“She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
Dear Friend and Reader:
On Tuesday, March 8, there will be a total eclipse of the Sun in Pisces conjunct a slow-moving planet called Borasisi. Discovered in 1999, Borasisi is located in the Kuiper Belt, slightly beyond Pluto. It takes 292 years to go around the Sun, compared to 248 years for Pluto.
Its discoverers, two of whom had located the Kuiper Belt itself several years earlier, did something unprecedented: they named a planet for a fictional deity — the Sun-god of a made-up religion called Bokononism.
Back in March 2011, there was a New Moon conjunct Borasisi, and on that occasion I told the story behind the name, which is from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle. This novel, which has its roots in the author’s stint as a public relations man for General Electric, deals with some of the most profound questions of our time, involving religion, science, ethics and specific topics like technologies that can destroy the planet, particularly nuclear — a GE speciality.
One metaphor in the book is a substance called Ice 9, a chemical form of ice. If one crystal of Ice 9 gets in the ocean, the whole thing freezes. Symbolically, this represents the kind of toxin that can affect the entire world, the effects of which cannot be reversed. Ice 9 can stand in for many of the environmental problems we face today.
If you’re studying Borasisi from a psychological standpoint, themes emerge; such as the lies we believe in order to be happy. I included that interpretation in my original article. Yet, having personally covered the environmental crimes of GE, I made sure to tell the story of Cat’s Cradle and describe its implications.
In order to rig the world with atomic bombs, and to create technologies that contaminate every living creature on the planet, it’s necessary to suspend all ethics and tell a lot of lies, which GE does generously. I’m typing right now next to a huge bookshelf that is stacked with binders full of GE documents demonstrating that very fact.
While I really liked what Vonnegut had to say, I was taking it mostly as symbolic, and used the Boraisisi New Moon of 2011 as a way to bring up those themes; as a way to remind my readers that these issues exist.
Then something strange happened. One week after that 2011 article, there was an earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power station. Three of the six reactors melted down. That is, a power loss disabled the cooling systems of the plants, the reactors went out of control, and hundreds of tons of radioactive fuel melted into the Earth.
That’s where they remain today, spewing radiation into the atmosphere, onto the land and into the Pacific Ocean.
The nuclear reactors were designed and built by none other than GE, examples of a deeply flawed model called the Mark III. It was as if within days the New Moon conjunct Borasisi invoked the very thing Vonnegut was warning about.
We’ve all seen odd synchronicities. Even in retrospect this seems impossible, though it happened. I don’t know how this can happen. Everything is documented or I might not believe it. And now we’re about to have a total solar eclipse conjunct Borasisi, the first event of its kind involving this planet since the one in 2011. I don’t think that means there will be a repeat performance of Fukushima some time soon, but it would be wise to take what happened five years ago as a warning.
The situation with nuclear power is no better than it was then. We know a lot more about global warming — and now nuclear companies are offering themselves as a panacea to climate change; no thank you.
Five years have passed and there has been no real progress on addressing the issue of genetically modified foods. We know a lot more today, including the fact that levels of glyphosate, or Roundup (an essential part of growing many genetically modified crops), are steadily increasing, both in the environment and in the food supply. There is no going back now; those altered genes will be in the environment forever. This is the kind of thing Vonnegut was talking about with the Ice 9 metaphor.
It’s also one of many examples where the personal and worldly aspects of Borasisi meet. In order for corporations like GE and Monsanto to do this kind of thing, they must deceive the public nonstop. In order for them to deceive the public, people must believe them.
Both sides of the equation are essential. Someone must tell the lie, and then someone must believe it. As people have enough information to recognize that somethig is not true, the burden of responsibility shifts to them. If you know better, it’s really your issue if you believe a lie, or fail to act on your awareness of false information.
We’ve reached the point in world history where we know enough to recognize what the corporations who perpetuate these crimes are doing to us. It’s no longer enough to call them out on their conduct. There is nothing more that needs to be documented. We know plenty. It’s now up to the people who are being poisoned to do something about it.
Al Gore summed this up as “an inconvenient truth.” It is indeed inconvenient to seek social, economic, environmental or political justice. Part of why it’s so inconvenient is that consciousness is so dense. The more people are in denial, the harder it is to work on these issues. After doing this for many years, the real thing one is dealing with is not the corporations — it’s the refusal of people who should know better, to respond in a meaningful way.
