Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Astrology is Baloney

Way back when, about 40 years ago, when I was finishing my undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota, a lot of what is now called "New Age" stuff was in vogue. I knew a few students who would hardly do a thing without consulting a horoscope, and I remember one student remarking cattily of her roommate that "whenever she gets nervous, she heads for her hash pipe." By the way, these were nominally Catholic kids.

About that time, I did an experiment. I read the horoscopes every day - one day late. That was to remove both sources of bias, for and against (I was "against" anyway). If I remember, the horoscope was totally wrong about 75% of the time, and mostly wrong another 20%, leaving about 5% of the time it was somewhat or reasonably accurate at having predicted yesterday. If I remember my statistics right, 5% chance error in any experiment is tolerable.

(There's a line in Thornton Wilder's play The Skin of our Teeth where the Boardwalk fortuneteller says "I tell the future. Keck. Nothing easier. Everybody's future is in their face. Nothing easier. But who can tell your past, -- eh? Nobody!")

Anyway, about fifteen years after that, I was researching a novel and had to know something about medieval cosmology, so got a book from the library called The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need, or some such, and read up on it.

I found that:

1, Astrology doesn't take into account the existence of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto;
2, Astrology says that everything depends on date and time or birth -- why not conception? (That will throw a person nine signs backward.)

And some time later, I found out that because of the precession of the equinoxes (look it up) the first sign of spring in AD 2000 is not Aries but Pisces (look up tropical zodiac versus sidereal zodiac), because the star charts the astrologers use are a couple thousand years out of date. So everyone is an additional sign off in the same direction.

Anyway, as Mr. Spock might have said, it's illogical and an illusion. I think "BS" or even stronger words will serve too.

Hitler was addicted to astrology; I wonder about BHO.

Last point: the Church condemns it (see the Catechism) and that suits me fine!

Monday, July 13, 2009

More Same Old Same Old

"It is said that in these hectic days no item of news is capable of holding the interest of the public for more than a week; wherefore journalists and news editors age swiftly, and become prematurely bald and bad-tempered . . . . A new sensation must be provided from day to day, and each sensation must eclipse its predecessor, till the dictionary is bled dry of superlatives, and the imagination pales before the task of finding or inventing for to-morrow a story fantastic and colossal enough to succeed the masterpiece of yesterday."

"I hope I never live to see the day when the miserable quibbling hair-splitters have won the earth, and there's no more black and white, but everything's just a dreary relative gray, and everyone has a right to his own damned heresies, and it's more noble t0 be broadminded about your disgusting neighbours than to push their faces in as a preliminary to yanking back into the straight and narrow way. . . ."

These come from books published in 1930. Here's something more recent:

"Simply to slap your audience in the face satisfies an austere and puritanical streak which runs in many of his disciples and sometimes, detrimentally I think, in Brecht himself. But it is a dangerous game to play. It has the effect of shock because it is unexpected. But it is unexpected only because it flies in the face of a thoroughly established convention (a convention which goes far beyond naturalism; briefly, the convention that the actors are there as actors, not as themselves). Each time it is done it is a little less unexpected, so that a bigger and bigger dosage will be required to produce the same effect. If it were continued indefinitely it would finally not be unexpected at all. The theatrical convention would then have been entirely dissipated and we should have in the theatre a situation with one person, who used to be an actor, desperately trying to engage the attention -- by rude gestures, loud noises, indecent exposure, fireworks, anything -- of other persons, who used to be the audience. As this point was approached some very lively evenings might be expected, but the depth and subtlety of the notions which can be communicated by such methods may be doubted. When we use alienation method just for kicks, we in the theatre are sawing through the branch on which we are sitting."

This was written in 1960 by Robert Bolt as part of the preface to A Man for all Seasons.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

T-Shirt for the Times

Some years ago, one of my sisters gave me a nice t-shirt, which I never wore much, but I intend to wear it often from now on.

It's from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Ministry of Sport and Culture (in Russian, of course), and has a nice hammer and sickle and gold star on it.

Now that we're becoming a totalitarian state and are losing all our liberties, I figure it's a good idea to remind people of that.

Ask me if I care

I was at a friend's house tonight, di sheynste yidishe meydl im velt, and one TV channel mentioned that they would be adjusting their broadcast schedule to work in Michael Jackson's funeral. Aside from our common humanity, and all that implies, what was so great about Michael Jackson that I should go into an orgy of keening and wailing over his death? I bet he's getting more TV coverage than Kennedy's funeral did in 1963, or 9-11 got. I think this is absofreakinlutely ridiculous.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Good one by G. K. Chesterton

I don't know when G. K. wrote this little poem, but it occurred to me Sunday evening:


The men that worked for England
They have their graves at home:
And bees and birds of England
About the cross can roam.

But they that fought for England,
Following a falling star,
Alas, alas for England
They have their graves afar.

And they that rule in England,
In stately conclave met,
Alas, alas for England
They have no graves as yet.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I had a nightmare

That happens often -- the price of age I suppose, and having many sins to atone for. This one was really bad.

Now that Obama (who calls himself President) has a veto-proof majority in the U.S. Senate (see below), we can expect all kinds of bad things to happen. It's obvious already, and has been for some time, that he considers the unborn to be nonpersons. It's obvious that he wants to "normalize" homosexuality, and make anyone who talks against it a perpetrator of a "hate crime." (Matthew Shepard was not repeat not murdered because of his homosexuality; you can find the truth if you dig).

By labeling a lot of religious people as hate peddlers, he intends to strike at the First Amendment. Note that its wording says "Congress shall make no law . . . . " But there are always executive orders -- which Congress and the Supreme Court can now be expected to uphold.

His relations with the Moslem world are disgustingly well-documented.

I think he would repeal the Second Amendment if he could -- and I do believe that he and his administration will do their best to gut it.

My darkest suspicion is that he's going to try to remove term limits on the presidency as provided by the 22nd Amendment, so that he and his people can be in power for a lot more than four or eight years. Read history. Whatever Hitler or Stalin did, Obama will try to do.

I must add that I believe the not-legally-president theory, simply because if he has nothing to hide, then why is he hiding it?

Also: The Jokester is now U.S. Senator from Minnesota. I have read his book Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them; a Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, which I don't honestly know if he means to be comic or serious. But I have read a lot of history, and I know for sure the book is full of historical errors. Whether they're mistakes or lies only he knows, but I suspect the latter.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm dreadfully afraid I'm right.