Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Annus Hospitalis

The story so far:
In February this year I was diagnosed, after a routine mammogram, with early stage breast cancer. I had surgery - a lumpectomy. All was well, except that the medication prescribed by an oncologist, to hopefully prevent any recurrence of cancer didn't suit me, possibly due to my aged body chemistry (I'll be 80 on 27 January).Pluto was visiting my natal Mercury as all this happened. (Mercury lies close to descendant angle in my natal chart, quite an important placement). As Pluto moved ever so slowly on, some time after surgery, I was given alternative medication, to also deal with early stage osteoporosis of the spine, as well as helping with the breast cancer problem. I began feeling good once more.

The plan is that I am to be checked every 3 months via either breast MRI or mammogram with ultra sound scans when more info is needed. Possibly this is just for the first year - or maybe for two years. On my 6 month check, last week, I had a breast MRI. I was called back for "more information" and an ultra sound scan. Dread returned to the pit of stomach!

I had the ultra-sound scan on Monday. I'd worried myself sick over the weekend. The fact that Jupiter was transiting conjunct my natal Mercury gave me some hope that the malignancy actually hadn't resurrected itself. The very nice, highly efficient radiology doctor, who remembered me from my previous radiology adventures, assured me, after doing three scans, that what caused the MRI to have recorded a problem was just some scar tissue. This will not be a worry unless it enlarges during the next 3 months, when he'll scan it again. If any change other than decreasing in size occurs, he'll take a tissue sample. He fully expects that all will be fine.

I was so reassured after the scan, I broke my teetotal habit, in place since last February, and we went to Applebee's to have a drink. A double Glenlivet and soda cleared away the weekend's stress!

My husband has had his own medical issues this year: new pacemaker last month, cataract surgery next month. This is not annus horribilis, it's annus hospitalis!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Music Monday ~ Autumn ~ Vivaldi's Music & Reputation

Most of the land is feeling autumnal now, even here in southern Oklahoma we see some Fall colour emerging. Antonio Vivaldi's "Autumn" from his "Four Seasons" suite fills the bill for today, but first, a little about the composer.

Vivaldi's name came up the other day at Quora under a question asking "Which historical music composer had a very bizarre lifestyle?" I was curious enough to go check out more about Vivaldi. Some sources tell that Vivaldi, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, was a source of embarrassment to Rome — and thus a source of scandal.

Excerpt from a Guardian piece by Susan Orlando, in 2008:


Vivaldi was born in Venice in 1678, the son of a professional violinist. His musical training was with his father but by 1693 he was taking steps to enter the priesthood as well. The year of his ordination, 1703, he was also engaged as music teacher by a home for foundlings, La Pietà, and it is here that the conjecture begins.

From 1703 to 1735, Vivaldi alternately, and at times simultaneously, played the role of music master and composer to the young girls living at La Pietà. Imagining Vivaldi in such a scene of temptation, in a role of both authority and intimacy among these vulnerable young women, has seduced writers and film-makers into fantasising about the erotic potential of the scenario. It is easy to imagine a libidinous red-haired priest exploiting the privileges of the cloth, in an institution that even 17th- and 18th-century visitors described with thinly veiled salaciousness. For the record, we know he had red hair, wore a habit and suffered from asthma, for which he was excused from having to recite mass. As to illicit affairs, we have nothing to go on.

A better documented trail leads to Vivaldi's muse, Anna Giro. In 1724, this promising young singer and her elder half-sister, acting as chaperone, moved in with Vivaldi. Anna first sang in one of Vivaldi's operas in 1726 and appeared in nearly all his operas after that. She was closely affiliated with him until the end of his life. Again, the titillating image of a "loose" priest comes up. In truth, this arrangement may not have been so shocking in an age in which priests traditionally maintained a life-long, live-in "perpetua" - a woman who dedicated her time to the priest as cook, house cleaner and general companion. But Anna held a special place in Vivaldi's heart; in opera after opera he wrote roles specifically for her, moulding the music to her particular vocal strengths and weaknesses. No other singer received such consistent attention and privilege from the composer. In 1738 Vivaldi was refused entrance to the city of Ferrara where his opera Farnace was to be performed. The city's new cardinal was making a moral point - his disapproval of a priest involved in the frivolities of the operatic world and living under the same roof as a female singer. But Vivaldi consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Vivaldi's natal chart is available at Astrodatabank HERE.

I note that his Sun was in Pisces, with Mercury, Mars and Neptune in Aquarius, Moon in Leo and Virgo rising. Those personal planets in Aquarius along with Neptune, ruler of his Sun might indicate a person not particularly bound by his era's customs, yet Virgo rising would indicate a certain meticulousness in his nature. It's a toss up, I think, whether he was really "saint or sinner". It matters little now, anyway - he did leave us some beautiful music.

Posted to YouTube by Melania Anghel, she added:
"Autumn" - "The Four Seasons" ANTONIO VIVALDI. On my channel you may also find "Spring", "Summer" and "Winter" similar videos by the same performing artists. This concert is played by John Harrison with the Wichita State University Chamber Players, music from Free Music. Archive .
ANTONIO VIVALDI "The Four Seasons" - This music was written earlier in 1727, came out in Amsterdam, Holland, "The ordeal of harmony and invention". "AUTUMN" Concerto N.3 in F Major Op.8, RV 293 is divided into three movements: cheerful, adagio, cheerful. Beautiful sound effects of the nature changing from warm to cold; I illustrated with colored red and yellow pictures in slide-show.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Where is THE LEFT in the USA?