What we think of as the environmental crisis is really about human mentality. We seem to think that the target of our reforms needs to be corporations. The real focus of action must be the people that the corporations are killing, who tend to be the very best enablers any criminal could hope to have.
Borasisi in the News: Manhattan Nuke Leaking
I’ve been watching the news especially closely lately, as we circle closer to Tuesday’s eclipse. There have been some exciting examples of what I’m starting to think of as the Borasisi Effect.
One nuclear issue has emerged: the Indian Point nuclear power plant is leaking water into wells below the site, and into the Hudson River. The Hudson, in turn, connects with New York Harbor, the East River and the Long Island Sound.
The radiation is coming from a system inside the plant that transports fuel rods from the core to the spent fuel pond. It’s an underground tunnel that’s flooded with water so that the rods stay submerged (or else they burn out of control).
The water is therefore extremely radioactive. It’s handled by special pipes and a storage tank, and that’s the system that we now know is leaking; it turns out that it’s been doing this for at least 10 years. Most of us are just hearing about it now. (The issue has been a big star on my Facebook page for weeks.)
Nobody knows how far the radiation is spreading, at the moment. But the issue raises the question of just how intelligent it is to have the most decrepit nuclear power plant in the country just 40 miles north of the Empire State Building.
Compounding matters, the plant is located close to the intersection of two geological fault lines. We have seen what earthquakes can do to nuclear power plants.
There are two reactors in the plant, both put online in the 1970s. An older, decommissioned unit ran between 1962 and 1974. The operating license for Unit 2 expired in 2013. The license for Unit 3 expired in 2015. So the plant is in a re-licensing phase.
Yet it’s clearly not up to code, and it’s so close to New York City that it would never be dreamed of, much less built and licensed, as a new project. How it happened in the first place is a result of the nuclear industry’s favorite idea: nothing ever goes wrong around here.
The prevailing winds blow right at the most concentrated population center in the United States.
Now, the question is, does anyone care? Can anyone actually wrap their mind around the possibility that Manhattan would have to be abandoned in the event of a meltdown? Or does the $2 million a day in profits that Indian Point’s owner is making prevent considering that very notion? And what about the perfectly crazy idea of running a natural gas pipeline across the property? Sometimes it seems like the world is run by the criminally insane.
Donald J. Drumpf Winning Big in the Primaries
So far, it looks like The Donald is on track to be the Republican nominee. It’s going to take some serious maneuvering (and some other candidate) to stop him.
Trump is taking advantage of political and ideological anarchy, and a void of leadership, on the Republican side of the world. Trump is Dr. Frankenstein’s monster created by the mainstream Republican party making friends with the lunatic fringe Tea Party.
In essence, Trump is the Tea Party candidate; there has been a total takeover, and I keep reading that the mainstream Republican establishment is in a panic. Whether Trump wins or loses, the prospects for them are equally bad. Plenty of Democrats and independents don’t think Hillary Clinton would be much better.
Recently, John Oliver, who we first met as a brilliant cast member of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, did a segment on his new HBO program focused on Trump. It’s one of the most hilarious, blistering, stunning takedowns in comedy history, and will be the best 20 minutes you’ve invested in anything for weeks. Here is the video.
Trump’s real family name is Drumpf, and Oliver has called for us to all “Make Donald Drumpf Again.” Trump is also a con artist, one of those people who is beyond the point of being a pathological liar, who seems to have no concept that there is such a thing as reality. He’s not in the reality-based community, that’s for sure.
But people are eating him up. MSNBC has been doing crowd interviews at Drumpf events, asking people if anything could possibly persuade them not to vote for him. They say things like, “He tells it like it is” [not true], “He’s funding his own campaign” [not true], “He’s so successful” [not true], “He’s a great businessman” [really, really not true].
He’s blatant about being racist, misogynist, and intolerant of Muslims and Mexicans — he’s openly promised to get rid of them and keep them out.
And he just swept most of the Super Tuesday primary states; and no other Republican candidate is even close to him.
It would seem that in true Borasisi style, Donald J. Drumpf is the lie that people tell themselves to feel better about themselves.
Everything about him is a fraud; it’s difficult to imagine how anyone could pack more deception into one person. But that’s what we have — and there is a wide, popular support base of actual American citizens that is eating him up. To me, Trump is not the scary thing. It’s his supporters who give me the chills.
Hillary Clinton, Who Tries to Tell the Truth
There is a reason that Hillary Clinton is not winning over young progressive voters, who are swarming in the direction of Bernie Sanders. Her whole presentation just falls flat. She’s winning most of the Democratic Primaries, but as The New York Times reported this week, turnout is low and the party’s base is not exactly inspired by her.
Maybe this has to do with her consistently pro-war position, and her reputation for favoring regime change, which has resulted in disaster in both Iraq and Syria. Maybe it’s those $650,000 speaking engagements for Goldman Sachs.
Maybe it has to do with her voice being as irritating as that of Dick Cheney, which is difficult to achieve.
Maybe it has somethig to do with how betrayed those same progressive voters feel by Barack Obama, who they thought was a liberal. It’s true that Republicans keep calling him one, but that doesn’t make it true.
Young Democrats expected an authentic progressive in Obama, but what they got was more like an old-school Republican.
In an interview this week, CBS News asked Clinton whether she’s ever lied to the American people. Here’s a segment of the transcript.
SCOTT PELLEY: You know, in ’76, Jimmy Carter famously said, “I will not lie to you.”
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I have to tell you I have tried in every way I know how literally from my years as a young lawyer all the way through my time as secretary of state to level with the American people.
PELLEY: You talk about leveling with the American people. Have you always told the truth?
CLINTON: I’ve always tried to. Always. Always.
PELLEY: Some people are gonna call that wiggle room that you just gave yourself.
CLINTON: Well, no, I’ve always tried —
PELLEY: I mean, Jimmy Carter said, “I will never lie to you.”
CLINTON: Well, but, you know, you’re asking me to say, “Have I ever?” I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever have. I don’t believe I ever will. I’m gonna do the best I can to level with the American people.
That would be great! Let’s start with the Goldman Sachs transcript (or video). I’m sure that for that much money it was a fantastic speech. We would all love to read it and watch it in our home entertainment centers.
Footnote to history, Jimmy Carter really needs to tell the truth about what horrors he allowed to happen in a place called East Timor.
Aubrey McClendon, Archbishop of Fracking, Hits the Wall
One last item. There was a guy named Aubrey McClendon, who I guess you had to be an energy news junkie to know about.
He was the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy, which basically started the fracking revolution. Fracking is a method of extracting gas and oil from shale, by injecting high-pressure hydraulic fluid which wrecks the water table, the land and the air. The company’s energy production is still second only to Exxon Mobil, according to news reports Thursday.
McClendon was a victim of his own success; his ventures created such a vast amount of fossil fuel that there was (and is) a glut on the market, and prices went through the floor. His former company is on the verge of bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, McClendon was indicted on federal bid-rigging charges under the Sherman Antitrust Act. He was accused, while the head of Chesapeake, of conspiring with another company to avoid competition by rigging the prices paid to land owners to sell their mineral rights.
This is called price fixing, which is a form of monopolization. The people he cheated are the same ones you’re hearing about, whose homes and farms are being ruined by fracking, lured by the promise of immense wealth, whom he saw fit to rip off.
There will be no trial. Wednesday morning in Oklahoma City, he drove his car into a concrete bridge support at a high speed, and it burst into flames, killing him. For a variety of reasons, there is little chance that this was an accident, and many reasons to count it as suicide. [I’ve read the crash chart, and it looks like suicide to me. If anyone is interested in the details, I’ll do a blog post.]
I don’t know if there is any moral lesson here. Those days seem to be long gone, for most people. However, those who look can see what fracking has done, and what it got for its most assertive and successful salesman. And we are its most eager consumers. Of course, I can’t run my stove on anything other than gas, so we may be a captive audience.
People talk a lot about making the world a better place. They hope beyond hope; at the same time they are lied to and believe those lies. As the old Native American saying goes, you cannot wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.
Short Monthly Horoscope for March 2016, #1090 | By Eric Francis
Aries (March 20-April 19) — Don’t let the pressure get to you. The energy surge is coming from inside. Your mind is bursting with ideas and imagination, which would make many people nervous. Not you, however. I think you’re aware how rich the moment is. You might call this the Year of the Brilliant Idea, and set as your primary goal expressing yourself any way you know how. You’ve only begun to experience the first waves of the once-in-a-lifetime self-transformation that you’re about to go through. Be aware: that means change. You cannot have one without the other, though many try.
Taurus (April 19-May 20) — You understand service not just as a concept but as a way of life. Being of use to the world (your community, the people you care about, and many beyond) is the antidote to the self-serving habits that dominate our time in history. The more you offer, the more you will discover you have. Seen one way, your most vital role is to hold the space open for the right thing to happen. Make the suggestion, allow time in the schedule, ask who is willing to step up to the challenges you see. Set the example.
Gemini (May 20-June 21) — You may never understand the choices that others make, so therefore strive to understand yourself. If, however, you’re trying to grasp the motives of a close partner or loved one, consider that they’re having a crisis of faith. This may take them some time to work out, and you can be supportive by remembering it’s not about you. Brilliant things are brewing on the career front — opportunities you’ve never experienced and may never experience again. Keep your focus there, and set your sights high. You’re in a position to command respect for your singular talent, vision and creativity.
Cancer (June 21-July 22) — You’re blessed with an ability to see far beyond the known horizons of your life. It’s as if you can imagine something that is approaching, and then have that very thing manifest. This opens the door to many possibilities, and it’s therefore essential that you focus on what you want to happen. You’re likely to be in full contact with a long-held desire, something that may even seem like it goes back lifetimes. You can make it real now. Despite whatever has happened in the past, keep your mind and your heart open, and envision beautiful developments.
Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — Don’t let worries about money stop you from doing what you’ve set out to do. If you bring the commitment and the ideas, it’s likely that others will bring the resources. Even without the help of anyone else, you have more than enough to accomplish your goal. It’s mostly a matter of where you choose to invest your funds and, more importantly, your energy. Between being cheap and being wasteful exists a wide area where there is simply enough to get the job done. Remember: your most valuable asset is your mind — even a single idea.
Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Be available to people and to experiences. Yes, the current way of the world is to limit your possibilities and stay forever on-script. I suggest you plunge into experience and be open to whomever you meet, and whatever they have to offer. Yes, this will change your perspective; even more meaningfully, your experiences will indeed change you. That is life when you’re really living. You may be amazed how open people are to you, and how meaningless your fears were. Yet you can only learn that through direct encounters. Soak in everything you can from everyone you can.
Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Focus on your ideas and you will figure out how powerful they are. Speak, write, share, argue and otherwise articulate what you’ve been thinking. If you discover something isn’t true, change your mind and go deeper. You may spend the next six months revising and reconsidering what you’re thinking, which would be the perfect activity for your current astrology. Above all else, know and trust that you have something to say — something valuable that others will feel was worth hearing. Amidst the confusion of the world, you are a clear light.
Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — This may turn out to be one of the most creative months of your life, opening the door to many new possibilities. The stars and planets are with you. You must bring the willingness to dare, and the childlike curiosity to experiment. If you do, you might find yourself exploring potentials that you have only dreamed of but never imagined could come true. To do this you will indeed need to think, feel and act in a way that’s different from many people around you. In the process, you’re likely to attract those who are right on your wavelength.
Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Sagittarius, contrary to every myth, is one of the most emotionally sensitive signs of the zodiac. And this is an exceptionally sensitive time in your life. You don’t need to be bold and outgoing if you don’t want to be — and this approach to life will help with long-overdue inner healing processes. It looks like the most vital among them is resolving a family matter that has long eluded your grasp. Along the way you can take great strides toward making sure that your home really is the place where you feel safe, warm and welcome.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You can change your mind, by which I mean your way of thinking. Presented with the overflow of information, ideas and sensory data flooding through you now, you must find a new way to consider your experiences. You tend to process your thoughts with your feelings. Under the circumstances, you might want to take that up a few notches and work with one clear idea that puts everything else into perspective. What might that be? The best thought you can develop involves rising above fear. At the heart of everything you’re experiencing is a healing process.
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — You can get on top of any financial issues you’ve been facing, and you can do a lot better than that. Typically, you’re a resourceful person who knows how to turn everything into a productive enterprise. If that has been more difficult than usual lately, you can trust that the tide is turning. Your part involves giving up what does not work, as much as consciously embracing what nourishes you. If you make all your seemingly financial choices on the basis of what feeds you and enhances your life, rather than mere profitability, that will take you far.
Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Go beyond the need for a reason to believe in yourself and just have faith. Skipping any rationalizing is essential. This really is a case of damn the critics, the mosquitoes and the traffic jams, remember your most important goal and blaze ahead. You’ll be accessing skill sets and talents you’ve already developed, though you’ll be using them in entirely new ways. The role of collaborators is now crucial, but select only those who share your vision closely enough to help you grow and develop it. Remember: you don’t need to be original; you are an original.