to know that we are one. To understand that we are of an undivided whole: race, color, nationality, creed, gender are beams of light, refracted through one great prism.... We become conscious of the cosmos within us. We hear the music of peace, we hear the music of cooperation, we hear music of love....

Our leaders think the unthinkable and speak of the unspeakable inevitability of nuclear war; of a nuclear attack on New York City, of terrorist attacks throughout our nation; of war against Iraq [in 2018, for Iraq read Russia] using nuclear weapons; of biological and chemical weapon attacks on civilian populations; of catastrophic global climate change; of war in outer space. When death (not life) becomes inevitable, we are presented with an opportunity for great clarity, for a great awakening, to rescue the human spirit from the arms of Morpheus through love, through compassion and through integrating spiritual vision and active citizenship to restore peace to our world....

Our vision of interconnectedness resonates with new networks of world citizens in nongovernmental organizations linking from numberless centers of energy, expressing the emergence of a new organic whole, seeking unity within and across national lines........

I have seen groups of people overcome incredible odds as they become aware they are participating in a cause beyond self and sense the movement of the inexorable which comes from unity. When you feel this principle at work, when you see spiritual principles form the basis of active citizenship, you are reminded once again of the merging of stardust and spirit. There is creativity. There is magic. There is alchemy."

And from Carl Sagan's masterwork, "COSMOS"

"For most of human history we have searched for our place in the cosmos. Who are we? What are we? We find that we inhabit an insignificant planet of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. This perspective is a courageous continuation of our penchant for constructing and testing mental models of the skies; the Sun as a red-hot stone, the stars as a celestial flame, the Galaxy as the backbone of night.
Page 193
National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars. There are not yet obvious signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, and this makes us wonder whether civilizations like ours rush inevitably headlong to self-destruction. I dream about it, and sometimes they're bad dreams.
Page 318
We have heard the rationales offered by the nuclear superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?
Page 329
If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.
Page 339
We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands. The loom of time and space works the most astonishing transformations of matter. "

Friday, July 20, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ "Nanu"

This is fun!
Famous Artists Depicted As Animals In Art History In Series Of Humorous Illustrations

The artists illustrated by Krishna "Nanu" Chavda cover more genres than painters, but for Arty Farty Friday I've borrowed a trio of painters as samples - do go see the rest!
Chavda’s imagination is so wild, she sees famous artists in animals. She has created a series of 10 illustrations based on either a self-portrait of an artist, one of their artworks, or the artists’ art-making techniques.
The artist, Krishna Chavda, originally from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, spent much of her time as a child drawing or building something from paper with tape and staples. In 2011, she earned her MFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

The artist's own website is HERE.

Note: My own archived post on Keith Haring is HERE.

Note: One of my own archived posts on Jackson Pollock is HERE.

Note: I could've sworn I'd done a post on Leonardo, but if I did, it's lost, sunk without trace! Here's a mention in one of my posts, of another artist who has written and illustrated a book about the great Leonardo:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Warmongering Media

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. I will not make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, the media, or Democrats who want to resist and obstruct.” ~ Donald Trump.

“Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!”
Tweet by Donald Trump.

In the sidebar of this blog, if one scrolls right down, there's a small illustration declaring: "Blog Peace". Honouring it, I'm linking to a recent article and comments. The article is by Norman Solomon:

Climb Down From the Summit of Hostile Propaganda.

In Mr Solomon's 2nd and 3rd paragraphs he writes
Contempt for diplomacy with Russia is now extreme. Mainline U.S. journalists and top Democrats often bait President Trump in zero-sum terms. No doubt Hillary Clinton thought she was sending out an applause line in her tweet Sunday night: “Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?”

A bellicose stance toward Russia has become so routine and widespread that we might not give it a second thought — and that makes it all the more hazardous. After President George W. Bush declared “You’re either with us or against us,” many Americans gradually realized what was wrong with a Manichean view of the world. Such an outlook is even more dangerous today.

Please do go and read the article - it's not arduously long, and makes many good points - as do some of the comments beneath it.

A comment by Joe Tedesky particularly hit home for me:

It’s apparent that there are many Americans who neither fear war, or they believe that war will never happen, and this I truly believe is a result of these Americans having never experienced war first hand. It’s all an imaginary threat if it’s anything at all. Why any war that is to be will not be fought here, because we fight them over there. Lastly America is the sole super power, and everybody knows that, so where’s the worry?

Reflecting back on the sixties when Left Wing meant peace marches, and advocating for peace, is now a distance memory of a mass ideology which helped to wing down the Vietnam war. Back then these anti-war protesters were all we had to beat down the warmongering DC mindset. The peace advocate of the sixties was determined to bring peace to the world. The music of its era reflects this mindset. Maybe we should have a national oldies day, and try and catch that spirit again… Joanne Mitchell, Richie Havens, anyone?

If you had told me some fifty years ago that the Left would someday be the purveyors of war instigation, I would not have believed you, but turning points and the truth often don’t reconcile in a society gone mad.

I'm a (naturalised) American who has experienced war first hand - albeit when I was very young, back in England. I came into a world on the brink of war - World War 2. I sincerely hope not to go out of this world on the brink of (or in the midst of) another, even more horrendous war between the two greatest nuclear powers on the planet.

From Mike K

There is certainly a lot that is terribly wrong with Donald Trump’s policies, but this does not justify the totally illegal and immoral attempt to unseat him on the basis of a bunch of concocted lies. Some of us are called upon to hold our noses, while defending Trump and the office of the Presidency from unconstitutional fascist style attacks. The ugly warmongering being used to attack Trump constitutes a clear and present danger that must be countered to preserve our very existence.

When forces within our society are willing to risk the extinction of humanity for narrow political and economic gain, it is time for us to wake up and call a halt to this madness.

Another excellent, much longer, detailed piece on the same website is by Joe Lauria:

US Media is Losing Its Mind Over Trump-Putin Press Conference

The reaction of the U.S. establishment media and several political leaders to President Donald Trump’s press conference after his summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday has been stunning.

This comment by "Banger" is noteworthy:

It’s just over for those of us on the old left. The Orwellian nature of the media has taken hold and we are powerless against it. We have a population utterly uncurious of facts or history, logic or science, rationality or erudition. It’s over. People want to belong, want to share their anger at whatever enemy there is no matter how ludicrous is that threat from the enemy. This is how the oligarch has decided to use Trump’s election–first to divide us on tribal grounds and second to invent some enemy that uses all the mythology of Hollywood villains with Russian accents. It’s working and it means the oligarchs are unassailable and now are able to control public opinion with a bunch of gestures on the screen and the population will bark on command. Goebbels is, somewhere, cackling with delight.

We will be lucky if we avoid war, fortunately the professional military understands the situation much better than the civilian leaders and have put brakes on our drift into permanent major war everywhere.

Let us hope fervently that "Banger's" final paragraph proves to be correct.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Law & Order SVU's Smart Casting

In these days of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu and so on, we can have police procedurals, detective series, and law court oriented dramas coming out of our ears! They do tend to become wearying at times. One such, a long-established TV series, also available for streaming, never gets old for us: Law and Order SVU.

The pairing in SVU of Benson and Stabler (played to perfection by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni) had a lot to do with the original attraction. When Stabler left the show we wondered whether it'd die a gradual death, at least on our own viewing schedule - it didn't! We still watch episodes of the series both on the USA channel, where re-runs are common, as well an occasional 'live' episode on NBC, or on whichever streaming source is offering 'em. For us, SVU is the only TV series with the "it never gets old" accolade.