I've been saying for years, to anyone who'll listen, that "there's no proper political Left in the USA". In 2015/6 at election time, Bernie Sanders' campaign proved that there is plenty of support for more left-leaning policies, more pro-working class policies, more support for the ordinary people of this vast country. We all know what happened...don't we? Media in general denied him the space given to ...well just about everyone else involved in that General Election.

Ted Rall has a very good piece up at Counterpunch this weekend, it highlights one major reason why the Left in the USA remains largely hidden, year after year:
The Left Will Never Thrive Without a Well-Funded Left Media Organization

A few snips:

On Sunday, October 23rd “About 1,500 women and allied men marched on the Pentagon on Sunday to demand an end to perpetual war and the funding of education, health care and other social needs instead,” reported Joe Lauria of the progressive website Consortium News.

Mainstream/corporate journalistic outlets memory-holed the event with a total media blackout.

One commenter on Facebook bemoaned national priorities: what does it say that so few attended the Women’s March on the Pentagon? More than 200,000 people crowded the Washington Mall for comedian Jon Stewart’s inane 2010 “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” a piss-take parody of protest, literally and by the definition of its organizers an apolitical march for nothing!

Cindy Sheehan, an activist who made national news by protesting her son’s death in the Iraq War at George W. Bush’s Texas ranch, responded on Facebook that people should show up rather than sit at home criticizing those who did on their computers.

......................Our real problem is that there isn’t a real, bona-fide Left journalism outlet in the United States.

One that’s smart, i.e., well-managed. Not in the derpy leaderless consensus style that destroyed the Occupy movement, but top-down by brilliant Machiavellian can’t-be-bought leftist schemers who know how to motivate and build an organization.

One that’s well-funded. Not by some control-freak billionaire who can petulantly renege on his big promises after he loses interest or gets corrupted, but by generous ongoing crowdsourcing that guarantees editorial independence to an uncompromisingly left-wing team of editors with big budgets to hire kickass investigative reporters, back out-of-the-box journalists, humorists and editorialists. Give me $50 million a year (wonder if the person who won the $1.6 billion MegaMillions lottery is progressive?) and I could build and run an operation that could change the world. It’s not impossible: Bernie Sanders raised $100 million from small donors in one year..........

In the 1960s the corporate mainstream media allowed antiwar, pro-civil rights and other anti-establishment journalists and pundits to disseminate their views on TV (Cronkite criticizing the Vietnam War), on the opinion pages of major newspapers and in bestselling books. And they covered protests.

No more. The Left has been ruthlessly purged.

Not one single opinion writer or staff columnist or cartoonist employed by an American newspaper is a real, bonafide leftist—not a single one even supported Bernie Sanders (whose politics are basically McGovern in 1972 and was supported by half of Democrats) during the 2016 primaries.
Not one single TV or major radio talk show host is a real, bonafide leftist. None supported Bernie.
The same goes for “liberal” outlets like The Atlantic, Salon, Slate, etc.
It’s censorship. It’s systemic. It’s killing the Left.

(Highlighting is mine.)

Do go read the full piece at Counterpunch. But...what can we ordinary people do about this problem? We can spread the word wherever we can, in conversations on social media, blogs, real-life chit chats and debates. Shine a light on the problem - that's what we can do at present, as well as supporting people such as Ted Rall who are able to shine a brighter light, with a much longer beam than our own.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Cubism, Picasso, Braque, and the Astrology

Eleven years ago, before Arty Farty Friday came to exist, I wrote a post on Picasso and Georges Braque. It was the anniversary of Picasso's birth yesterday,
25 October, an apt time to edit, generally tidy up and re-illustrate that old 2007 post:

In Nick Kollerstrom's article on fixed star Algol it is pointed out that Pablo Picasso, one of the creators of Cubism, had fixed star Algol conjunct Jupiter in his natal chart. Whilst I don't necessarily see Cubism as being fired by any nasty Algol influence, it's interesting to note that Georges Braque, the co-creator of Cubism, and close friend of Picasso, had Algol close to his natal Sun.

The hallmarks of Cubism are the "breaking down" of form and space into geometrical shapes. Cubism broke from centuries of tradition by rejecting the idea that art should depict a single viewpoint. Instead they used an analytical system in which three-dimensional subjects were fragmented and redefined from several different points of view simultaneously.

After reading HERE and HERE of the close relationship between Picasso and Braque, which lasted for a number of years, I decided to compare their natal charts.

"In the spring of 1907, Georges Braque visited the studio of Pablo Picasso for the first time. In the years that followed, the two artists, apparently so unlike in background, temperament, and possibly even in aesthetic, became essential to each other, forging a relationship that was part intimate friendship, part rivalry, part two-man expedition into the unknown. The young men were constantly in each other’s studio, scrutinizing each other’s work, challenging, stimulating, and encouraging each other. They went off to paint in different places and returned to compare results. They invented nicknames for each other, shared jokes and pranks, dressed up in each other’s clothes and took photographs. Along the way they invented a new language of painting that destroyed time-honored conventions of representation: they invented what came to be known as Cubism.

Georges Braque born 13 May 1882 Argenteuil, France. 9.00PM

Pablo Picasso born 25 October 1881, Malaga, Spain. 11.15 PM

They were born around 7 months apart, so the outer planets (Pluto, Neptune, Uranus and Saturn) were similarly placed in both natal charts.

There's a cluster of four planets in Taurus in both charts. Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts. Pluto, Neptune and Saturn are all in Taurus, and in Braque's case his natal Sun is present too, in Picasso's chart Jupiter makes up the foursome, fixed star Algol is a part of the configuration in both charts, which may or may not be significant.

The two artists' natal Moons were in trine, in Fire signs, as were their ascendants, which probably compensated for some of the more obvious personality differences stemming from Sun Scorpio (Picasso), Sun Taurus( Braque), and the clusters of planets in Picasso's case being in 10th house - the public stage, whereas in Braque's chart most planets lie between houses 5 and 7 - much further from the spotlight. Picasso is still a name almost everyone recognises, whereas Braque is now familiar only to those with a particular interest in art.

Natal Uranus lay at 17 and 14 Virgo in the two charts, trining some of the Taurus planets in each case. The close relationship between Braque and Picasso began around spring 1907 coinciding with the time when transiting Uranus (planet of change, invention and innovation) reached 11 and 12 Capricorn and remained in trine to their natal Uranus positions for a few years, very likely until the time when the two artists went their separate ways.

It has been suggested that in working together, side by side in the same studio, they may even have worked on one another's paintings. After the two men drifted apart, their work became more distinctive.

After Picasso and Braque went their own ways they remained loyal to what they had shared during these years. They never betrayed what transpired between them.

I'd guess that transiting Uranus in trine with natal Uranus played a significant part in what went on between the two artists. When Uranus moved on, so did their relationship.

 Head of Woman - Pablo Piccaso, 1909
 Head of Woman -  Georges Braque, 1909

More of the work of both these artists can be viewed via Google Image.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Butt Sensitive - Computerisation Gone Mad?

Instead of scribbling a post for today, I spent yesterday afternoon being passed from one "agent" to another at the Chevrolet "Customer Assistance" department. (Quotation marks used advisedly!)

We have a Chevrolet Impala of last year's vintage, with which we've been very happy, except for one recent detraction. When we bought the car, up in Nebraska last year, I found the passenger seat very comfortable - much more so than our 2015 Impala which we swapped-in as part of the deal. Recently, though, I've had a bit of lower back trouble from the passenger seat and have needed a seat cushion to assist. However, I noticed that when using a seat cushion the passenger seat airbag sign began showing as "off" - i.e. deactivated.

The car's manual, I later discovered, tells that one cannot use any kind of cover or cushion on the front passenger seat because it deactivates the air bag. We made enquiries of our local dealership when having the car serviced a few weeks ago. Husband was told that there's nothing to be done about it - that "they're all like this now". So, unless my car seat feels my real, flesh and blood, backside upon it, it ain't going to save me with an airbag, should we meet with disaster!

Computerisation gone mad, I guess!

I do not believe that I'm the only one with this problem. There has to be a remedy.

So, I decided that this isn't right, found a Customer Service phone number for Chevrolet, for some expert assistance. A couple or so hours later I was no wiser, but considerably more frustrated. Apparently they have opened "a business case" to be passed on to some person higher on the scale of knowledge about these things. None of the 4 or 5 folks I was passed around amongst had any idea that this problem is actually "a thing". It surely is!

The person supposedly "higher on the knowledge scale" called me back sometime after 6 PM (central time), and assured me she will try to find a solution, but cannot promise anything. She said that she had never come across this particular complaint before. I suggested that perhaps nobody else with an iffy back has noticed what happens when using a seat cushion. I am surely not the only person with an iffy back riding in the front passenger seat of a 2017 Impala, in these United states.

TSK! We await further information...or frustration.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Weather Forecasting with Ian Lang; Astrology Forecasting with...me.

I'm using two questions and answers from Quora today, one about weather forecasting, the other about astrology. Ian Lang answered the former; I, among others, answered the latter. It might seem that there's no connection between the two subjects. I do see a connection - however vague - so please do read on.
QUESTION: How accurate is weather forecasting these days?
An answer by Ian Lang, Leading Technician (used with his kind (blanket) permission) -
Not being one of those funny people in suits from Greenwood’s [Note from Twilight - Greenwoods is a well-known men's clothing retailer in the UK] that used to infest half of Bracknell I can’t speak for them directly, but having had to do fluid mechanics (which it is, albeit dressed up and on a very big scale) I can speak from that perspective.

When you’re dealing with fluids (gasses are also fluids) in an enclosed system, the best you can do is make educated guesses. The Greenwood Suit People (GSP) are very, very educated in their subject indeed.

The problem with what the GSPs do is manyfold and one of them goes by the name of Navier-Stokes. They’re fiendishly difficult, and those chaps at Oxford and Cambridge on here doing physics might like to go into the minutae of them but frankly they’d send me to sleep if I wasn’t so busy trying not to throw myself off the roof because of them and so I’ll just say that they’re used to calculate stuff to do with fluid motion and stress in it.

The Earth and its atmosphere are, as I’m sure you appreciate, a very large enclosed system indeed. You can’t possibly know the condition of every molecule of stuff there, or predict where hot and cold fronts will go. So, then, what you do is split the volume under consideration into smaller bits. With something so big, even smaller bits are quite large, and you might have a net in which each bit is 10km wide, 10km long and 10km high. In terms of something the size of the rock on which we live that’s a pretty fine net, but we have to remember that bits of stuff are continually leaving one cube and entering an adjacent one.

What you do is look at these nets and see what’s likely to happen. If you take some variables and give them a value, you’ll get several different outcomes depending on what values you have, and you can, with computer technology, run several variations on the theme and out will pop an aggregate with the most likely probability.

It’s not exact and it can’t be. What you see on Newsnight as a weather forecast may well have changed by six o’ clock the next morning as something that happened in Uppsala may well have changed the probability in Basingstoke from overcast to bucketing down rain.

So, then, the forecast for tomorrow will have a reasonable chance of accuracy, perhaps 70% or higher, and I’ve seen it in the eighties. It would be a very foolish forecaster indeed that said, with absolute confidence, that it will be fine and sunny all day without a doubt. I’ve never seen anybody say that there’s a 100% chance of accuracy.

You can’t do long range either. Every hour into the future you peer, the chance of you being right diminishes. If anybody is offering you a three-day forecast, take it with a pinch of salt. If anybody is offering you seven days, you may laugh in their face and call them a charlatan. If anybody’s offering you ten, they may as well be Mystic Meg.

Nature abhors a vacuum. It’s not too fond of weathermen either. But at least it allows the latter to wear suits from Greenwood.

QUESTION: There are many people who believe in astrology. If there are 100 people who are born on the same day and exactly the same time, will all of them be facing the same kind of situations in life as per astrology?

An answer by me, at Quora

“…the same kind of situations in life” is the key phrase of your question as I see it. You are not asking, primarily, whether they will share personality traits and characteristics- though those factors will, inevitably, feed in to outcomes of situations encountered. Try looking on the natal chart and planetary transits affecting it, as a kind of weather forecast, but rather than predicting rain, snow, sunshine or frost, the astrological forecast indicates periods of time when things are likely to be easy-going, and other times with potential for challenges of various kinds to arise.

100 people who share very similar natal charts will experience similar “rhythms” and experiences of easy-going periods and challenging, more difficult, periods of time, because transits of the outer, slow-moving planets, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto will be conjoining personal planets in these natal charts at similar points in time. The nature of challenges and difficulties experienced will be quite different for each individual, the ways in which challenges and difficulties arising are dealt with will be different, due to differences in each individual’s early background, location, education, life situation, and so on. Sometimes a challenge opens a door of opportunity, a chance of transformation depending on choices made. Here, and always, we're dealing with astrological potential versus real-world opportunity, or lack of it.

Natal charts of 100 near astrological "twins" would manifest in very different ways, but with subtle resonance in the rhythm of challenging times and easy-going times experienced by each individual.
I now see that I could have added a thought to my answer, in the style of Ian Lang: "If anybody's offering you a prediction of a specific situation happening at some future date, based on astrological factors, you may laugh in their face and call them a charlatan - or Mystic Meg. (Poor Meg - she gets blamed for a lot!)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Once Upon a Picnic

During my week of "unplugged" leisure we visited a few cities in Kansas, including city of my husband's birth and young years, Salina. Our wanderings also took in Hutchinson (known as "Hutch" to locals), McPherson and Abilene. Salina and Hutchinson had their 15 minutes of fame back in the 1950s when scenes in the movie "Picnic" were filmed there. Recognisable locations include the h-u-g-e grain elevators in Hutchinson - biggest I've ever seen:

Riverbank scenes in "Picnic" were filmed in Salina. When, in the movie, William Holden stoops to splash his face, my husband, just a young whippersnapper at the time, recalls that locals leaned over the bridge, to watch filming. As Holden began to splash his face with river water, a communal cry of "EEwwww - urrrr" was heard from spectators, who had direct knowledge of content of that water!

Anyway, no picnics for us, though we did rent "Picnic" via ROKU last evening to refresh our memories of the movie. We enjoyed it - but as, since the film was made, William Holden had become typecast as a quite different type of character, it was hard to "believe" him in this role. If the film had been made a few years later, Paul Newman or Burt Reynolds would have been a better fit.

We had a very pleasant few days away in glorious early autumn weather, lots of antique stores to investigate, and some beautiful Fall colour to be enjoyed; none, as yet, has emerged back home in south-west Oklahoma.

As it's Music Monday an apt offering: theme music from "Picnic"
"Moonglow and Theme from Picnic" is a 1956-released medley of both "Moonglow" (1933) and "Theme from Picnic" (1955), by Morris Stoloff. It is from the film Picnic, starring William Holden and Kim Novak.

The 1933 piece, "Moonglow", was written by Will Hudson, Irving Mills and Eddie DeLange. The 1955 piece, "Theme from Picnic", was written by George Duning. (Steve Allen set lyrics to the tune, and is credited on vocal versions of the song as a co-author, but not on the hit instrumental versions by Stoloff and others.)

The Stoloff version spent three weeks at number-one on the Billboard Most Played by Jockeys music chart in the spring of 1956. The B-side to the Stoloff version is "Theme from Picnic" by George Duning.

The medley was also covered by George Cates in 1956, charting at number 4 on the charts.

This is a nice rendition by the James Last Orchestra (with scenes from the movie)-

The original film version of the piece:

Monday, October 15, 2018

Music Monday ~ Meaningful Lyric Lines

I didn't answer this question at Quora, and from the 7 answers available when preparing this post I recognised only one song.

What are some of your favourite one-liners or catchphrases from songs you've heard? Ones which pack a lot of meaning into few words or which are particularly punchy?

Later, I pondered on the question for possible use this Music Monday. I came up with a few lines from songs which have embedded themselves into my memory - no need for Google search. These come to the surface from time to time, unbidden, and do "pack a lot of meaning into a few words".

Our lives
Are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss
The dance.

(The Dance - Garth Brooks)

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.

(Me and Bobby McGee - Kris Kristofferson)

You don't know about lonely
Till it's chiseled in stone.

(Chiseled in Stone Vern Gosdin. Songwriters: Max Barnes / Vern Gosdin)

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie.

(National Brotherhood Week - Tom Lehrer)

The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.

(My Way - Frank Sinatra. Songwriters: Claude Francois / Gilles Thibaut / Jacques Revaux / Paul Anka)

And, on that note I shall put up the "Back Soon" sign and take a week off.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Think Brexit is a Nightmare? It's a walk in the park compared with Battle of Hastings and The Harrying of the North.

Tomorrow, 14 October, in 1066 saw the Battle of Hastings, and Norman Conquest of England. It took place on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, on England's south coast. The forces of William the Conqueror defeated the English army and killed King Harold II. The full story of the Norman Conquest, and lead-up to it is told at Wikipedia, HERE.

The Norman Conquest was a pivotal event in English history. It largely removed the native ruling class, replacing it with a foreign, French-speaking monarchy, aristocracy, and clerical hierarchy.

Battles didn't end in 1066. What is known as "The Harrying of the North" followed:
The Harrying of the North was a series of campaigns waged by William the Conqueror in the winter of 1069–70 to subjugate northern England, where the presence of the last Wessex claimant, Edgar Atheling, had encouraged Anglo-Danish rebellions. William paid the Danes to go home, but the remaining rebels refused to meet him in battle, and he decided to starve them out by laying waste to the northern shires, especially the city of York, before installing a Norman aristocracy throughout the region.

[NOTE: One of my ancestors, on my father's mother's side, could well have originated from one such individual, his name does derive from the French - though whether he was an "aristocrat" or just some well-behaved servant elevated to overseeing a parcel of land and its inhabitants in the wild north is another matter!]

Contemporary chronicles vividly record the savagery of the campaign, the huge scale of the destruction and the widespread famine caused by looting, burning and slaughtering. Some present-day scholars have labelled the campaigns as genocide although others doubt whether William could have assembled enough troops to inflict so much damage and have concluded that the records may have been exaggerated or misinterpreted.

Pupils in English schools have the year 1066 engraved on their hearts (or they did in my school days) - it's often one of few dates to be so well remembered. A couple of 20th century humourists, W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman wrote a series under the title 1066 and All That, for the famous British Punch magazine. The series, later developed into a play and a book, is a parody of English history. I have a copy of the book on my shelf, so immediately reached for it when faced with Wikipedia's reminder of the date of the Battle of Hastings.

I'll not go into much detail of the book's content, it truly is an acquired taste, to the uninitiated, those unused to this type of humour, it'd sound just silly. You really had to be there (in England over many years) to "get it". I did notice something worth mentioning here though, with a possible astrological link.

Skipping through the years from 1066 to what's known as the Tudor Age (or Middle Ages), we come to King John, noted in the book as "An Awful King". During his reign, in 1215, came the Magna Carta, which I guess could be likened to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

1066 and All That parodies the intent of the Magna Carta, which King John was compelled to sign by the Barons (members of the nobility/aristocracy, mainly of French descent).
The Magna Carta, as described in the book, said:

1. That no one was to be put to death, save for some reason - (except the Common People).

2. That everyone should be free - (except the Common People).

3. That everything should be of the same weight and measure throughout the Realm - (except the Common People).

4. That the courts should be stationary, instead of following a very tiresome medieval official known as the King's Person all over the country.

5. That no person should be fined to his utter ruin - (Except the King's Person).

6. That the Barons should not be tried except by a special jury of other Barons who would understand.

Magna Carta was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus A Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People).

The Common People in most countries, even nowadays, are still in the category "except for"! And Number 6 sounds eerily familiar too. Things do change, but remain much the same.....as the French are wont to say, but rather more prettily - "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

An astrological note:
Does anything in astrology link to Magna Carta? Google searches some years ago uncovered something of interest relating to Jupiter/Uranus and Saturn/Uranus cycles, but the link I had has become defunct - as Monty Python would say "It's an ex-link!" Here are the details from that ex-link that I used in a post on this subject some years ago:

Human Rights: The planetary cycles of human rights

In astrology the development of human rights is often associated with Uranus and Aquarius, and the periods of history that coincide with the rise in awareness of human rights and human wrongs are usually linked with the Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Uranus cycles. But does this stand up to scrutiny?

This article examines landmark events in human rights in the UK, the USA and France, as well as major political thinkers/philosophers whose work influenced the way human rights were thought about and practiced, and looks for correlations between these and the Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Uranus cycles.

Landmark events
These are said to be some of the major landmarks in the development of the current Western thinking on and practice of human rights :

Magna Carta
15th to 19th June 1215
Saturn conjunct Uranus (approaching)

USA - State of Virginia's Declaration of Rights
12th June 1776
Saturn trine Uranus

USA Constitution
4th March 1789
Jupiter conjunct Uranus (the aspect is wide but approaching and growing in strength)

USA Bill of Rights
15th December 1791
Jupiter just past sextile Uranus
Mars on the midpoint of Jupiter/Uranus

Other examples were included too, but I have not kept a note of them.

The astrological observations on Jupiter-Uranus and Saturn-Uranus seem to hold true. Awareness of human rights, and the relationship between the establishment and the people, does seem to correlate with the cycles of these planets. How, or if, the fact that Saturn and Uranus are currently in trine aspect, between early degrees of Taurus and Capricorn (Earth signs), relates to the above remains to be seen. Guess what might soon become a "landmark event", major or minor, regarding human rights, and relationship between the establishment and the people!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Arty farty Friday ~ James Tissot & Those Gowns

 Self portrait
James Tissot
Jacques Joseph Tissot ( 15 October 1836 – 8 August 1902), Anglicized as James Tissot, was a French painter and illustrator. He was a successful painter of Paris society before moving to London in 1871. He became famous as a genre painter of fashionably dressed women shown in various scenes of everyday life. He also painted scenes and characters from the Bible.

Jacques Tissot was born in the port town of Nantes, France and spent his early childhood there. His father, Marcel Théodore Tissot, was a successful drapery merchant. His mother, Marie Durand, assisted her husband in the family business and designed hats. A devout Catholic, Tissot's mother instilled pious devotion in the future artist from a very young age. Tissot's youth spent in Nantes likely contributed to his frequent depiction of shipping vessels and boats in his later works. The involvement of his parents in the fashion industry is believed to have been an influence on his painting style, as he depicted women's clothing in fine detail.

Detail in his paintings of the beautiful gowns featured is incredibly fine - do take a look at the 6 minute video, to admire his talent - and those gowns!


Any stray passing reader interested in astrology can find Tissot's natal chart at Astrotheme. I see that his natal Sun and ascendant are in Libra - sign ruled by Venus planet of the arts and of beauty in general, with Venus itself in Virgo, the sign known for meticulous detail - what an excellent fit for Tissot's particular art style and subject matter!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Identity Politics = Divide & Conquer

Who Doesn’t Love Identity Politics? by satirist and political pundit C J Hopkins is a must read:


…Why do we love identity politics? We love them for many different reasons.

The ruling classes love identity politics because they keep the working classes focused on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and so on, and not on the fact that they (i.e., the working classes) are, essentially, glorified indentured servants, who will spend the majority of their sentient existences laboring to benefit a ruling elite that would gladly butcher their entire families and sell their livers to hepatitic Saudi princes if they could get away with it. Dividing the working classes up into sub-groups according to race, ethnicity, and so on, and then pitting these sub-groups against each other, is extremely important to the ruling classes, who are, let’s remember, a tiny minority of intelligent but physically vulnerable parasites controlling the lives of the vast majority of human beings on the planet Earth, primarily by keeping them ignorant and confused.

The political parties love identity politics because they allow them to conceal the fact that they are bought and paid for by these ruling classes, which, in our day and age, means corporations and a handful of obscenely wealthy oligarchs who would gut you and your kids like trout and sell your organs to the highest bidder if they thought they could possibly get away with it. The political parties employ identity politics to maintain the simulation of democracy that prevents Americans (many of whom are armed) from coming together, forming a mob, dismantling this simulation of democracy, and then attempting to establish an actual democracy, of, by, and for the people, which is, basically, the ruling classes’ worst nightmare. The best way to avoid this scenario is to keep the working classes ignorant and confused, and at each other’s throats over things like pronouns, white privilege, gender appropriate bathrooms, and the complexion and genitalia of the virtually interchangeable puppets the ruling classes allow them to vote for.

The corporate media, academia, Hollywood, and the other components of the culture industry are similarly invested in keeping the vast majority of people ignorant and confused. The folks who populate this culture industry, in addition to predicating their sense of self-worth on their superiority to the unwashed masses, enjoy spending time with the ruling classes, and reaping the many benefits of serving them … and, while most of them wouldn’t personally disembowel your kids and sell their organs to some dope-addled Saudi trillionaire scion, they would look the other way while the ruling classes did, and then invent some sort of convoluted rationalization of why it was necessary, in order to preserve democracy and freedom (or was some sort of innocent but unfortunate “blunder,” which will never, ever, happen again).

The fake Left loves identity politics because they allow them to pretend to be “revolutionary” and spout all manner of “militant” gibberish while posing absolutely zero threat to the ruling classes they claim to be fighting. Publishing fake Left “samizdats” (your donations to which are tax-deductible), sanctimoniously denouncing racism on Twitter, milking whatever identity politics scandal is making headlines that day, and otherwise sounding like a slightly edgier version of National Public Radio, are all popular elements of the fake Left repertoire.

Marching along permitted parade routes, assembling in designated “free speech areas,” and listening to speeches by fake Left celebrities and assorted Democratic Party luminaries, are also well-loved fake Left activities. For those who feel the need to be even more militant, pressuring universities to cancel events where potentially “violent” and “oppressive” speech acts (or physical gestures) might occur, toppling offensive historical monuments, ratting out people to social media censors, or masking up and beating the crap out of “street Nazis” are among the available options. All of these activities, by herding potential troublemakers into fake Left ghettos and wasting their time, both on- and off-line, help to ensure that the ruling classes, their political puppets, the corporate media, Hollywood, and the rest of the culture industry can keep most people ignorant and confused.

Oh, and racists, hardcore white supremacists, anti-Semites, and other far-Right wing nuts … my God, do they love identity politics! Identity politics are their entire worldview (or Weltanschauung, for you Nazi fetishists)…..

My favourite comment beneath the piece is by Tom Welsh:
"The Romans were crisp and down to earth. They needed only three words":

“Divide et impera”

[Divide and rule (or divide and conquer), from Latin dīvide et imperā, in politics and sociology is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy.]

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

"If a meteor were spotted....." with Ian Lang

Let us, today, forget all about the Supreme Court, the travesties of Kavanaugh, Susan Collins, et al for a mo and imagine something else, equally horrendous - something such as this, which appeared at Quora a while back:

If a meteor was spotted heading towards Earth, one week before collision, what would happen in that one week?

Someone whose name has appeared before in these blog pages had an answer:
From Ian Lang, Leading Technician, with his kind (blanket) permission:

"Donald Trump would declare it fake news on Monday, blame the Mexicans on Wednesday, and go on a molesting rampage on Saturday.

Certain writers on Quora would blame Brexit. And then disable comments so that we couldn’t point out that it’s got nothing to do with Brexit.

By Monday afternoon somebody would accuse it of “cultural appropriation”.

The BBC would run a rolling news service devoted to it, in which the word “doom” is never uttered. ITV would do newsflashes on it, in which the word “doom” is mentioned in one in three. Sky News would have the word “DOOM!” in big flashing letters underneath the newsreader, and Radio one would have it as a ten-second briefing, after the bit about Adele.

Flat Earthers would be insufferable. They’d be going about saying “even you globeheads won’t be able to claim it’s round when that hits!”

If it was heading to hit the UK the politicos would be screaming about Brex-hit and castigating Theresa May for not doing a deal with it.

If it’s found to be heading smack for the Brazilian Rainforest every Greenie in the world will be rocking up to NASA’s doorstep demanding that they do something about it.

The average British man or woman would go down the pub. About four seconds before impact, they’d be draining the last pint.

UK Railway operators would use it as an excuse for the trains being late. Japanese railway operators would do nothing visible until it hits, and then thirty-eight seconds later (assuming total destruction of their railway system) would have the trains running again and be apologising profusely for the 8:15 being twelve seconds delayed in departing.

In North Korea, nothing unusual would happen all week, because nobody will be told anything about it.

Sales of patio heaters, umbrellas, and Spam will go through the roof.

The UK government will advise us to paint our windows white and take off our doors four minutes before the meteor hits.

We’ll all ignore this because, as I mentioned before, we’ll all be down the pub finishing our pints. And probably watching football.

Extinction Level Event? Balls to that. We’re taking our beer with us."

Monday, October 08, 2018

Music Monday ~ Jeff & Haley (Goldblum & Reinhart)

I wasn't aware that Jeff Goldblum had musical as well as acting talent, until I listened to the video below and read about his upcoming album release (HERE).

‘The Capitol Studios Sessions’ is the highly anticipated album from Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra.

Goldblum, who has been playing the piano since he was a child, has performed with his jazz band at venues in Los Angeles and New York City over the past few decades. When he’s not filming, the actor hosts a weekly jazz variety show at LA’s Rockwell Table and Stage. Frequented by locals and A-listers alike, the show intersperses Goldblum’s love of jazz with his passion and skills at improvised comedy.

I was aware, however, that Haley Reinhart is a superb jazz singer. We first saw Haley some seven years ago when she was a contestant on American Idol. She didn't win, but came third. It's good to see her name popping up now and again; it appears she is, gradually, making quite a name for herself. Good!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Truth, Lies, Words - Why Bother?

Sam Smith - not the popular British singer - this is a different Sam Smith. He covered Washington DC under nine presidents, edited the Progressive Review for over 50 years, wrote four books, helped to start six organizations including the national Green Party, the DC Humanities Council and the DC Statehood Party, and played in jazz bands for four decades.


I've picked out just a few currently appropriate examples of Sam Smith's paradigms for this weekend:


The endless argument about who said what to whom about what demonstrates an illusion about honesty shared by all sides. America – including its politicians, media and ordinary citizens, have accepted a legal definition of honesty, to wit: if a public person can not be proved to have lied by the rules of a criminal court, he or she can’t be called dishonest and, in the case of a nominee, remains qualified for office. In other words, our standard for confirmation to high office had become no better than that for acquittal of a common thief.

But lying often has little to do with court-defined perjury. It more typically involves hyperbolic hoodwinking, unsubstantiated analogy, cynical incitement of fear, deceitful distortion, slippery untruths, gossamer falsehoods, disingenuous anecdote, artful agitprop, and the relentless repetition of all the foregoing in an atmosphere in which facts are trampled underfoot by a mendacious mob and their semantic weapons.

One does not have to analyze such language legally to understand its evil. One need only have enough understanding of the manner of the honest, the sincere and the candid to know almost instinctively when their opposite is in command..


The endless argument about who said what to whom about what demonstrates an illusion about honesty shared by all sides. It is yet another iteration of a phenomenon I first noticed during the Edwin Meese nomination hearings. It became clear then, and so many times since, that America – including its politicians, media and ordinary citizens, had accepted a legal definition of honesty, to wit: if a public person can not be proved to have lied by the rules of a criminal court, he or she can’t be called dishonest and, in the case of a nominee, remains qualified for office. In other words, our standard for confirmation to high office had become no better than that for acquittal of a common thief.

In real life, the truth must always be spoken, but the truth need not always be told. In politics, neither are necessary and both are sometimes fatal.

In 2003, I was asked by Harper’s to compile a history of the beginning of the Iraq war told entirely in lies by Bush officials and advisers. As I began to work on the project, I was reminded over and over of how little lying often has to do with court-defined perjury. It more typically involves hyperbolic hoodwinking, unsubstantiated analogy, cynical incitement of fear, deceitful distortion, slippery untruths, gossamer falsehoods, disingenuous anecdote, artful agitprop, and the relentless repetition of all the foregoing in an atmosphere in which facts are trampled underfoot by a mendacious mob and their semantic weapons.

One does not have to analyze such language legally to understand its evil. One need only have enough understanding of the manner of the honest, the sincere and the candid to know almost instinctively when their opposite is in command.

Yes, some of the Bush capos may have done it so poorly from time to time that they can be successfully prosecuted. But our ultimate standard for judging their words and claims – whether as a Sunday talk show commentator or as an ordinary citizen – should be an ethical and not a legal one. If we let such con artists get away with their ultimate trick – which is having us believe that if we can not prove their swindle we must accept it – we will have fully surrendered to their treachery.

I thought the truth would set us free. Instead it just seems to have made us lethargic.


We don’t have to worry about Trojan horses much any more. The real danger comes from Trojan words and phrases — appealing statues of rhetoric concealing the enemy.

Why bother?

Let’s turn off the television, step into the sunlight, and count the bodies. As we were watching inside, the non-virtual continued at its own pace and on its own path, indifferent to our indifference, unamused by our ironic detachment, unsympathetic to our political impotence, unmoved by our carefully selected apparel, unfrightened by our nihilism, unimpressed by our braggadocio, unaware of our pain. Evolution and entropy remained outside the cocoon of complacent images, refusing to be hurried or delayed, declining to cut to the chase, unwilling to reveal either ending or meaning.

We shade our eyes and scan the decay. We know that this place, this country, this planet, is not the same as the last time we looked. There are more bodies. And fewer other things: choices, unlocked doors, democracy, satisfying jobs, reality, unplanned moments, clean water, a species of frog whose name we forget, community, and the trusting, trustworthy smile of a stranger.

Someone has been careless, cruel, greedy, stupid. But it wasn’t us, was it? We were inside, just watching. It all happened without us — by the hand of forces we can’t see, understand, or control. We can always go in again and zap ourselves back to a place where the riots and tornadoes and wars are never larger than 27 inches on the diagonal. We can do nothing out here. Why bother?

Why bother? Only to be alive. Only to be real, to be made not just of what we acquire or our adherence to instruction, but of what we think and do of our own free will. Only, Winston Churchill said, to fight while there is still a small chance so we don’t have to fight when there is none. Only to climb the rock face of risk and doubt in order to engage in the most extreme sport of all — that of being a free and conscious human. Free and conscious even in a society that seems determined to reduce our lives to a barren pair of mandatory functions: compliance and consumption.

Life is a endless pick-up game between hope and despair, understanding and doubt, crisis and resolution.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Birthdays today: James Rizzi & Carson Ellis

James Rizzi, born on October 5, 1950; died December 26, 2011. He was an American pop artist who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.

HIS MOTTO WAS:"Keep on smiling"..James Rizzi studied Fine Arts at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. He came up with the idea of 3D multiples now mostly associated with his name when, having taken classes in painting, printmaking and sculpturing, he had to hand in grade work for all three subjects, but only had time for doing one. So he created an etching, printed it twice, handcolored it, and mounted parts of the one print on top of the other, using wire as a means of adding depth. Having received good grades from all three teachers, he stuck with the idea and developed it further.

Carson Ellis, born October 5, 1975 in Vancouver, British Columbia is an artist known for her children's book illustrations and her album art.

Influential artist Carson Ellis made her solo picture-book debut with a whimsical tribute to the many possibilities of home:

Thursday, October 04, 2018

That Club located in the Swamp

Brett Kavanaugh is the Swamp
by Thomas Knapp

In the hearings, Kavanaugh tried to pass himself off as a regular guy who worked his way up the ladder on merit, not connections: “I got into Yale Law School,” he pointed out. “That’s the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.”

Nope, no connections. It’s just coincidence that he’s a Yale “legacy” (his grandfather graduated Yale in 1928), that he attended high school at the exclusive Georgetown Prep (his father graduated Georgetown University), and that his father headed a large DC lobbying group representing more than 600 companies (the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, now known as the Personal Care Products Council). Surely Brett Kavanaugh would have risen to the top of his field even if he’d been born in a public housing project and attended public schools, right?

Kavanaugh is “in the club” and has been from birth. His arrogant and even angry demeanor in the Senate hearings seems less about the sexual battery allegations than about the gall and temerity of anyone to question his entitlement to a Supreme Court throne.

Brett Kavanaugh is the swamp. If Trump and the Republicans were serious about shaking up the federal government and breaking the grip of politically connected careerists on power, he’d never have made the presidential “short list” for SCOTUS, let alone have been nominated.

But they aren’t — and never were — serious.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Kavanaugh - Astrological

A quick look at the astrological side of Brett Kavanaugh. I did, initially, take a passing glance at Brett Kavanaugh's natal chart - a 12 noon version as time of birth, unfortunately, remains unknown. My first, and mistaken, thought before emergence of the current spate of investigations and accusations, on seeing an Aquarius trio of planets including natal Sun, was that perhaps Kavanaugh would be another Justice along the same lines as Chief Justice John Roberts, who by the way has a birthday on the same day as my own, 27 January - different year. I've since come to different conclusions.

Brett Kavanaugh born on 12 February 1965 in Washington DC. 12 noon chart, time of birth unknown.

Looking more closely at Kavanaugh's chart now, digging a little deeper into those Aquarius planets I noted that his natal Sun, at 23 Aquarius, is conjunct Fixed Star Deneb Algedi. How is that interpreted?

With Sun: Loss through false friends, high position but final disgrace and ruin, loss of money or property, sickness, worry through children. [Robson*, p.159.]

I also noted there could be (depending on exact Moon position) a Yod (Finger of Fate), a formation linking a possible sextile between Moon in Cancer and a conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in Virgo, to two quincunx (150 degree) aspects to Mercury and/or Venus in Aquarius. I'd see this formation, if it does exist, depending on time of birth, as an indication of an overly sensitive Cancer Moon being modified (corrupted even) by the eccentricity of Uranus and the potential darkness of Pluto, then emerging as inborn attitudes via natal Mercury and Venus.

Here's a good, and recent, rundown of Kavanaugh's natal chart by an astrologer I've admired since my first blogging days - Lynn Hayes, who now writes at Astrodynamics.

The astrology of Brett Kavanaugh

Monday, October 01, 2018

Music Monday ~ "Everybody knows that the captain lied..."

The most appropriate song for this week didn't take much choosing!

EVERYBODY KNOWS by Leonard Cohen.

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that its now or never
Everybody knows that its me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you've done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the plague is coming
Everybody knows that its moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that youre in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows its coming apart
Take one last look at this sacred heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

RIP Charles Aznavour who has died, aged 94. He may not have had the best voice of his generation, but his voice always, for me, had a certain warmth and ability to engage the listener, even when I didn't fully understand the French lyrics. Here, singing in English, for Music Monday: