Friday, 13 March 2015

A remarkable feat – two lists with no common members but a common conspicuous absentee??

Tonight as I was waiting for a Chinese meal for me and my mother – waiting too long as it turned out – I had a look in the old Hares and Hyenas homosexual bookshop that I had on-and-off read from my adolescence in Fitzroy (when it was based in Smith Street). Whilst I looked for books that might tell interesting stories I focused on one book I do recall vaguely hearing about called The Gay 100, and looked thoroughly through it.

Whilst, when I read more, The Gay 100 proved terribly flawed and over-speculative, I was struck by the fact that it had one thing in common with Benjamin Wiker and Don DeMarco’s better-written but much less palatable (probably not so if you live in outer-suburban Australia) Architects of the Culture of Death.

This is that John Maynard Keynes stands as the most conspicuous omission from both books upon my reading of them! What makes this remarkable is that none of The Gay 100 is listed by DeMarco and Wiker as among the “architects of the culture of death” (it is true that Margaret Mead, Jean-Pau Sartre and Simone de Beauvior are mentioned by Paul Russell in his text).

How likely is it, do you think, that two lists with no common members could have a common “biggest omission”?? It struck me so clearly when I was in Hares and Hyenas as to make me reflect all night, and I have not thought of an answer.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

“Great Sagittarius Conjunction” charts for selected nations

After having largely neglected it for some time, recent weeks have seen me more into astrology and charts than for a long time.

Six years ago I did two posts on the little-known 1899 “Great Sagittarius Conjunction”, and a request from the second post has made me decide to print up charts for various nations at the midpoint of the conjunction. This should show to some extent how these nations relate to the world’s culture today, but are mainly intended as illustrations.


The “Great Sagittarius Conjunction” charts for Europe, below, shows the conjunction in “small” (in zodiacal longitude covered) eighth and ninth houses, with Pisces rising in Britain and Aries or Taurus (example not shown) on the continent. These house positions, along with the assertive Aries Ascendant, symbolise the passionate cultural conflicts and tight relationship with government (people voluntarily sacrifice economic freedom for protection of personal rights) that have typified twentieth-century Europe.

Arab World

In the two representative charts for the Arab World below, we see the conjunction in the seventh house in the east of the Arab world and in the ninth and tenth in the west. The seventh-house location of the conjunction for Saudi Arabia shows the status of the Middle East as the centre of the world’s wars and diplomatic conflicts, whilst the Taurus Ascendant symbolises the role of the eastern Arab world

Russia/Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

In this chart for Moscow, we see the conjunction in the seventh and sixth houses with Gemini rising (an Ascendant that was very common at the midpoint of the conjunction throughout the vast Eurasian landmass). This may on one level symbolise the decline of Russian art as the planets are setting, whilst the worldly, sceptical Gemini Ascendant and the materialistic, internationalist seventh house presence symbolises how Russia dedicated itself to extremely secular ideologies via the Bolshevik Revolution and Comintern.
The eastern parts of Russia (not shown) have Leo or Virgo Ascendants, which may symbolise their role in the industrial growth of Russia in the former case, and their continued remoteness and enforced isolation with the Far East – accessible only to resident Soviet citizens during Stalinist times.

East Asia

Most of East Asia had Leo rising during the conjunction – located in the natural house of Leo as shown below for eastern China (Japan and Korea are too similar to show).
This fifth house position suggests strong creativity as well as the power implied by the Leo Ascendant and the Aries Midheaven, which shows East Asia breaking new ground and discarding old traditions– not always in a positive manner, as seen by Maoist China’s mass murder and the cruelty of Japan during World War II.

South and Central Asia

As shown below, South Asia and Central Asia had late Gemini or early Cancer on the Ascendant during the “Great Sagittarius Conjunction”. Together with the conjunction’s position entirely in the sixth house, this shows how this region’s ambitions have been much more modest than East Asia. With Pisces on the Midheaven in most of the region, there has been greater retention of spiritual traditions in India than in East Asia, especially with Neptune right on the Indian Ascendant.


As illustrated below, Eastern Australia had powerful Leo on the Ascendant during the conjunction, and Western Australia (along with Tasmania, which is not shown) motherly Cancer. These symbolise Australia’s position as a future superpower with its vast lithophile metal ores that have allowed the spread of the Industrial Revolution.
The Taurus Midheaven symbolises Australia’s role as the world’s low-price breadbasket with its monopoly on the world’s exploitable flat land – once its severe chalcophile nutrient deficiencies were understood and corrected. The Aries Midheaven of Western Australia symbolises, on one level, the constant exploration of the ancient craton for lithophile minerals, and on another level along with the Cancer Ascendant continuing prejudice against the Aborigines – who were specially adapted to a relictual continent more akin to the pre-Oligocene “greenhouse” Earth than to other extant landmasses.

The Western Hemisphere

As shown in the attached file to the left, the contiguous United States had either Scorpio or Sagittarius on the Ascendant. Having these signs on the Ascendant, vis-à-vis those signs found there in the Eurasia, symbolises the more religious nature of American culture. The presence of the conjunction in the Eastern Hemisphere suggests the US is more able to place religion in the public sphere than Eurasia, except for the East with its Libra Midheaven.

Latin America mainly had Capricorn on the Ascendant, as shown for Colombia, but true for most Andean and Southern Cone nations as far south as Punta Arenas. This symbolises a more subtle secularisation than found in Eurasia, but equally definite despite the conjunction being at least partly in the hidden twelfth house. Brazil and Argentina (not shown) had Aquarius rising, which symbolises the inflexible and often original (e.g. liberation theology) popular movements of these regions.

New Zealand and nearby Pacific islands had Virgo rising, which fits in with their relatively modest role and lack of global ambition in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

100 Most Wanted Out-of-Print Books by Abebooks: fascinating even with nothing I’m eager for

Today, the book seller Abebooks put together its annual list of the “100 Most Wanted Out of Print Books”. The list was first published in 2003, and has become an annual event.

In my younger days, the fact of a book being out of print attracted a lot of attention especially if I could find it in a library. With the exception of certain special topics (and by no means all specialist topics) where the perspective of the past time is critical – for example football or rugby club histories – this is not so much the case nowadays. In most cases, an easily-found book will do “the trick” just as well as something that is rare and expensive – though, again with old Wisdens there is a conspicuous exception and even the Willows reprints can be costly.

Most of the books listed below have been on the list for a number of years and in many cases the authors – sometimes very well-known people as with Sex’s author Madonna and for vice-President Dick Cheney’s wife’s Sisters – will refuse requests for a reprint or even a print-on-demand copy.
  1. On the Psychology of Military Incompetence by Norman F. Dixon
  2. The Lovely Reed: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Building Bamboo Fly Rods by Jack Howell
  3. Sex by Madonna
  4. The Body by Stephen King
  5. Rage by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  6. The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
  7. The Road We Are Traveling by Stuart Chase
  8. On the Nature and Existence of God by Richard M. Gale
  9. 365 Bedtime Stories by Nan Gilbert
  10. Collector’s Guide to Colt .45 Service Pistols by Charles W. Clawson
  11. Dark Carnival by Ray Bradbury
  12. The Harvard Classics (51 volumes) edited by Charles W. Eliot
  13. A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent and Mary Price
  14. Promise Me Tomorrow by Nora Roberts
  15. The Jerusalem Bible by Salvador Dalí
  16. Vibration Analysis for Electronic Equipment by Dave S. Steinberg
  17. Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe
  18. Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor by Joseph Zbukvić
  19. The Thwarting of Laplace’s Demon: Arguments Against the Mechanistic World-View by Richard Green
  20. Arithmetic Progress Papers by H. Henry Thomas
  21. Racing Toward Judgment by David R Wilkerson
  22. My Pretty Pony by Stephen King
  23. Cards As Weapons by Ricky Jay
  24. History of Art by H.W. Janson
  25. The Angelique Series by Sergeanne (Anne) Golon
  26. Murmurs of Earth by Carl Sagan
  27. Ilsa by Madeleine L‘Engle
  28. The Modern Gunsmith by James Virgil Howe
  29. Mandingo by Kyle Onstott
  30. The Afronauts by Cristina de Middel
  31. Airport by Arthur Hailey
  32. British General Staff: Reform and Innovation by David French
  33. 102 Favorite Paintings by Norman Rockwell
  34. The Pink Dress by Anne Alexander
  35. An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion by Dorothea Lange
  36. Sisters by Lynne Cheney
  37. Unintended Consequences by John Ross
  38. War in the Modern Great Power System 1495-1975 by Jack S. Levy
  39. Pookie by Ivy Wallace
  40. Fly Fishing: Memories of Angling Days by J.R. Hartley
  41. Analysis of Beam Grids and Orthotropic Plates by the Guyon-Massonet-Bares Method by Richard Bares and Charles Ernest Massonet
  42. Cyborg by Martin Caidin
  43. Golden Book of the Civil War by Charles Flato
  44. I Go Pogo by Walt Kelly
  45. Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth by David Wilkerson
  46. A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt
  47. Hell, I Was There by Elmer Keith
  48. A Pattern Book of Tatting by Mary Konior
  49. The Book of Indians by Holling C. Holling
  50. Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Linda Dawson and Terry Furchgott
  51. Women Are Beautiful by Garry Winogrand
  52. Basic Building Data: 10,000 Timeless Construction Facts by Don Graf
  53. In A Dark Place by Ray Garton
  54. A Complete Guide to Learning and Understanding Chi Mind Control by Mike Dayton
  55. Man in Black: His Own Story in His Own Words by Johnny Cash
  56. The Bumper Book, A Harvest of Stories and Verses by Watty Piper
  57. The Act of Creation by Arthur Köstler
  58. Be Not Conformed to This World: a Narrative History of the Weaverland Mennonites, 1900-1975 by Roy Burkholder
  59. The King Ranch by Tom Lea
  60. The Riddle of Steel : Roleplaying with an Edge by Jacob Norwood
  61. Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns by Barbara Brackman
  62. The Holy Bible by Rev. Alfred Nevin
  63. The Big Country by Donald Hamilton
  64. Open Water Swimming by Penny Lee Dean
  65. Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor: the Critical Ingredients That Turn Paintings into Art by Joseph Zbukvić
  66. Anglo-French relations and strategy on the Western Front 1914-18 by William James Philpott
  67. Crochet Lace: An Illustrated Guide to Making Crochet Lace Fabrics by Mary Konior
  68. First Lessons in Drawing and Painting by Jack Hamm
  69. Stuart: A History of the American Light Tank by R.P. Hunnicutt
  70. Turkish Delight by Jan Wolkers
  71. Categories, Bundles and Spacetime Topology by C.T.J. Dodson
  72. To Drop A Dime by Paul Hoffman
  73. Anybody Can Do Anything by Betty MacDonald
  74. Kalinda by Evan Green
  75. Lost Tribes and Promised Lands: The Origins of American Racism by Ronald Sanders
  76. Professional Pattern Grading for Women’s, Men’s, and Children’s Apparel by Jack Handford
  77. Sam’s Sandwich by David Pelham
  78. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor
  79. Kelso’s Shrug Book by Paul Kelso
  80. The Negro motorist green book: an international travel guide by Victor H Green
  81. We by Charles Lindbergh
  82. The Story of Civilization by Will Durant
  83. The Barrakee Mystery by Arthur W. Upfield
  84. The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy
  85. Isms and Ologies: A Guide to Unorthodox and Non-Christian Beliefs by Arnold Kellett
  86. Precious Souls: A Culture Unraveling by Nazareth V. Asorian
  87. Impact Dynamics by Jonas A. Zukas
  88. The Theory of Isotope Separation as Applied to the Large Scale Production of U235 by Karl P. Cohen
  89. This World and That: The Autobiography of a Diver by Thomas Ferris Milne
  90. Directory of Alternative Communities in the British Isles by Michele
  91. The Erotic Art of Edgar Britton by Jane Hilberry
  92. Halloween by Curtis Richards
  93. A Different Kind of Life by Virginia Williams
  94. The Innovators The New Holland Story Hardcover by Homer K. Luttringer
  95. South African Botanical Art: Peeling Back the Petals by Marion Arnold
  96. The Airgun from Trigger to Target by Gerard Michael Cardew and G.V. Cardew
  97. Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor by Seth A. Klarman
  98. Birds of Britain by John D. Green
  99. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison
  100. Beyond the Plough by Janet Woods
On the whole, some of these books, notably those on the Mennonites, Milne’s autobiography and Richard Green’s work on mechanistic worldviews, would be of interest to me. Most of the rest, however, certainly stand at least largely replaceable.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A taste of Western Tassie

Today, the third day of our holiday, we decided to take a long drive to Lake Pedder, the lake famous for its role in environmental protection of South West Tasmania after the Hydro-Electric Commission (now known as Hydro Tasmania) managed to drown the original tarn to create a major power dam.

In contrast to the previous day’s journey to Richmond and Swansea, we knew Pedder would be far from even basic provisions, so after we awakened after a poor sleep due to noise from a fully opened window, we went to the Hobart Market which was open for this Saturday morning. The shops we had visited on Thursday were tough to recognise because of the market (though I eventually did do so) and there was a wide variety of the gourmet food for which Tasmania has become renowned. I did buy a pork and bacon sausage – we cannot have large breakfasts in out small hotel room – and it was very tasty.

We had to embark upon the trip almost immediately after returning to the room, so we boarded the car with provisions of apples, bananas, rolls, paté and cheese, and searched for the road to Pedder. Once Mummy had found the road to Pedder after an early detour in the lower Derwent Valley, we drove steadily across very varied and hilly terrain so typical of Tasmania. At first there was hop-growing country, then dry sclerophyll forest, then wet sclerophyll, areas of rainforest and then plateau moorland as we approached Lake Pedder and the company town of Strathgordon. I had dozed off at times during the trip, but still saw some beehives and flowering shrubs that were different from the vegetation I knew in Victoria. There were some closed beehives for the famous leatherwood honey what I sometimes buy despite its high price in Woolworths.
This is a view of Southwest Tasmania from the company town of Strathgordon.

This is a picture of Southwest Tasmanian scenery – cool, wet and bleak – from the road.
When we reached Lake Pedder and Strathgordon, we had a simple but very tasty lunch and had our first look at the quiet, lonely moorland scenery, which Mummy admired for its silence rather like Sara Maitland did Scotland’s moors (where she has lived for a decade) in her 2008 A Book of Silence. Mummy in fact compared Western Tassie with Scotland, a comparison which I understood because of reading Maitland – whom I knew for a long time beforehand and recognise as a modern heir to the Catholic Decadents of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. I consequently came to look more closely at the landscape and its cool, wet, windswept moors, as well as the animal life – on a brief look at the forest on the way I had heard a beautiful small bird but could not recognise it.

The trip back – even if I was criticised for talking about topics like stigmata and inedia – was actually more interesting that the outward trip. We had a beautiful afternoon tea of coffee, carrot cake, and an orange and almond cake similar to one I cook frequently at home – only denser with coconut added. An unusual sight was a group of Superb Fairywrens (Malurus cyaneus) on the opposite side of the Derwent, which I knew were fairywrens although I could not see them. As I looked more carefully for birds, I saw another fairywren on the way back to out Hobart hotel, as we saw a number of fruit orchards (especially cherries) that were not visible going to Pedder.
This is a picture of the Derwent River as seen on the highway to Strathgordon.
The trip was extremely enjoyable and the weather, with an easterly flow, unusually fine in the normally hyperhumid southwest of Tasmania. Around midday there was some blue sky for the first time in out stay in Tassie, and the warm sun made the weather – which ranged from 20˚C in Hobart to a mild 14˚C in some of the cool forests – considerably hotter than it felt yesterday.

Friday, 9 January 2015

A first glance at Tassie

On Thursday morning, I went for the first time to Tasmania – whose weather my consistent praise had long made my mother and brother wish to take me.

I regrettably had only four hours sleep on Thursday morning – though it was very good sleep given the hot, humid night that resembled an equatorial climate – and despite a delay from refuelling we got to Hobart in good time and despite an inordinate delay getting a rental car we still had a lot of time to look at Hobart itself.

Hobart is a hilly, sprawling city, surrounded by fairly steep green hills and a deeply indented coastline. The city itself is of only moderate size, with no more than one hundred and seventy thousand people, though the central business district where we were staying is still fairly dense. Many Hobart streets – including some very wide ones – are one-way, which severely confused Mummy when she tried to drive though them. We climbed to the top of Mount Nelson, which gives even on a wet, misty day impressive views of Hobart, and then descended the mountain to have a look around Battery Point, where we had an ice cream and sat on the wall overlooking the water.

Although the weather yesterday was rainy despite the total rainfall being listed as a moderate 5.4 millimetres or 0.21 inches – 10 mm in a January day has been reported in Hobart 154 times since 1894, with 25 mm or more on 34 occasions – it was by no means unpleasant as it was merely warm and cloudy with a breeze. We had a good look at the shops near Hobart’s port, and I had a really nice chicken burger for lunch with some cheese. We then had another walk around the pier and port, during which we managed to see numerous interesting sights and old buildings.

I was too tired to do much after we did a little shopping and had a ham and cheese roll for dinner, so I slept very soundly this morning. We had decided yesterday that we would go to Swansea – the place in Tassie that I have often claimed as having absolutely the best climate in Australia and one of the half-dozen best in the world – and we saw not only more Hobart sprawl and the hills, but even got to feed some tame grey kangaroos at the Tasmanian Devil sanctuary in Bonorong. Although almost all marsupials are nocturnal, we could actually see Tasmanian Devils outside, though they were mainly very old animals that were not breeding. Many of the animals at Bonorong were injured on roads – this is common with the beautiful Tawny Frogmouth – and could not survive in the wild but were still very interesting to watch. In fact, looking at the Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus funereus) attracted so much of my attention that I did not focus on the Tasmanian Devils.
Here I am feeding a number of tame grey kangaroos at the sanctuary.
We also saw wombats, a tiger snake, and lorikeets at the sanctuary.
These are some female Tasmanian Devils at the sanctuary. They are normally nocturnal, but were active while we were there at around 10:00
We next went to the historic town of Richmond, which in common with so much of Europe and East Asia where agriculture can no longer compete with land-rich Australia and Africa, has become devoted to tourism. Richmond actually was a very well-maintained small town owing to its history – with the oldest bridge and oldest Catholic Church in Tasmania – and we saw some rails for the first time along with some unidentified small birds under the bridge. Lunch was a lovely steak pie, but we heard sad news about my uncle being close to death.

We went again on winding coastal roads to Triabunna and Swansea, where we turned round since the ferry to Maria Island was unaffordable. The scenery changed notably from the relatively fertile ‘black earths’ to the typical ancient red texture-contrast soils (‘Acrisols’) of Australia – found elsewhere at so high a latitude only in much wetter climates on very poor parent materials in California. Most of the towns, whilst no so “touristy” as Richmond, were still influenced by tourism – a fate normal in so many places as they cannot compete (due to expensive land and labour) with Australia and Africa in their former mainstay of agriculture. At Swansea, I was very nervous on the beach about getting sand into my clothes and walked about aimlessly on the beach before briefly sitting down. I had a large cappuccino but my brother thought I was too rude asking for more chocolate, and then we returned to Hobart. After a rest as I remained very tired, I went to look for a Chinese meal for dinner, which Mummy and I ate more fully than we usually do with Chinese take-aways at home. There was the unusual feature of duck with the rice and a fried noodles, as almost our last action before going to bed still tired.