Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Wild Imaginings?

Could Donald Trump really become the USA's next president - other than in our feverish nightmares or scary daytime imaginings? Rational analysis says not.

Hillary Clinton Has Edge Over Donald Trump In General Election
This is a piece to watch, ratings will be updated
Hillary Clinton would have a significant electoral advantage over Donald Trump in the general election, based on an NPR analysis.

The Democratic former secretary of state would start out with already exactly enough electoral votes to win the presidency, 270-191, based on states considered safe, likely and to lean toward either candidate. The ratings, which will be updated at least monthly until Election Day, are based on fundamentals — historical trends and demographics, plus reporting and polling (both public and private).

But there is also the potential that this fall's presidential battlegrounds could be re-sorted — pitting white, working-class voters, whom Trump is appealing to, against Latino voters, who appear to be in Clinton's corner. Traditional ways of thinking about the map should and will be challenged. So in addition to our current ratings, we also explore several possibilities and scenarios, including Trump's potential path and even two potential ties, based on Trump doing well in the Upper Midwest and Clinton racking up wins in competitive states where the Latino vote is important.............

However, it's always wise to consider any situation from a different angle. As mentioned before in comments here, this election isn't like yer average general election in the USA. Third parties, this time around, are drawing more interest, due to much disaffection for, and frustration with, Democratic and Republican nominees Clinton and Trump, both have "baggage" which, unless blinded by glass ceilings or white supremacy leanings have to be glaringly apparent.

Why a Trump win in November, against all odds, isn't out of the question:

Donald Trump Is Going To Be Elected by Michael Rosenblum

Donald Trump is going to be elected president.
The American people voted for him a long time ago.
They voted for him when The History Channel went from showing documentaries about the Second World War to “Pawn Stars” and “Swamp People.”
They voted for him when The Discovery Channel went from showing “Lost Treasures of the Yangtze Valley” to “Naked and Afraid.”
They voted for him when The Learning Channel moved from something you could learn from to “My 600-lb Life.”
They voted for him when CBS went from airing “Harvest of Shame” to airing “Big Brother”..........

Mike Michaud's comment on the above piece:
This is exactly the sort of smug, dismissive, snotty, condescending elitist horsecrap that is ACTUALLY getting Trump wherever it is that he is getting.

Keep on sneering at all those icky troglodytes that are so far beneath you, you nasty 'broad-minded' and 'tolerant' and 'enlightened' jerks.

Keep right on hysterically denouncing and deriding and dehumanizing anyone who has the audacity to disagree with you and your disgusting hypocrisy and corruption, or, more offensively still, refuses to let you train them to be yet another one of your never-ending litany of oppressed victim-dependent voter blocks that 'need' you in power to 'rescue' them so you can earn your martyr sainthood merit badge. What on Earth would you have to humble-brag to your snob ivory tower friends about then?

Keep right on sneering... That is of course, while you aren't busy crowing and strutting about all the listening and understanding and perspective-respecting that you do.

I can, quite easily, appreciate both points of view. While a certain "dumbing down" evident in some TV fodder is undeniable, so is the glee with which those who consider themselves to be better educated, of more "refined" taste and higher intellect, love to criticise and scoff at those who enjoy lighter TV fare. But comment about TV fare is just one instance of the smugness, snobbery, and general atmosphere of hoity-toit that's certain to offend and inflame people. I've been secretly offended myself, in times past, when mentioning that I enjoyed programmes such as American Idol or The Voice. I can, kind of, relate to the feelings of those who enjoy some shows mentioned in the first piece above, when they read and hear critics of their taste. It doesn't stop there, there's a general feeling that one's lifestyle, one's choices, one's "non-college education", just about everything one does is constantly sneered at by those who consider themselves to be above and beyond.

This is one facet of the unremitting class war, 21st century style in the USA. It's not entirely political. There's more than a whiff of the adult version of bullying about it. When someone like Donald Trump appears in the adult playground, someone shrewd enough to understand what has been going on for generations, someone smart enough to use it to fuel their own dastardly plans, an opportunity for political backlash has arrived and wild imaginings ensue.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Coming Soon, Movie-wise

A re-make of The Magnificent Seven (itself a re-make of Seven Samurai). The re-remake is set in a different environment:
As the town Rose Krick is put under the siege of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, the residents enlist the help of seven outlaws, headed by bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, to protect them while they prepare for the anticipated violent confrontation. However, upon meeting the town's residents, the Seven find themselves fighting for much more than money.

The strange sounding Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Film based on book (often augurs well)- debut novel by American author Ransom Riggs. Tim Burton is involved - we should expect something very peculiar!
When his grandfather mysteriously dies, 16 year old Jacob "Jake" Portman travels and discovers "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" run by the mysterious Miss Peregrine. However, he is chosen to protect the Peculiar Children as an evil band of forces is intent on killing them, know as the "Wights" led by the mysterious Mr. Barron.

We're told that, movie-theatre-wise at least, things are about to improve. A summer of fodder aimed mainly at kids during their over-long summer break, or slightly older slash-bang addicts, made cinemas into no-go areas for many of us.
Your First Look At The 2017 Oscar Contenders:
Film Season Is Coming
Of interest from that bunch, for me (which doesn't necessarily mean Oscar-worthy):

Birth of a Nation
A 2016 American period drama film loosely based on the story of Nat Turner, the enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831.

The Founder
Chronicling the rise of McDonald's fast food empire, The Founder tells the true story of how Illinois salesman Ray Kroc met brothers Mac and Dick McDonald, operating a hamburger restaurant in southern California in the 1950s. Kroc subtly maneuvers himself into a position to take control of their company, which grows into one of the world's best-known brands after he buys the chain for $2.7 million in 1961.
I'm interested in this film mainly because I've blogged (twice) on this very topic in the past: HERE and HERE.

And, because I can never resist sci-fi:
When multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate, including linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams), mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Mankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers—and to find them, Banks, Donnelly, and Weber will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and, quite possibly, humanity.

It's Music Monday. Movies? Hmmm... Dr. Hook, a favourite old band of mine with a favourite track:

Saturday, August 27, 2016


By Rose Murray: Compare Your [natal] Chart to Successful Authors!

Streaming service Hulu will soon have:
"A spanking-new, 10-episode adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s seminal dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale."

The Mysterious Ancient Origins of the Book, an article by Keith Houston

I agree with these thoughts:

Old Books are best!...
What though the prints be not so bright,
The paper dark, the binding slight?
Our author, be he dull or sage,
Returning from a distant age
So lives again. We say of right:
Old Books are best.

~Beverly Chew, 1886

My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.
~Thomas Helm

The oldest books are still only just out to those who have not read them.
~Samuel Butler

Friday, August 26, 2016

Arty Farty Friday ~ Michelangelo...(and those horns! )

We've recently watched, courtesy of Netflix, the 1965 movie The Agony and the Ecstasy, the story, partly based on Irving Stone's biographical novel of the same name, deals with the conflicts of Michelangelo and Pope Julius II during the painting of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. It's a reasonable depiction of likely events, I guess. The film was made in the then current style used for epic stories (Ben Hur, El Cid, etc.) but the film comes over, in 2016, more as a lush, expensive documentary; but I'm glad to have seen it, at last.

I had in mind to blog arty-fartily about Michelangelo, but he is too huge a figure in the art world to reduce him to a tiny blog post. Michelangelo's astrology has been picked over many times. His natal chart can be seen at Astro-databank HERE.

A few pointers to his nature, as shown in his natal chart are indicated in a book, DESIRE and DESIGN: A Look at Venus and Mars in Action by Mary Jane Staudenmann, excerpt below from Google Books, HERE.
(Click on images for clearer views).

The sight of one of Michelangelo's masterpiece sculptures in the movie, that of Moses, brought back a question: those mysterious horns on Moses' head! I'd noticed these in the past, but never had the time, or resources, to investigate the mystery. This time I had Google at my finger-tips.

There appear to be two possible explanations for the horns: a mis-translation, or a symbol of power.

From HERE:
What about the horns? Scholars believe this was a mistranslation of Hebrew scriptures into Latin by St. Jerome, called the Vulgate. It was the Latin translation of the Bible used at that time. Moses is described as having “rays of the skin of his face.” Jerome translated it to horns from the word keren, which means either radiated or grew horns.

Horns were a symbol of wisdom and rulership in ancient times. Was Moses a descendent of antediluvian kings, those who reigned before the flood, as some interpreted it?

Michelangelo was not the only artist to put horns on Moses. Several paintings and sculptures from the medieval and renaissance era depict him this way and can still be seen on the streets and in museums.

In her book The Horned Moses in Medieval Art and Thought (Los Angeles, UC Press, 1970), Ruth Mellinkoff describes how prominent this “mistranslation” became in depicting Jews physically, as well as metaphysically, as being in league with the Devil. Of course, the best known – but certainly not only -- example of this depiction is Michelangelo’s magnificent Moses.

Most commentators have simply said that Jerome mistranslated “keren” as “horned” rather than “radiant.” But Bena Elisha Medjuck, a McGill University Department of Jewish Studies graduate student, offered a more complex explanation in his 1988 thesis “Exodus 34:29-35: Moses’ ‘Horns’ in Early Bible Translation and Interpretation.”[1] Medjuck explains that Jerome was well-acquainted both with the variant meanings of “keren” and with the prevailing translation of his contemporary Jewish scholars – with whom he consulted! Jerome chose the “horned” translation as metaphor faithful to the text: a depiction of Moses’ strength and authority, and a glorification of the Lord! Jerome even explained this in his accompanying commentary!

Horns were almost universally viewed by ancient civilizations as symbols of power, not as the negative or demonic symbols they became for Christians thousands of years later. For example, both Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun were described as wearing horns. Mellinkoff reminds us that horned helmets were often worn by priests and kings, with the horns connoting that divine power and authority had been bestowed upon them.

I can't help wondering why horns were seen as a symbol of power. Several attempts at explanation can be found on the internet, Wikipedia's page on Horned Deities is probably the most reliable and factual. In a nutshell, it appears that horned animals were held in great esteem in ancient times - rams and bulls for instance. The first two zodiac signs (Aries the ram and Taurus the bull) even depict these animals, as do the astrological glyphs for the signs, with associated astrological ages, BC.

 Isis, Goddess of Ancient Egypt
Power and virility were thought to reside in animals' horns - or so the story goes. Ancient warriors are said to have worn helmets bearing the depiction of horns. See HERE. Egypt was likely the source of continuation of an earlier belief, from there spreading through Greece, to Rome and beyond. With the rise of Christianity, though, horns slid into disregard becoming, in time, a pagan symbol of Satan and darkness, even became a common hand symbol for "the cuckold" (index finger and little finger extended, middle fingers bent to palm).

Those explanations, on the face of it, are plausible; something doesn't sit well with me though. Extremely early man could well have held his fellow Earth creatures in high regard, but for such a belief to have bled into later, more sophisticated civilisations, such as those of Egypt and Greece, seems less plausible. But then, I look at this through a 21st century lens. Donning my sci-fi hat (no horns) I could imagine a quite different source: something broadly similar to that Arthur C. Clarke wrote about in a novel I read a few years ago: Childhood's End. Arthur C. Clarke visualised an Earthly memory, surviving in mangled form, from man's earliest hazy days, half-forgotten, half-retained, its source way, way further back in the history of our planet than we are able, currently, to investigate. Fanciful? Sure it is!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"'Ello 'ello 'ello what's all this then ?"

As Virgo's atmosphere seeps in, I'm getting my own, minimal, Virgo on. I have only Neptune in Virgo, but it is in harmonious trine to communication planet Mercury. I'm allowed to don a uniform and play at grammar policing, just once in a while.
“And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before - and thus was the Empire forged.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

First, a matter of policing myself: 'til....till...until. I'd regularly noted "till" being used, even in newspaper headlines, rather than 'til, the version I'd always thought to be the only correct one, being the shortened version of until. I was wrong. It seems that "till" is quite correct, and was actually the older form, 'til having been introduced at a much later date. (See World Wide Words.) In spite of till being the original word, I shall continue using 'til because the word till has two other commonly understood definitions: as noun: a cash register or drawer in which to keep cash; and as a verb to till when cultivating the ground, for crop growing.

Britain, Great Britain, British Isles, England, UK - not really a matter of grammar, this, more of general knowledge. Those terms are not always interchangeable.
The UK – a sovereign state that includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Great Britain – an island situated off the north west coast of Europe.
British Isles – a collection of over 6,000 islands, of which Great Britain is the largest.
England – a country within the UK.
See HERE for a detailed explanation.

Effect and affect - this is a golden oldie for me, mentioned before in these posts, sighed over it, many times, when reading online.

effect = noun, produced by a cause; a result.

affect = verb, to act on; to produce a change.

Ongoing irritation: could of vs. the correct could have....UGH! Also, another constant irritation: go or went instead of say or said - even more of an UGH!

To/too - I think Americans have abandoned the double 'o' and use 'to' to indicate some kind of excess, rather than 'too'. I find this confusing, when reading!

Good, better, best isn't a problem but bad, worse, worst seems to be. I often see worse written instead of worst, as though the writer wasn't aware of a superlative.

Finally: "very unique" grates on me....it isn't possible. Something is either unique or it's not unique, it can't be more unique than unique. Unique = being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Once Again Into Virgo

About to begin copy-typing the Virgo section from Louis MacNeice's "Astrology", this month, following my current monthly bloggy pattern, I noticed that, back in 2010 I had already called on Mr MacNeice's book for some assistance in constructing a post on zodiac sign Virgo. I shall give my typing fingers a rest this month and do a copy-paste job instead, perhaps replacing illustration:

 Virgo by David Palladini
The Sun has now moved along the zodiac trail from the area western astrologers label Leo to that we know as Virgo. Virgo, the Mutable Earth sign ruled by Mercury. Mercury also rules Gemini (Mutable Air); it's somehow easier to connect Mercury with Airy Gemini than Earthy Virgo.

In a 1964 book, Astrology, recently acquired (more on this in tomorrow's post) author, Louis MacNeice, not an astrologer, but poet and scholar, has this to say about zodiac sign Virgo, quoting Ingrid Lind, a 20th century British astrologer:

Ingrid Lind once again asks straight away: "How can earth be mutable and mercurial?" And the answer yet again is in the other ingredients (though she says, this internal conflict does tend to make a Virgo type a worrier).
I like the expression "Virgo type", as against the more commonly used "a Virgo" - it covers my constant quibble that "there ain't no such thing as a Virgo, or an Aquarian...or...etc. etc. etc." I'll remember to use the expression Virgo(or whatever)-type myself in future. There are certainly "types" who clearly reflect major characteristics of zodiac signs and/or planets, though these people may not always have natal Sun in the relevant sign.

MacNeice then quotes astrologer (Rupert?) Gleadhow:

Virgo (is) "perhaps the most earthbound" of the 12 signs, but her earthiness is very unlike the earthiness of Taurus: Mercury could never rule Taurus. In fact the earth gives Virgo common sense and Mercury supplies an unusually keen intelligence. The two together make for disciplined thinking and acting.
Virgo is traditionally represented holding a sheaf of corn and, in western Europe Virgo's time of year is harvest-time. Granaries may connect with Virgo too - also the separating of wheat from chaff, in a way representing a very Virgoan characteristic: discrimination.

MacNeice writes that Virgo is thought of as the patroness of critics and craftsmen, but not of creators or commanders......Virgo is a great deal more than a sharp-tongued and keen-eyed housewife. It is the patron sign of Switzerland (which was to be expected), but also of Paris and of cats (no doubt because cats are so neat).

He tells us that Tolstoi is accepted by astrologers as a Virgo man, having had not only Sun and Mercury in the sign but the Moon as well. Which would suggest that Virgo CAN be creative sometimes, though perhaps what is most Virgonian about Tolstoi is the exact and conscientious way in which he tried to lead a new life in his old age.

Quoting astrologer André Barbault, MacNeice writes:
.......Anyway, the traditional Virgo type is somewhat dry and cold, a fusser over detail, a discriminator, a rationalist, a perfectionist, yet prepared to sacrifice himself. Barbault suggests that if the Pisces man is like an astronomer brooding on the infinite spaces, the Virgo man is like a biologist with a microscope.

 From Searle's Zodiac by Ronald Searle
As I've noted before in these blog posts, my husband's eldest daughter has Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus & Pluto in Virgo and has spent almost all her career in the newspaper business - how much more of a Mercury-type is there? Coincidentally her birthday is the same as that of Louis MacNeice, apart, of course, from the year. She matches some, but not all of the characteristics mentioned above. Her Leo ascendant (matching that of her Dad) accounts for her softer, warmer nature and sense of humour - more than might be expected from text book descriptions of Virgo.

Other posts on zodiac sign Virgo can be accessed via the Label Cloud in the sidebar, by clicking on.....well, "Virgo".