I recently read the following pieces of trivia, but interesting trivia, about Law and Order SVU. See more in the whole piece at screenrant.com HERE

Hargitay & Meloni’s Chemistry was Instantaneous, even at Their Audition

Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay met for the first time at their audition. The final casting call was down to three women (Hargitay, Reiko Aylesoworth, and Samantha Mathis) and three men (Meloni, Tim Matheson, and Nick Chinlund). Hargitay had heard that a friend-of-a-friend would be among them, so she walked in, saw Meloni, who she didn't know, and assumed that he was the guy. She shouted the actor's name, and Meloni stood up and shouted his own name instead, in fake recognition. Since she was already standing, they ended up in a huge hug, despite having never met before.

She noticed the big tattoo on his arm of Jesus on the cross, and asked, hopefully, if he was a Christian. When he said no, she asked why he had the tattoo. "Just liked his commitment," he told her.

They auditioned individually, and then the casting directors started pairing up the finalists. Hargitay crossed her fingers, and knew as soon as they said, "Mariska and Chris" that they were going to make magic. So did producers; as soon as the actors all left, no debate was needed. They'd found their stars...

SVU is currently in its 18th season, and while Chris Meloni isn't on the show anymore, he's still tight with former co-star Mariska Hargitay. She's the godmother to one of his children, and they recently got together and posted a selfie on Instagram, making fans drool at the possibility that Stabler might one day make his way back to the show. Fingers crossed!


What about the astrology of this pair of actors? I'd already spotted that Ms Hargitay and I share a Sun sign in early Aquarius ( - see this archived post), but I've never posted her chart, nor have I looked into Chris Meloni's astrology until now. So....

Mariska Hargitay, born 23 January 1964 in Santa Monica, California, at 5.58 AM

Christopher Meloni born on 2 April 1961 in Washington DC, at 1.52 AM

Alrighty then...not far to seek for the key ingredients linking these two charts and these two personalities! His natal Sun at 12 Aries conjoins her natal Jupiter at 13 Aries; Her Sun and Mars at 2 and 8 degrees of Aquarius respectively, conjoin his Jupiter at 2 Aquarius, with natal Saturn conjoined, over the cusp from 28 Capricorn.

Natal Jupiter would appear to be key here to the 'chemistry' between the two actors. Additionally, in Ms Hargitay's chart there are 2 Yods (Fingers of Fate) involving Jupiter. One Yod links generational Neptune to generational Uranus/Pluto by sextile, then links both to natal Jupiter via two 150 degree angles known as quincunxes. The other Yod links Jupiter to Mars by sextile and both to generational Uranus by quincunx. What does all of that mean? "Proper" astrologers might differ, but I see it as more evidence that Jupiter (expansion, abundance, generosity, publication - of which acting is a form) is a strong "vibe" in her personality. Chris Meloni's Jupiter lay in his first house of self at time of birth, which puts Jupiter (along with Saturn (matters relating to the law) in the front seat of his personality too.

A passing thought unrelated to the TV series: my husband, anyjazz, has Sun in Aries (like Chris) and I have Sun in early Aquarius (like Mariska) - we gelled immediately too. His natal Jupiter at 23 Capricorn conjoins my Mercury at 21 Capricorn! My natal Jupiter at 6 Aquarius is close enough to his natal Sun at 1 Aries to be termed conjunct. Hmm! Yet many would still say astrology is nothing but rubbish!!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Music Monday ~ The Poetry of It

Country music may be an acquired taste, I know that it is viewed with a certain disdain by some so-called liberals in the USA, perhaps due to the genre's connection to a perceived (rightly or wrongly) right-wing political flavour. I'm not a 'liberal', I suppose my label, if I must have a label, would be 'lefty', but I've loved country music from my first introduction to it in the late 1990s, back in Europe - not in the UK, but in the Canary Islands. There, of course, country music didn't have the taint of politics attached, so I experienced it clean and unadulterated.

What brought on that rantette? Well, I caught a few bars of a well-loved country song the other day, hadn't heard it for years. It struck me, once again, that there's a lot of poetry embedded in country lyrics! Rodney Crowell's lovely words in "'Til I Can Gain Control Again" are what inspired this post.

Just like the sun over the mountain top
You know I'll always come again
You know I love to spend my morning time
Like sunlight dancing on your skin

I've never gone so wrong as to telling lies to you
What you've seen is what I've been
There is nothing I could hide from you
You see me better than I can

Out on the road that lies before me now
There are some turns where I will spin
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again

Like a lighthouse you must stand alone
Landmark the sailor's journeys end
No matter what sea I've have been sailing on
I'll always roll this way again

Out on the road that lies before me now
There are some turns where I will spin
I only hope that you can hold me now
Till I can gain control again

Songwriter: Rodney J. Crowell.

The song has been recorded by numerous artists, as well as by its writer; best known recordings are by Emmy Lou Harris and Willy Nelson. Just for a change though, I enjoy hearing the Walker Brothers' cover version, I've always loved Scott Walker's voice:

Here's Emmy Lou's classic version:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Pieces of Interest

 Mabel Lucie Attwell's illustration
Why the Democrats Are Also to Blame for Brett Kavanaugh by Joshua Frank at Counterpunch this week:

If the Democrats cannot cobble together a solidified opposition to Trump’s most egregious policies, why would the Kavanaugh nomination be any different? Instead of drawing up a visionary blueprint that aims to excite a true grassroots movement against the corporate establishment, they continue to shiver in the face of internal upheaval as they have with the recent victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York.

The Democrats don’t control the Senate for a reason. They have not galvanized the majority of Americans who oppose the Wall Street takeover of our government and the perpetual wars that prop it up. Why? Because the Democrats don’t actually oppose either. They aren’t inept, Democrats are simply professional defenders of the status-quo................

Remember, this is the same party that demonized Bernie Sanders’ supporters and believed the movement he sparked and the issues he raised were unworthy of recognition.

This is the same party that rubber-stamped the endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, the slaughters in Libya, Yemen, and more. This is the same party that backs Israel’s brutal occupation of Paletine. This is the same party that overwhelmingly backed the PATRIOT Act and the ongoing evisceration of our civil liberties. This is the same party that dismantled the welfare system while increasing corporate welfare. This is the same party that claims to believe in climate change but hasn’t done a damn thing to stop Big Oil. This is the same party that supports the death penalty, mass incarceration and a militarized Police State. This is the same party that claims to support women’s rights in the US but outright ignores the horrible working conditions and abuse their neoliberal policies inflict upon the women, many of them girls, who toil away in sweatshops around the globe in the name of profit.

They will whine that they’ve been steamrolled by Trump and the Republicans, but shed no tears for the Democrats. You can’t be steamrolled if you aren’t even standing in front of the machine that’s about to crush us.

The New Age of Astrology
In a stressful, data-driven era, many young people find comfort and insight in the zodiac—even if they don’t exactly believe in it. An interesting piece by Julie Beck in The Atlantic earlier this year.

It begins:

Astrology is a meme, and it’s spreading in that blooming, unfurling way that memes do. On social media, astrologers and astrology meme machines amass tens or hundreds of thousands of followers, people joke about Mercury retrograde, and categorize “the signs as ...” literally anything: cat breeds, Oscar Wilde quotes, Stranger Things characters, types of french fries. In online publications, daily, weekly, and monthly horoscopes, and zodiac-themed listicles flourish.
This isn’t the first moment astrology’s had and it won’t be the last. The practice has been around in various forms for thousands of years. More recently, the New Age movement of the 1960s and ’70s came with a heaping helping of the zodiac.

In the decades between the New Age boom and now, while astrology certainly didn’t go away—you could still regularly find horoscopes in the back pages of magazines—it “went back to being a little bit more in the background,” says Chani Nicholas, an astrologer based in Los Angeles. “Then there’s something that’s happened in the last five years that’s given it an edginess, a relevance for this time and place, that it hasn’t had for a good 35 years. Millennials have taken it and run with it.”
Lots more at the link!

A recent challenge at Quora brought about many answers, all entertaining: Remove one letter from the name of a TV show or movie. What's the premise of the new show or movie?
Here's one of the first, and more compact answers I stumbled upon, it's by a Quora friend Charlie Anne Excell, who gave her permission for its use on my blog.

I enjoyed the chuckles:


Mad Ma - Crazy mother of a hero takes the car keys, for pimpin' her car again. Gets to bingo quicker tho..

Forrest Gum - Mentally challenged son learns to blow impressive bubbles, which rise & save him after falls off shrimp boat. Mum likes it, she really really likes it…

One With The Wind - Frankly, people not giving a damn about openly farting during their public meditations.

Lord Of The Rigs - Tall hatted magician helps hairy-footed kids, hairy-faced equestrians and pointy-eared models drive an evil semi-trailer smack into a fireplace.

0 Shades Of Grey - Smartass guy and oddball chick sit round knitting, reading the phonebook and yawning. (I know.. I removed a number, not “a letter!” Sheesh, CHILL!, hava cold shower..)

Crocodile Undee - ‘Tables are turned' as U.S. journo chick pervs at reptile wrangler's bum cheeks in U.S. thong undees, as he gratuitously bends to look in water for a croc.

Star War
- Basic type space movie. Doubt there'll be a sequel.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Harry Otter; Py Kids; The Leg Movie; SharkNad!; When Harry Et Sally; Fiddler On The Roo; and, Itchcock.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Arty Farty Architectural Friday

I found this collection of photographs of:
The most beautiful building in every US state, according to people who live there
well worth wandering through. I did worry and wonder about what our home state of Oklahoma's input would be, I needn't have done so, it's absolutely fine, as are the two "Honorable Mentions" for the state.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Pop Goes.....Us?

Today, July 11, is
World Population Day.

Borrowed from ScienceNet

It is set aside to raise awareness about population issues around the world. The United Nations designated July 11th as an annual observance in 1989, two years after the international organization marked the Day of 5 Billion.

Scientists and statisticians estimate that the world population hit seven billion near October 31, 2011. The world population is growing rapidly due to improvements in health care, life expectancy, and infant mortality rates, adding 83 million more people to the planet every year. The earth's human population only hit one billion concurrent residents in 1804.

While it took 123 years for it to reach two billion in 1927, each additional billion was achieved far more quickly -- 32 (in 1959), 15 (1974), 13 (1987), and 11 (1998) years respectively. Population growth has slowed slightly. This most recent billion mark took 14 years to reach, and experts estimate the eight billion mark will arrive 12 years after the last full billion -- in 2023. However, even assuming a declining birth rate, estimates predict the global population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100.

Scientists study demography and population trends because of the underlying implications they have for human health, planetary resources, climate change, and a variety of other scientific fields.

The 2018 theme for World Population Day is "Family Planning is a Human Right!" which focuses attention on providing safe, voluntary access to family planning, particularly to the 225 million women living in the poorest nations on earth who want improved family planning options. Experts agree that securing women this access decreases poverty, while improving women's empowerment, gender equity, economic gains, and development at a national level. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 International Conference on Human Rights, where family planning was, for the first time, globally affirmed to be a human right.


My archived posts on the theme of population explosion:

Every Sperm is Sacred - or so They Say

Too Many of Us - What's to be Done?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Pitch with an Imperfect Purpose

Interesting, and a tad disturbing, piece by Caitlin Johnstone:

I Paid To See A Movie About Singing. I Got Ninety Minutes Of Pentagon Propaganda.

It begins:
To cap off a long, strange day, my husband and I took the kids out last night to see Pitch Perfect 3. The first Pitch Perfect is a firm favorite in our household, the kind of movie we end up watching when we can’t agree on what to watch. We’d been waiting til we all had a night to see the latest one together, so we made a night of it and went out for some dinner, too. I even had a Coke. The sugary kind. This was a big night, people! So we were all in high spirits and I entered the theater excited to see some good music and have a good time.

I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I also wasn’t expecting to be blasted in the face with ninety minutes of blatant war propaganda from the United States Department of Defense...........

I'm pretty sure we saw the original Pitch Perfect movie, and enjoyed it, not sure about #2. #3, having read what Ms Johnstone has to say about it, will be on our 'movies to avoid' list.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Music Monday ~ Speaking Low

One evening last week we accidentally happened upon a strange little film of a 1955 TV live presentation (on the poster it's listed as a "Legendary Telecast") of the 1940s musical play "One Touch of Venus". The musical was also made into a 'proper' movie starring Ava Gardner. This presentation, with Janet Blair as Venus is in a rather blurry black and white, very dated, but interesting due to its history, and one particular song: "Speak Low".

"One Touch of Venus"
was a musical - music written by Kurt Weill, lyrics by none other than Ogden Nash; book by S. J. Perelman and Nash, based on the novella The Tinted Venus by Thomas Anstey Guthrie... [Note from your friendly blogger - it also smacks of Thorne Smith's style in "Nightlife of the Gods", but a tad less bawdy. The title with single line synopsis was the reason I decided to investigate. "This sounds like one of Thorne Smith's I said to husband - who agreed. We are both fans of that mostly forgotten author of quirky fantasy tales.]

Ogden Nash, as I wrote in 2006 (one of my very early blog posts was about him)
"always had a burning ambition to write for musical comedy. He eventually attained his dream when he provided the lyrics for Kurt Weill's classic "Speak Low" in collaboration with my next subject S.J Perelman, who was to become his lifelong friend. Nash and Perelman co-authored the show "One Touch of Venus" from which the song came. "Speak Low" was to become the show's signature number, but there are many more, including "Very, Very, Very" which, satirically, takes off on targets from fine art to free love. As the Nash lyric explains, "It's a minor peccadillo/To patronize the wrong pillow." "

SO..."Speak Low" is my tune for this Music Monday - one version sung by a female, one by a male.

Speak low when you speak, love
Our summer day withers away too soon, too soon
Speak low when you speak, love
Our moment is swift; like ships adrift, we're swept apart too soon

Speak low, darling, speak low
Love is a spark lost in the dark too soon, too soon
I feel wherever I go
That tomorrow is near, tomorrow is here and always too soon

Time is so old and love so brief
Love is pure gold and time a thief

We're late, darling, we're late
The curtain descends, everything ends too soon, too soon
I wait, darling, I wait
Will you speak low to me? Speak love to me and soon

Time is so old and love so brief
Love is pure gold and time a thief

We're late, darling, we're late
The curtain descends, everything ends too soon, too soon
I wait, darling, I wait
Will you speak low to me? Speak love to me and soon
Speak low.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Scribblings on Home Decor as Sleep Aid

During the last several weeks - months even - for various reasons I've had trouble sleeping. I removed myself from our bed, so as not to disturb the husband's sleep, and have taken to sleeping in one of the recliners we bought earlier this year, padded with a few pillows. As a sleep aid I turn on the TV, subtitles on, sound muted, watch until eyes signal imminent closure. I regularly choose a segment of something from the selection of documentaries or reality shows available via Netflix.

TV has become a definite sleep aid, even when I'm not trying! Earlier in evenings, of late, I've missed great chunks of TV series or movies we've been watching.

Among the jumble of sleep-aid stuff I've watched in snatches, in the early hours, have been episodes from a couple of series from the UK relating to house decor, sales, and how to best present a house when trying to win over the goodwill of potential buyers. I understand this kind of thing is called "home staging".

In one such series an American, rather over- bubbly, "house dresser" (Tracy Metro in "House Doctor") runs around different areas of the UK showing sellers where they are going wrong, then tarting up their decor, often in fairly iffy (to my eye) ways! It was nice to see a few of my old stomping grounds included though, as featured locations. Even a house in often ignored Hull was the star of one show!

In the other series a more down to earth estate agent, Sarah Beeny presents "Selling Houses". In each episode, a couple looking to buy a house in a specific location and price range, is featured. Three options of houses for sale are suggested. The sellers are allowed to critique one another's styles, first. Then they are given a thousand pounds to use on improvements to their decor and property, so as to better appeal to the chosen buyers. The conclusion (which I often missed) showed which house the buyers (allegedly) had chosen.

What amazed me more than some of the decorative style (or lack of same) in "Selling Houses" - both before and after so-called improvements - were some of the house (and flat/apartment) prices! Yikes! Admittedly the locations were in the south of England's "leafy suburbia" or one of the outer London boroughs, rather than the more down to earth (and pocket) northerly towns and cities. How do people afford these prices - three hundred and thirty thousand pounds + in many cases for a 2 or 3 bedroomed house, and just short of half a million pounds for a not all that swish apartment in outer London! These are in pounds remember, add around a third to translate to dollars. Jaw hits floor. The buyers (always supposing they are genuine buyers and not actors posing for this show) were youngish - in their late 20s or thirties. The mind boggles at the thought of mortgage payments !

The other thing I found surprising was how potential buyers fixate on wall colour, decor items, pieces of furniture. The latter will disappear entirely when owners move out, and the former are easily changed. I can appreciate that, in some cases, new owners prefer to move in with "nothing to do", but I'd bet that happens only rarely. We all like to put our own marks on our homes, and a few pots of paint will not break the bank. Ever the cynic, I wonder, could everything possibly be faked and scripted especially for these shows?

Fake or genuine, I've always had a soft spot for these types of programmes - I guess it's the arty farty streak in me. Years ago, back in the UK, I enjoyed "Changing Rooms" a then popular series with a house decor theme. Its presenter, who was part of the show's appeal for me, was one Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. He got himself in hot water more than once with house owners due to his outlandish style of decor. It was good to see him again a few months ago, somewhat older and a tad less flamboyant not, in this case as a sleep aid, but in a series of shows we watched: "Hidden Houses of Wales" (Netflix again). The series featured some historic houses in Wales, houses still lived in as real homes. The shows investigated the history of these houses, with current owners interviewed by Laurence.

Anyway, back to the point of all these scribbles...one of these nights I'll be back in bed, sans sleep aid - we have no TV in the bedroom. I predict numerous visits to bed and mattress stores in our future!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Churchill's Darkest & Lighter Hours

Last weekend we watched, via rented DVD, the movie Darkest Hour.
Darkest Hour is a 2017 war drama film directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. It stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and is an account of his early days as Prime Minister, as Nazi Germany's Wehrmacht swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat the United Kingdom during World War II.......

Many critics noted Oldman's performance as one of the best of his career; he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his work. At the 90th Academy Awards the film earned six nominations, including Best Picture, and won for Best Actor and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. At the 71st British Academy Film Awards it received nine nominations including Best Film and Outstanding British Film.

The movie, and Gary Oldman, deserved all the plaudits and awards they received. The film, though factual, wasn't handled in the often dry style films with such themes can fall into. There was a sure creative and and artistic hand behind the photography and general tone of the movie.

While considering a post for this Arty Farty Friday, I remembered one I wrote back in 2009, relating to one of Churchill's other talents: painting. A re-airing, then - lightly edited:

Can Churchill's love of art be found in his natal chart? He has Mars and Jupiter in Libra (ruled by Venus, planet of the arts). His natal Moon (inner life & emotion) is in harmonious trine to Neptune (creativity), and completes a Grand Trine with Venus : Grand Trine linking Moon/Neptune/Venus sounds very arty to me!
I think I need look no further!

I don't see it as the chart of a born war leader - he didn't ask for that role, but thank goodness he was in the right place at the right time to take it on, and was able to adapt and inspire. In his own words: "I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion's roar". I dread to think what would have happened to Britain with a lesser man at the helm, 1939-1945. Revisionists may revile him for some of the decisions taken late in World War 2, but I shall never lose my utmost respect for the man.

He has written, with regard to his art:

Just to paint is great fun. The colours are lovely to look at and delicious to squeeze out. Matching them, however crudely, with what you see is fascinating and absolutely absorbing.

The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the lookout for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and carried safely home.

Light and colour, peace and hope, will keep painters company to the end of the day.

A few samples of his work: