Friday, August 31, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ September Morn & Paul Chabas

Paul Émile Chabas (March 7, 1869 – May 10, 1937) was a French painter and illustrator and member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

Chabas loved to paint female nude figures. His style was delicate, respectful and never courted titillation or eroticism as did some other artists of his era. His most famous painting, "September Morn" (below) brought him little but pain and notoriety. This piece from the Oregon Daily Journal of 29 September 1913, headlined "September Morn is curse to the artist" explains:

So deeply pained and humiliated by the notoriety which his famous painting "September Morn," has brought him that he can no longer bear to frequent his former haunts, Paul Chabas, the artist, la hiding from his friends somewhere in the south of France, and his model, a dainty and demure little bachelor girl, has also dropped from sight according to Jules Pages, noted artist, her today from Paris where he knew both artist and model personally. Pages says the girl who posed for "September Morn" Is not pretty, but very Graceful and daily made her living by calling at the Paris studios for posing. "September Morn" has not made her rich or famous, and she is now hiding from its notoriety. She bears an excellent reputation for character, Pages said. Chabas la of a retiring and deeply sensitive nature, and the comment aroused over his painting has grieved him deeply.

A look at a 12 noon version of his natal chart (click on it for a clearer version) reveals the source of his "deeply sensitive nature". His natal Sun and Venus were in sensitive, emotional Pisces, and lay in harmonious trine to Uranus in ultra sensitive Cancer.

In reporting the artist's death the New York Times noted as follows:
Paul Chabas, who painted the famous picture, "September Morn," in 1912, died today at the age of 68. He had been an invalid for two years, and the only painting in the room where he spent most of the time was his own copy of the picture that made him world famous.

That painting:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

"The what ifs are as boundless as the stars"

(The post's title is a quote from Sally Gardner in "Maggot Moon".)

What if...say, a nuclear conflagration were to take place on Earth, resulting in the complete annihilation of the human race? The planet would be left devastated for many thousands of years. What if, eventually, after a minor hit from a small asteroid which carried spores from outer space, a form of life began to take root, mingling with whatever remained among the formerly radioactive rubble? Several more millennia would pass with lifeforms becoming more sophisticated and intelligent, though in no way similar in form to the human race. Would the sensibilities of these beings still be governed by the same planets, Sun and Moon, seasons and cycles as we are, we the human race ? Would the same astrological imprints still endow similar benefits and drawbacks. Would there still be that tiny seed of hatred embedded, that same seed which we all carry within us? Are we, as a race, warts and all, simply as we are because of our particular physical place in the universe? And would any other developed race spawned on this planet have the same problems because of the planetary setup?

The price we pay for the beauty of the Earth and its many benefits is that human inhabitants carry a mix of characteristics capable, at worst, of destroying themselves. If, as astrologers believe, these characteristics are governed (in part) by the physical situation of our planet Earth, and how it relates to celestial bodies surrounding it, then nothing would ever change fundamentally - only superficially. Wars and hatred would always be a part of life on Earth, the features of its inhabitants, uniforms and figureheads would change, but the core drive of hatred (and greed) would remain, always.

The only way to experience a better world would be to find another planet capable of supporting human life, but with a different planetary setup surrounding it. There's a snag. What if the human race did, on some far off future date, de-camp from Earth. A different setup would not necessarily be a better one, and and it could take thousands of years to discover detail of new astrological workings. Humans born in th new environment might have less, or even none, of our good traits and more of our bad ones - or some even worse ones, if that be possible. In any case, that scenario is unlikely to happen, but it's still an interesting thought upon which to ponder.

We humans must carry on "playing with the hand fate has dealt us". It's a gamble, but gamblers do very occasionally win, even with the odds against them.

Touching on this topic a decade or so ago, an old blog-friend of mine, "anthonynorth" commented:
My interest in Ufology brought me to a definite answer on our wars and tech. In asking what any aliens would be like who visited us, I came to the conclusion they would be benevolent. This is because they would have had to pass the planetary test - that in developing tech so powerful that they could wipe themselves out, they would either fail and do so, or come to terms with themselves and thrive in the universe.

I suspect we're approaching the test.

We're now a decade nearer that 'test' - are we any wiser or any dumber? I suspect the latter!

“But what if I fail?" You will. The answer to the what if question is, you will. A better question might be, "after I fail, what then?" Well, if you've chosen well, after you fail you will be one step closer to succeeding, you will be wiser and stronger and you almost certainly will be more respected by all of those that are afraid to try.”
― Seth Godin

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Astro-seasonal - Some Ideas

The skin and bones of popular western astrology is as follows: the positions of the seven inner planets closest to Earth, including the two lights (Sun/Moon/Mercury/Venus/Mars/Jupiter/Saturn), in relation to the zodiac circle, as well as aspects made between the planets are believed by astrologers to have reflection in our individual personality traits. The slower moving "outer planets", Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are said to connect to generations more than to individuals, unless very closely linked to a personal planet, natally or in transit.

Quite often, in a natal chart, at least six of the seven bodies (Moon is excluded because of its faster motion) lie within just one half of the zodiac circle. Mercury and Venus, for example are never further from the Sun than the space of two signs, often less than that, Mercury can never be further than a single sign from the Sun.

Now - the thoughts that follow are just my own.

When inner planet emphasis is concentrated on around half of the signs of the zodiac, and especially if that half coincides with seasonal boundaries, personality traits in people born within that span could have more broad compatibility with one another other than with people born in the other portion of the zodiac. I say "broad", because beyond a mix of personal planets there's a bunch other complications and considerations: rising sign and Moon's position for instance.

In my own experience, I do initially tend to connect more easily with what I'll call "winter/early spring types". My own 'inner' planets range from (starting late autumn) Scorpio, through Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius & Pisces to Aries - Moon included. The experience is going to be more noticeable when one's natal Moon and/or rising sign fall into the same half of the zodiac as the inner planets. My rising sign is the oddity - it's in Cancer, a summer sign.

This theory would also mean that, although the four astrological elements (Fire, Air, Earth and Water), would still retain textbook compatibility - Air and Fire signs blending well, same for Earth and Water signs, but still certain of the signs might have a stronger link. In my own case, for example, the compatibility links between the Air and Fire signs involved in my portion of the zodiac circle would be especially strong, that is, links between Aquarius, Aries and Sagittarius; and the Earth and Water signs between Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces.

Seasonal astrology has been discussed in the past, at least one book as been published on the subject, but the general idea has never really caught on as "a thing".

Monday, August 27, 2018

Music Monday ~ All There Is ?

I've invented a new verse to Leiber & Stoller's great old song, "Is that all there is?" Best known rendition of the original is by Peggy Lee.

My new verse - to be sung (if I could sing, which I cannot) just before the last verse of the original:

And then I got married and came with my husband to the USA
Much to see and lots to do,
Political argument about a guy called "Dubya".
But the years passed, and I watched political shows on TV, read political columns on the net.
And soon it was 2016,and a guy called Trump was elected President.
Now all I see on TV, and all I read on the net, is Trump, Trump, Trump, and Russia Russia Russia
And I say to myself:
Is THAT all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball,
If that's all there is...
If That All There Is.

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over I said to myself, is that all there is to a fire
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

And when I was twelve years old, my father took me to a circus, the greatest show on earth
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads
And so I sat there watching the marvelous spectacle
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don't know what, but when it was over
I said to myself, "is that all there is to a circus?
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is

Then I fell in love, head over heels in love, with the most wonderful boy in the world
We would take long walks by the river or just sit for hours gazing into each other's eyes
We were so very much in love
Then one day he went away and I thought I'd die, but I didn't
and when I didn't I said to myself, is that all there is to love?
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing

I know what you must be saying to yourselves
if that's the way she feels about it why doesn't she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me I'm in no hurry for that final disappointment
for I know just as well as I'm standing here talking to you
when that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath, I'll be saying to myself
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.

Songwriters: Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts

Has anyone noticed that the Sun has quietly slipped out of heat-drenched Leo into what will, I hope, turn out to be an ever so slightly cooler, better presented stint in zodiac sign Virgo?

Speaking of Virgo, Ogden Nash, a favourite writer of mine, once wrote a piece of poetry which, all unknowingly by the author (I guess) was a pretty accurate description of someone with a hefty dose of Virgo in their natal chart - not just the Sun in Virgo though. A true, recognisable Virgo-type needs strong natal emphasis on the sign in order to advertise clearly its attributes. A cluster of planets in the sign, particularly the personal planets (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars) would do it. Virgo on the ascendant angle or angle opposite, or at mid-heaven or nadir of the chart would provide even more emphasis.

Here's what Ogden Nash wrote about a true Virgo-type, possibly without realising what he'd done. I suspect he was describing his wife, a friend, or a colleague!

A Stitch Too Late Is My Fate
by Ogden Nash

There are some people of whom I would certainly like to be one,
Who are the people who get things done.
They balance their checkbooks every month and their figures
always agree with the bank's,
And they are prompt in writing letters of condolence or thanks.
They never leave anything to chance,
But always make reservations in advance.
When they get out of bed they never neglect to don slippers
so they never pick up athlete's foot or a cold or a splinter,
And they hang their clothes up on hangers every night and
put their winter clothes away every summer
and their summer clothes away every winter.
Before spending any money they insist on getting
an estimate or a sample,
And if they lose anything from a shoelace to a diamond ring
it is covered by insurance more than ample.
They have budgets and what is more they live inside of them,
Even though it means eating things made by recipes
clipped from the Sunday paper that you'd think they would have died from them.
They serve on committees
And improve their cities
They are modern knight errants
Who remember their godchildren's birthdays and the anniversaries
of their godchildren's parents,
And in cold weather they remember the birds and supply them with
sunflower seed and suet,
And whatever they decide to do, whether it's to save
twentyfive percent of their salary or learn Italian or write a musical comedy or touch their toes a hundred times every morning before breakfast,
why they go ahead and do it.
People who get things done lead contented lives, or at least I guess so,
And I certainly wish that either I were more like them or they were less so.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ What's It All About....?"

This excellent little video - only around 6 minutes long - is well worth a look -
"What is Art For?"

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Book of Cynicos with Ian Lang

Another slice of wonderful silliness courtesy of Ian Lang and Quora (with his kind blanket permission).
The question here was:
"What is the most hilarious way to describe humanity?"
Ian Lang answered:

The Book of Cynicos, which is not generally accepted as Church canon, and which comes before most of Genesis, goes thusly:

1. And lo, it was Saturday. And God had a cup of coffee and some Weetabix, and set forth to work.

2. And the Angel Mick did watcheth over God’s shoulder.

3.“I like the cows, very good patterning on the skin,” spaketh Mick. And God did reply “Thanks. Wait until you see the zebras”.

4. And God did maketh the giraffe, and did rolleth out the neck, and did get distracted by Cherubim playing football noisily in the garden. And God did commandeth Mick:

5. “Go and tell them to bugger off and play somewhere else, will you? Look at what I’ve done here because of them. That neck’s only supposed to be six inches.”

6. And God did looketh at his clock, and was pressed for time. “Oh, well” spaketh the Lord, “it’ll just have to do now”.

7.And Mick did return, having told the Cherubim to sod off and take their bloody football with them, just as God was making monkeys.

8.And God came to the last of the monkeys, and commanded Mick to pass him a monkey brain from the jar on the bench. And Mick did passeth from the jar, and God fitted the brain, and lo, the monkey was given life and walked in the Garden.

9.And God had another coffee and watched his work, whereupon he narrowed his eyes and did say “is that monkey talking?”

10.And God and Mick watched, and lo, the Monkey did say “I’m hungry. What’s for lunch?”

11. And God spake to Mick and did sayeth “what jar did you get that brain from?” and Mick did indicate the vessel.

12. “Oh bugger!” exclaimethed God. That was going to go in the last thing I was going to make after this coffee! It was going to be the supreme creation upon the Earth!”

13. And Mick did sayeth “oops. Sorry, Lord”.

14.“I don’t know what’s going to happen here now. God brains, monkey body. We’ll have to keep an eye on it. I suppose I’d better make it a mate, we don’t want it getting randy and trying to hump the other monkeys.”

15. And lo, in the Garden were now very bright monkeys and a big headache for God. And God did remarketh “we’ll have to put somebody down there to watch things. Who’ve we got doing nothing much?”

16. And Mick did replieth “Well, young Lucifer’s not busy”.

17. Oops

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Brennan vs Trump

John Brennan was in the news again last week.
On August 15, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he revoked John Brennan's security clearance. Brennan harshly criticized Trump several times since he was elected, and he responded to the revocation by stating "My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent."
Brennan serves as a senior national security and intelligence analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Here's what I wrote about Brennan in 2013, when then President Obama nominated him to head the CIA in place of a disgraced David Petraeus:-

The president nominated John Brennan to head the CIA in place of David Petraeus whose zipper problems led him astray, far enough to result in his resignation (we've been told). John Brennan looks a deal scarier than ol' Dave ever did! I've yet to see a photograph of him smiling, checked Google Image - there are a couple of forced smirky smiles, which seem the best he can manage. After preparing this post I went back to reading Les Miserables, and just by chance, on page 100 which marked the extent of my progress through the huge tome, read a description which exactly fits Mr. Brennan: "The sight of him suggested that he was continually absorbed in the contemplation of something terrible", though in the novel it refers, of course, to ex-convict Jean Valjean's appearance, early in the story.

For some background on John Brennan see Alex Kane's article 5 Terrifying Facts about John Brennan. Also Obama’s CIA Pick Stinks of Torture, Targeted Killings by Peter Z. Scheer at
"Rather than use his electoral victory to shove a dove down the throat of the national security establishment, President Obama seems to be sticking it to the left, by nominating the intelligence veteran to head the CIA. Brennan was prevented from becoming CIA director in Obama’s last term because the former chief of staff to Bush’s CIA director George Tenet had the stink of torture about him. Now, he is the man most credited with an assassination program that features, among other things, a secret presidential kill list."

I haven't found any astrologer's thoughts on his natal chart yet. Let's have a gander at a 12 noon version, as his birth time isn't known:

His chart is nowhere near as scary as his photograph. This chart could easily belong to a writer, painter, photographer or poet: Mercury conjunct Neptune, Sun conjunct Venus. Saturn in Scorpio sextile Mars in Virgo might be the least benign factor here, or perhaps Pluto conjunct Jupiter. If a deathly Pluto conjunct expansive Jupiter were on or close to his ascendant - that could fit.

Moon would be in Sagittarius whatever his time of birth. Sun in precise perfectionist Virgo, Moon in expansive free-rolling Sagittarius are two very different facets of his nature.

While Brennan and Obama probably saw eye to eye on many things, the same probably does not apply to Brennan and Trump. Here's the natal chart of Donald Trump. I have to chuckle as I look at it once again - it so well describes the guy! His urge to communicate at every turn (Twitter), his sensitivity, vanity, need to be applauded and admired (Gemini, Cancer Leo).

Donald Trump's chart - 14 June 1946 at 10:54 AM in Queens County, New York.

Brennan and Trump both have natal Suns in signs ruled by Mercury, Brennan's in Virgo, Trump's in Gemini. The Virgo style of Mercurial is very different from the Geminian Mercurial style! That's one stumbling block right there. Gemini, the Air sign is free-wheeling and sociable, Virgo, the Earth sign is practical and ultra-critical. Both men have Moon in Sagittarius though, you'd think that might help things along.

Here's a potential fly in ointment: Trump's Mars at 26 Leo close to his ascendant angle (so quite a strong component of the chart) is conjunct Brennan's Pluto at 27 Leo - Brennan's Pluto is widely conjunct his own natal Jupiter too, adding emphasis, not to mention potential for a few explosive exchanges!

Personally - never mind the astrology - I'd feel happier if both men would relinquish their current positions and go play golf, build hotels, or write plays and paint pictures for the rest of their lives, leaving the business of looking after the USA to the few (very few indeed) who have the best interests of the nation's population at heart (such as...a guy called Bernie... and a gal called Elizabeth).

Monday, August 20, 2018

Panning over Music Monday

It's many years since we visited San Antonio, Texas, but two things remain in my memory from that visit: standing inside The Alamo and touching its walls; and the sound of Andean Fusion in a shopping mall which lay at the end of the famous San Antonio River Walk. Both experiences brought on an attack of the goosebumps!

Andean Fusion is a Peruvian Pan-Flute Band, their sound, echoing through the airy, spacious mall was captivating. I bought one of their CDs - it is playing as I type.

There's something about the sound of pan pipes...something no other instrument has - for me anyway. Maybe it emanates from very deeply buried human memory. Pan pipes: their history spans the continents of Earth. They appeared in various different cultures, perhaps not at exactly the same time in man-made time, but probably around the same stage of development of each culture. In the Americas, China, Europe, Africa evidence of this, one of man's earliest musical instruments has been found, stretching back for at least 6000 years. The instruments were constructed from reeds, bamboo cane, wood, clay, bone.....whatever was to hand in a particular location.

In the West, the name 'pan pipes' honours Greek mythological god Pan. The story goes that Pan, god of pastoral folk and their flocks, fell in love with a beautiful nymph, Syrinx. Syrinx didn't find Pan, with his cloven hooves and shaggy countenance in the least fanciable. She fled, with Pan in pursuit. When they reached a river bank with nowhere for Syrinx to escape, she became desperate. She called to the river god for aid and in response was turned into a reed. Pan, reaching out to embrace the nymph found only a bunch of reeds in his grasp. His sighs produced a strange melodic sound to echo through the reeds. To demonstrate his undying love Pan broke off some reeds and made them into a flute-like instrument, played sad melodies to his lost love, who he imagined to be embodied in the instrument he always carried.

From Pan's Pipes, an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson from his book Virginibus Puerisque (translation "For Boys and Girls")
Last paragraph:

There are moments when the mind refuses to be satisfied with evolution, and demands a ruddier presentation of the sum of man's experience. Sometimes the mood is brought about by laughter at the humorous side of life, as when, abstracting ourselves from earth, we imagine people plodding on foot, or seated in ships and speedy trains, with the planet all the while whirling in the opposite direction, so that, for all their hurry, they travel back-foremost through the universe of space. Sometimes it comes by the spirit of delight, and sometimes by the spirit of terror. At least, there will always be hours when we refuse to be put off by the feint of explanation, nicknamed science; and demand instead some palpitating image of our estate, that shall represent the troubled and uncertain element in which we dwell, and satisfy reason by the means of art. Science writes of the world as if with the cold finger of a starfish; it is all true; but what is it when compared to the reality of which it discourses? Where hearts beat high in April, and death strikes, and hills totter in the earthquake, and there is a glamour over all the objects of sight, and a thrill in all noises for the ear, and Romance herself has made her dwelling among men? So we come back to the old myth, and hear the goat-footed piper making the music which is itself the charm and terror of things; and when a glen invites our visiting footsteps, fancy that Pan leads us thither with a gracious tremolo; or when our hearts quail at the thunder of the cataract, tell ourselves that he has stamped his hoof in the nigh thicket.


There are several amateur videos featuring Andean Fusion in San Antonio at YouTube, but quality of sound is not good, and doesn't offer the same impression we had, hearing the music echoing around the mall. I'll post one such video, as well as one played by an acknowledged master of the pan pipes.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Saturday and Sundry Thoughts - Dark and Light

"What no one seemed to notice. . . was the ever widening gap. . .between the government and the people. . . And it became always wider. . . the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway . . . (it) gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about . . and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated . . . by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. ...Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'. . . must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. . . .Each act. . . (was) worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.” -- Excerpted From Milton Mayer’s book, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

Feel a cold shiver? That book is a study of the lives of a group of ordinary Germans under the Third Reich.

History is a vast early warning system.
~Norman Cousins

On the lighter side, from Ian Lang at Quora, answering the (rather loaded) question "Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island with Donald Trump or Barack Obama?" Ian answered:

I’m going for Donald Trump. Have you seen how fat he is? Obama looks a bit stringy and roasting him on a beach fire won’t bring me many meals. In addition it looks like Trump is used to flavoursome, rich foods whereas Obama looks like he’s spent his life eating healthy stuff. Hopefully those flavours will be apparent in roast leg-of-Donald.

With a bit of luck the tide will wash some other things up from the shipwreck too. Some fava beans and a nice chianti would be most welcome.


"You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, `My God, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!'" ~ Dave Barry

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rant Central with Ian Lang

Here's another super rant by Ian Lang (of Quora), posted with his (blanket) gracious permission. This time Ian is blowing off steam in regard to Brexit and the way specific, and other, aspects of the proposed exit from the EU are dragging on...and on....and... The question which brought on his recent rant was:
After 40+ years of common EU regulation and compliance, is it odd that the EU suddenly has an issue with UK driver’s licenses?
However, his words could be applied equally to any of the numerous stumbling blocks presented by the UK's proposed goodbye wave to the European Union.

By Ian Lang, Leading Technician

All of this sort of bollocks could be sorted out over a couple of G&Ts on a Wednesday afternoon if both sides really wanted to, but no, we have to have these long, drawn-out dramas because bloody career politicians and pundits on both sides want a bit of publicity.

For Christ’s sake. The bloody Yalta Conference only lasted eight days and that was sorting a proper mess out. The Congress of Vienna only lasted nine months; most of the work was done inside a week by little blokes with pencils and it might not have gone on as long as it did if bleeding Napoleon hadn’t slipped out of Elba in February and spoiled things. The Armistice of 1918 took three days. The German surrender at Luneberg took the same.

We’ve got these things we keep hanging around at great expense. They’re called diplomats. Granted, some of the ones at the top might not be any good but behind Sir Rupert Twaittingly-Corpulent KCBE etc (PPE Cambridge) and whatever his foreign equivalents are there are men and women who know how to strike a good compromise for both sides so lock them up in a room somewhere quiet with a pile of sandwiches and vol-au-vents and a tankerful of tea and coffee and let ’em hammer it out.

It’s bloody well symptomatic of our times. In industrial circles it used to be “go and make one of these and we’ll see if anybody’s got a use for it and sell it to ‘em” now it’s five years case study and cost-benefit analysis and worrying about how it fits in to the business model, by which time whatever it is you were going to make has been denecessitated by something else. In government it used to be chaps (hardly ever chapesses but never mind for the moment) had words in French and stuff got sorted that afternoon. It’s not that hard to be a moderately succesful shopkeeper, you buy a load of stuff and if it’s cheap quality you sell it on at a reasonable price, if it’s high quality you charge a premium, and where it falls between the two you judge it and set the right price adding a bit for profit and a bit more for tax. As long as you aren’t selling utter tat, keep your shop clean and you don’t throw cabbages at great velocity and scream “get out you bastards!” at customers as they come in the door they will give you money. But no. We have to have retail professionals running things. If anybody ever tells you they are a retail professional just say “oh, you mean you work in a shop?” and watch their faces. Retail professionals ran Woolworths. BHS. Toys R Us. Maplin. House of Fraser. Marks and Spencer. Need I go on?

It’s the same sort of professional that’s running politics as it is retail. They think they know it all and won’t let the people who do know how to do it actually do it. It strokes their egos but nothing gets done. Then there’s a big old mess to clear up but by that time they’ve had their bonuses and buggered off to ruin something else.

We could have a Brexit deal done and dusted by September and this sort of arsing about shouldn’t be necessary. But no. The politicos on both sides want to grandstand and bluster and in the end all that happens is we do nothing.

Politicos. You’re all bastards. We should have a European-wide rising to give you all a last cigarette before a nice, sunny wall in Madrid or somewhere. That’s the sort of EU I’d back. Then the rest of us could just get on with it. Now take your giant egos and insert them rectally at an oblique angle, you bunch of publicity-chasing charlatans.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Detoxing the War Machine

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums.”
~ Arthur Koestler

An excellent and concise piece by Paul Edwards, titled
The Bonfire of Humanity was published at Counterpunch at the weekend.


What’s the difference between an alcoholic or a junkie… and the American Deep State War Machine?

Nothing. There isn’t any.

Both are deep in the grip of addictions.......

...Just as the addict’s out-of-control behavior breaks down and humiliates love, trust and hope in those who care, and tramples their loyalty and support in the mud, so the rabid, fathomless, ungovernable greed of the War Machine has broken, deceived and betrayed the American people, who stand in the same violated, scorned relation to it as a soul-scarred Alanon wife to a mad, lost drunk or a heartbroken, brutalized child to a smack-ravaged parent.

They will tell you, the wise ones, that the only sane way to treat an addict is with “tough love”: accepting that his horror is his own and deciding to cease being part of it.

The great difference in the cases is, of course, that while the addict can destroy both himself and those who love him most, the War Machine, if we continue to feed its appalling disease, can and will destroy us all...

Lying, deception, denial, are the techniques of addiction. All have been employed to convince us that its disease makes us safe, when in truth everything it does robs and cheats our society, bringing us decay, ruin and misery at home, and anger, hatred, and enmity all around the world.

Love never had anything to do with citizens’ support of the War Machine, of course, at least not for the sane. It was always fear that was used to enslave us. This should be liberating. Perhaps, if Americans could once see through the toxic cloud of cloddish, vapid, idiotic propaganda, and realize that no nation on earth threatens us as a people, they might turn their justifiable wrath on the mainlining monster that jeopardizes our society and all our lives.

It’s the only way to detox the monstrous War Machine.

“War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.” – Thomas Mann

Monday, August 13, 2018

Music Monday ~ After the Weekend's Post - Guess What!

Here's a voice worthy of the song!

Ain't this the truth? This version from the 1958 film:

Muriel Smith sang this for Juanita Hall because she could not sing the high notes in the [1958] film and they decided to dub her with Muriel, even though she sang on Broadway herself for the play version in 1949.

This snip is from the film featured in the weekend's post:

Saturday, August 11, 2018

South, In the Pacific with R & H - "Who can explain it, who can tell you why?"

Last week, in a thrift store, I found a DVD of South Pacific in a version I'd not had the pleasure of seeing - a film made for TV in 2001. In this version Glen Close plays Ensign Nellie Forbush, the part played in the original, 1958, film by Mitzi Gaynor. Another well-known name in the cast: Harry Connick Jnr playing Lt. Joe Cable (John Kerr's part in the 1958 film). The rest of the cast weren't well-known (to me, anyway).

I thoroughly enjoyed this version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. It'd be hard to dislike anything by that well-matched pair of musical wonders! The themes of the film are based on parts of James Michener's book of linked short stories about South Pacific Island life during World War 2.

After reading reviews of this 2001 version at imdb HERE I suspect that I'm the only person with a good word to say about it - I'm easily pleased, I guess!

Glen Close, of course, was not quite right for Nellie, as originally written - but I found it easy to view the story from a slightly different perspective age-wise. It wasn't Glen Close's age that mattered to me, but I did find it hard to see her as an unsophisticated racist "hick" from Arkansas - we know her from so many other roles, just too well - and no amount of decent acting could erase our ingrained image of her. Harry Connick Jnr was a tad underwhelming, but perhaps that was how he interpreted Joe Cable. I'm waiting for the the book to arrive from e-bay find out how Mr Michener originally described him.

The singing and dancing in this newer version, while not up to the best stage musical level, were adequate. Rodgers and Hammerstein's words and music are of such high quality, and have magic enough to carry a less than top notch vocalist.

I liked the fact that more background detail of the war was included in this 2001 film - it kept things more real and properly oriented for me, rather than being completely swept away by the froth of the lighter side of the stories being told.

I read, on the net, that another re-make of the film version of South Pacific was in the works (but some five years ago). Names being thrown around, then, for starring roles were Michelle Williams, Hugh Jackman and Justin Timberlake. Hmm.

I was sure I'd done a post on Rodgers and Hammerstein in the past - they certainly had a magical bond - but on checking the archives - nope! That needs to be rectified. Below are their natal charts - I'm interested to see what astrological links there were. Richard Rodgers was the composer, and Oscar Hammerstein the lyricist, by the way. Their greatest successes include: Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music.

A snip from HERE
As businessmen, R&H revolutionized Broadway. Rodgers and Hammerstein fully understood that the show is just half of show business, wrote business historian John Steele Gordon in American Heritage (1990). They became the first men from the creative side of Broadway to establish a permanent organization to handle the business side of what they created. In doing so, they built a business empire that earned them the first great American fortune to be based on creative theatrical talent.

Like ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers ], which had been established a generation before, R&H wanted to protect the writer; that they were writers themselves made the duo especially sensitive to the issues. They both detested Hollywood because there the writer was well paid but stuck at the bottom of the evolutionary scale; but on Broadway, on stage, they knew the writer could and should have control over his or her work. Producers held too many of the cards, they felt, and the best way to wrest some of that control was to become producers themselves.

Richard Rodgers born in New York City on 28 June 1902 at 2.3-AM. (Astrodatabank)

Oscar Hammerstein born in New York City on 12 July 1895 at 4.30 AM. (Astrodatabank)

Both men had natal Sun in Cancer and natal Moon in Pisces. Hammerstein had Cancer rising, with Mercury on the ascendant angle (excellent placement for a lyricist!). Rodgers had Taurus rising, with Venus, planet of the arts in Taurus, a sign ruled by Venus, and in First House.

There are helpful links between Uranus (innovation) and Jupiter (expansion, publication) in both charts, trine for Hammerstein, sextile for Rodgers.

In relation to the link above describing this duo's building of a business empire - I look to Saturn in their charts and find it well placed in both. Rodgers had a trine from Saturn in Capricorn (it's sign of rulership) to Venus in Taurus - linking business (Saturn in Capricorn) to the arts (Venus in Taurus). Hammerstein had Saturn in Scorpio in trine to...yes Mercury on the Cancer ascendant - linking business (Saturn) to sensitive word-smithing (Mercury in Cancer).

It's not hard to see, astrologically, why these two were such a successful pair!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Susan Dorothea White and Sins & Isms

Over the years I've featured so many painters, illustrators, sculptors and photographers on Arty Farty Fridays, that it's getting ever more difficult to find different faces, interesting enough to feature. When setting out to prepare today's post I settled upon Susan Dorothea White whose birthday it is today - only to find that she was featured in 2014. Never mind - I like this post and the images included in it - it'll stand a second airing.

Australian painter and sculptor Susan Dorothea White (born 10 August 1941), among her many and varied paintings and sculptures created two items I found especially intriguing: artwork painted on wooden table tops. Ms White's work, in general depicts the natural world and human situation, sometimes satire and irony are used to convey concern for human rights and equality. Her own website is HERE.

I'm featuring just the two unique and insightful pieces which immediately demanded my attention:

She explains:
The idea to paint both The Seven Deadly Isms and The Seven Deadly Sins of Modern Times, came from Bosch's circular painting on a tabletop The Seven Deadly Sins. I was struck by the novelty of viewing a painting by walking around its circumference, rather than standing before it. To paint a continuous, circular composition with interconnecting narratives was a challenge and an alternative to compositions with a single static viewpoint, limited by four sides. Instead of the enormous eye of God used by Bosch, I chose to enlarge he iris of our pet cat to represent Gaia, the goddess of the universe.

Her Seven Deadly Isms are:

Ideally, see the large image here. This small version cannot show sufficient detail. (If website is still unavailable see HERE)

"Each ism has its own deadly Australian creature. In Dogmatism, a crocodile is about to snap up the missionary. Dogmatism merges into Racism, where my Aboriginal friend is taken away from her mother, forever. The deadly sea wasp (box jellyfish) hovers illogically in the sky near a youth, who is hanging from a rope, representing the tragic Aboriginal deaths in custody. A shark seemed appropriate for Materialism, and a blue-ringed octopus complements the oil slick in environmental Vandalism.

The colours of the red-back spider fitted Fascism. In Sexism, women struggle to unroll a giant scroll listing names of famous women, while I am painting a deadly taipan. Marilyn Monroe bearing the cross symbolises the suffering of women as sex objects. Indifferentism shows people oblivious to the suffering around them; the funnel web spider seemed appropriate since it lurks in our comfortable suburbs."
(Susan D White).

The Seven Deadly Sins of Modern Times

I reversed the traditional sins, replacing each with its antonym because the opposite extremes are just as "deadly". A noxious species, introduced to Australia, symbolises each "sin". I developed a perspective based on concentric circles for this painting, and for the block-print with the same title.


large image here for full detail. If website is unavailable click on image for a slightly bigger version.

Ms White's choices of -isms and sins are apt and thought provoking. The artwork "just right" for the subject too.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Same Language, Subtly Different Cultures

In the early years of my life in the USA I used to read and contribute to a British Ex-Pat's forum. Subject matter often turned to the cultural and personality differences we new immigrants were quite surprised to find between British and American people. I've noticed a lot of questions and answers at Quora on a similar topic recently. Subtle differences between the English speaking races is a popular talking point. I sometimes get to wondering about astrologers in this regard.

When an American astrologer prepares a report for a British person or an Australian (or vice versa), or indeed for a person of any other nationality than their own, are cultural differences taken into account? Is the astrologer aware of the differences, or do astrologers say "people are people are people, and astrology is astrology, irrespective of the subject's nationality"? Do English-speaking astrologers of different nationalities use subtly different approaches ?

Although the "nuts and bolts" of astrological principles remain constant, how these are interpreted and expressed will differ from person to person, astrologer to astrologer, not forgetting that the astrologers' own astrological makeup has to be thrown into the mix. Beyond those individual differences though, there may be a blanket factor common to astrologers of the same nationality, who have lived with the same problems and joys, prides and prejudices. This has nothing to do with "Britishness" or "Americanness", stereotypes, patriotism or nationalism, it's simply a question of different experience, and the way it colours interpretation, understanding, and mode of expression.

Astrologers from past decades, such as C.E.O Carter (British), Grant Lewi and Carl Payne Tobey (American) seem to me to be further apart in their styles, outlook, and modes of expression than do current British and American astrologers. The world is shrinking fast, our common experiences are becoming more global than national, aided and assisted by the internet. I guess subtle differences will always remain, but with each generation these are likely to become less and less significant.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Question Everything !

This snip comes from a recent piece by the eminently readable Caitlin Johnstone:
Be Suspicious Of Everyone Who Habitually Defends The Powerful From The Weak

...Generally speaking, whenever you see people loudly and habitually advocating for the powerful side of a power discrepancy, they are showing you that they are servants of power. Their interest is not in truth, justice or compassion, but in helping power maintain itself. Being aware of this gives you a very useful tool for navigating a confusing media landscape that is immersed in propaganda, spin, and disinformation.

This applies across the board. When you see anyone advocating on behalf of the US empire against the latest Official Bad Guy Nation, when you see them advocating on behalf of the plutocrat-owned mass media machine against alternative media outlets, when you see them advocating on behalf of the Pentagon, the CIA and the Democratic Party against Julian Assange, when you see them advocating on behalf of fossil fuel companies against indigenous protesters, when you see them advocating on behalf of America’s increasingly militarized police force against unarmed black men, when you see them advocating on behalf of the wealthy against the poor, when you see them advocating on behalf of the status quo against activists and organizations pushing for change, they are giving you valuable information about themselves.
Illustration borrowed from HERE.

In the USA we need to question all that will be fed to us during upcoming 2018 mid-term elections, and the big one in 2020. In the UK much the same caution applies to what's being fed to the public about Brexit. Having questioned these things though, what then? That is the ultimate question to which I haven't yet found an answer.

Mercury has been in what astrologers term 'retrograde motion' since 26 July, and will continue in that mode until August 19. While the planet isn't actually moving backwards in the sky, it looks that way from our perspective - this occurs when Mercury passes the Earth in its orbit, and happens 3 or 4 times each year. It's really no big deal, but astrologers like to note these times being "something different from the norm", times when things don't always go exactly as planned. I'll not list the various possibilities for hiccups during Mercury retro periods, they are easy enough to find via Google or your favourite search engine. These times offer a useful period for fruitful reflection of things past. With that in mind, to finish off this post, I'm re-airing part of an archived post of mine (lightly edited) which, though some 8 years old points to things no less relevant today, and has connection to Caitlin Johnstone's piece quoted above:
From George Orwell's novel, 1984
"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?... Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5

1984 was written long ago. As a view of how Orwell's words still relate to the state of things, I offer a link to a film: Psywar - "The real battlefield is the mind".
The film explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the United States, with an emphasis on the “elitist theory of democracy” and the relationship between war, propaganda and class. This is not a high budget affair, but was financed via a blue collar job, and was released online for free. The interviews contained within are original and were conducted by proxy.
The film takes us back, with the guidance of some highly regarded historians and philosophers, over past centuries to illustrate the use of propaganda and manipulation of public feeling...mind it what you will.

Psyops (Psychological Operations), under one label or another, has been a part of warfare, and used by all countries, for centuries. It has included simple operations such as circulation of propaganda leaflets (as below), posters, radio broadcasts, as well as many more sophisticated and sinister operations. As well as being a part of warfare psyops are used to influence populations that war is necessary - remember those "weapons of mass destruction"? War, of course, is one of the most profitable of all events, but only for the power-wielders. Others lose their lives, their health or their sanity. Families are left devastated, on both sides of that divide of manufactured hatred.

Not always realised, though, is the continual use of a form of psyops on the population at large by those in power (and I don't necessarily mean a country's government).

One theory put forward in the film is that we are being manipulated because "the power-wielders" consider that "the people" (The Great Unwashed) are not fit to have a say in how countries are run in this advanced technological age. All power, and consequently all wealth, must be restricted to "the elite leaders". The power-wielders choose/designate individuals - candidates - for "election". This gives the appearance that these individuals are being "chosen" by the people. In reality the "candidates" are there only by permission of "the elite", and are there to do their bidding. This process is aided by a coordinated psychological operation using elite-controlled media as its front-line to push forward "candidate du jour" and denigrate others.

"The people" are, from time to time, given tid-bits of help, they receive just enough sweetening for those in power to avoid outright rebellion by the masses. Outright rebellion - revolution - is something "the elite" fear and plan to avoid.

Quote from a respected philosopher:

Noam Chomsky, Thought Control in a Democratic Society
“If in some Orwellian future there were One Big Owner, he might be benevolent, in his own opinion, as indeed, Orwell’s Big Brother was – in his own opinion. Big Brother let the public see and hear a variety of things he deemed useful – where there is centralized control, it is the One Big Owner who makes the choices…Each year is more likely that the American citizen who turns to any medium – newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, books, movies, cable, recordings, video cassettes – will receive information, ideas, or entertainment controlled by the same handful of corporations, whether it is daily news, a cable entertainment program, or a textbook…Media giants have become so powerful that government no longer has the will to restrain them…Now that media owners are so large that they are part of the highest levels of the world economy, the news and other public information become heavily weighted in favor of all corporate values. The new corporate ethic is so single-minded about extreme fast profits and expanded control over the media business that it is willing to convert American news into a service for the affluent customers wanted by the media’s advertisers instead of a source of information significant for the whole of society.”

Beware Newspeak! Be forever wary of what you read and hear, especially when what you read and hear will aid or profit "the elite" and the powerful.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Music Monday ~ Still Walking Away

The weekend's post reminded me of this old song - it'll probably be my earworm for today!

And a rather more recent, female, rendition of it:

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Saturday & Sundry Thoughts on Walking Away.

A short story by fantasy/science fiction author,
Ursula K. Le Guin, who died in January this year: Those Who Walk Away From Omelas, is an allegorical tale. The story is superficially simple, with layers of depth to uncover, open to a variety of interpretations depending upon a reader's experience and insight. Full text of the short story is available HERE.

A nutshell version:
In the city of Omelas, everything is beautiful and wonderful - everyone is happy, except for one small child, locked in a cellar. The child can never be shown the smallest shred of love or compassion. These are the terms on which the people of Omelas are happy, and they are non-negotiable. In order for their state of grace to continue, the child must continue to suffer. In return, once in their lifetimes, the people of Omelas must go down into the cellar and see the child who is suffering so that the observers can continue to live their happy lifestyles. Most of them enjoy the lives they lead all the more as a result of it, because they understand the sacrifice that has been made so that they can do so. Occasionally, however, someone comes out of that cellar leaves Omelas forever.

It's possible to relate the message of that story to a variety of real-life issues. There's no solution offered by its author, and no judgment. All is left to the reader.

If a reader is so inclined, the story can have a Christian interpretation: the child is a Christ figure, making it possible for the city to live joyfully because of the child's sacrifice.

My first reading of the story led me to relate the situation to the spoiled inhabitants of the developed western world relying on the sweat-shops and near slave situations in third world countries where so much the west has come to rely upon is produced.

That view came from using a wide-angle lens.

Pulling in, nearer to home, there are all kinds of injustices which echo the Omelas story. There's the ever-present problem of poverty, in one's own country and in the world. There should be no need for poverty, the Earth has always had sufficient resources for all its inhabitants to live comfortably - yet it hasn't worked out that way. A tiny - very very tiny - group of its inhabitants control the resources, and the wealth flowing from them. This leaves just sufficient resource for many of us to get by in relative comfort, but hardly anything for another large group who struggle to survive against growing odds: the metaphorical child in the cellar.

Solutions though?

Were those who walked away doing the right thing?

Were there no people who stayed behind and fought to develop "a better way"?

The message I took from the story is this: in every instance of any injustice what we should be doing is not walking away, but staying to fight. Too many of us are used to either complacently accepting injustices, especially when they seem to be to our own advantage, or walking away from them, to ease our consciences, but without even attempting to work towards changing things for the better.

"They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas." (Ursula K. Le Guin)

When I mentioned this short story in a post some 7 years ago commenters added these thoughts:

Gian Paul said...
Another angle: Domestic animals! At times one has the impression that dogs, horses, even cats (though less so) look upon us as if we were "god". They often quietly suffer, being alone, maybe hurting, or just not sufficiently occupied. Sure we can ignore that (or walk away), but not if we want to be "loved by them". So it's normal to "go down to see them", isn't it?

Sabina said...Well, walking away from implies walking towards and in this story I think it is the idea of another reality where no one need pay for the happiness of all to exist. The only Christian angle I thought of was something Jesus is reputed to have said about the least of these. Personally, while I am prepared to acknowledge the facts of, and limits of, life on this planet - including death, disease and natural disasters - I too do not believe there can be happiness and fulfillment for all while even one is excluded. It is a numerical and spiritual impossibility.

Wisewebwoman said...The cost of our "happiness" on this side of the globe is huge. I often think of the source of even every day items, what sweatshops and child labour might have been involved. Most people are deluded or refuse to dwell on such details. The devil you know philosophy. Yet we will all hunt the bargain and gloat over it without a care to its real cost. Shame on us.

Vanilla Rose said...Thank you. I must confess that I hadn't actually thought about people staying in Omelas. Perhaps in Omelas, there are experts who defend the status quo with great sincerity, but who are wrong. Perhaps the child could be released.
I'm still "walking away from omelettes" and other animal products, but yes, there are examples in life where staying and doing something would seem to be a good idea. Thank you for pointing that out.

Twilight said...Gian Paul, Sabina, WWW, & Vanilla Rose ~ Many thanks for your additional thoughts on this.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ George Tooker & Modern Anxieties

"George Tooker (August 5, 1920 - March 27, 2011) was an American figurative painter. He was raised by his Anglo/French-American father and English/Spanish-Cuban mother in Brooklyn Heights and Bellport, New York. His works are associated with the Magic realism and Social realism movements. Tooker addressed affecting issues of modern-day alienation with subtly eerie and often visually literal depictions of social withdrawal and isolation. Luminous, haunting and poetic, his paintings often conveyed a sense of dread, but could just as easily express a lover's rapture or spiritual ecstasy. Whatever the emotion, his generalized figures, with their smoothly modeled sculptural forms and mask-like faces, seemed to dwell outside of time, even when placed in contemporary settings. He was one of the most distinctive and mysterious American painters of the 20th century."
(From the text accompanying the following 7 minute overview of many of Tooker's paintings.)

From Wikipedia
His works focus on love, death, sex, grief, aging, alienation, and religious faith. He devoted numerous paintings to a single theme, investigating many possible variations to fully express the complex ideas conveyed. Tooker grew up in an affluent family, and his work reflects both his privilege and his empathy for those with less

Personal life
In 1960, Tooker and his partner, painter William Christopher (March 4, 1924 – December 5, 1973), moved into a house they had built in Hartland, Vermont. He was involved in the Civil Rights Movement and participated in one of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. He taught at the Art Students League of New York from 1965 to 1968. He spent his winters in Málaga, Spain. A few years after Christopher's death, Tooker converted to Catholicism. His faith was very important to him, as he was very much involved with his local church.

ASTROLOGY (briefly)

Born 5 August 1920, New York. Chart set for 12 noon as time of birth unknown.

Given Tooker's concern in matters of social deprivation and his recorded empathy for those who struggled, I wondered if there'd be a wee bit of Aquarius input, but there is none. Where I see his concern and empathy strongly reflected is in his natal Mercury in Cancer, and the Grand Trine in Water signs linking natal Mars in Scorpio to Pluto in Cancer and Uranus in Pisces. The Grand Trine forms a kind of harmonious circuit; when linking Water signs it indicates an individual who has an unusual depth of feeling and empathy for others - nurturing, unconscious aspects of human nature are emphasised.