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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Depression about the paper's going belly up is lifting, and I'm back to answering my voluminous correspondence. I received this letter last night.

From: Name and Address Withheld
To: Hart Williams
Sent: Friday, February 04, 2005 11:25 PM
Subject: NONSENSE.

What's up with 2004/2005 anyway? And what in the hell does Chiron have to do with anything? I had never even heard of Chiron until recently. What is so ghod damn important about it and why does it always seem to be negative? I thought you might know the answers to this and enlighten me. AND you can add this letter to the other silly ones you get. (But I would really like to know---really).

Who Gives a F*** About Chiron, Anyway?

Mr. Williams responds:

Good question.

Great joke, by the by.

Chiron is a fucking ASTEROID. OK?

It is one of those pieces of astrological ephemera that "hip and kewl" Super Astrologer assholes like to cite, to "prove" that they're big astro-studs.

The simple fact is that the effects of the three largest asteroids -- Ceres, Vesta and Chiron -- are, at best, negligible. The naming of Chiron, by the by, was an astronomical, and not an astrological event. The discoverer wanted to keep with Greek Mythology, but that has doodly-squat to do with observation of its effects. It's just an accident of nomenclature. Nothing more.

Remember: Astrology is a 6000-year old empirical science -- i.e. the events on planet Earth were observed and correlated to the movement of the planets. That's an unprovable assumption. It's also an assumption that can't be readily DISPROVED. It is based on the old magical dictum (which you and I know to be true: that "as above, so below," or that it all reflects the same thing!).

Where does that leave Chiron? Well, first there isn't enough observational data to actually make any hard and fast judgments about what the effect of this little piece of rock might have, if any. Second, all the so-called "wisdom" about Chiron is based mostly on the accident of its naming.

But, like Cosmik Vortices in Sedona, it's hip with the Birkenstock and Tofu crowd, who know it all without knowing a fucking thing.

And, like any faddish hysteria, this whole Chiron nonsense has been fueled by a "hipper than thou" attitude. I mean, really, how can a fucking piece of cosmic gravel be more important in the cosmic scheme of things than, say, the Sun-Neptune conjunction last week? Or the fact that Saturn is forming a hard angle to the US natal chart?

I know that economics really SUCK right now. We're barely hanging on. The newspaper I wrote for went bankrupt. My friend in Asia has suddenly found himself scraping to keep the doors of his English school open, going without food, sleep and bicycling because he can't afford to use his car, and just about everyone else I know (you included) has been going through really fucking HARD fucking times!!!

Does Chiron, the chunk of driveway gravel in the Solar backyard have anything to do with this?

About as much as a fart in a windstorm is responsible for blowing down a house.

It's just that same old NuAge snobbery that "I know EVERYTHING" because nobody knows anything about it. Chiron was named by a scientist without any meditation or contemplation (which is quite different from most of the planets.) Note that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto all ALSO share that distinction. Whether they have "aspects" that relate to their mythological naming is really too early to tell. We have only a hundred or so years of observation to base our opinions on. On the other hand, the seven "classical" planets ending at Saturn have 6000 years of observation, contemplation and meditation to base their effects on.

Unfortunately we live in the "know it all" age, and people who know zilch have the strongest opinions about what they don't know squat about.

It's like the "guitar store" syndrome, where the snotty salesman who doesn't actually know shit about music or guitar sits there and browbeats you for not being as "kewl" as he is, when all you wanted was to replace yet another D string.

So, while the major planets have been doing some really weird shit, astral pebbles like Chiron get the attention, because the hip and kewl astrologers can pontificate at great length as if they had any sort of real "knowledge" about astrology.

Here's a fun thing: take a groovy super-astrologer outside, and ask him/her to point out the planets to you, and what "sign" they're actually in ... i.e. What CONSTELLATION is that?

They won't know. They won't even know why Saturn is two fingers off of Gemini, but according to the astrological ephemeredes is in "Cancer."

(It's called the precession of equinoxes, and has moved one sign, or about 30 degrees since Julius Caesar/Jesus Christ).

The problem is that "astrology" has moved away from its empirical (observation of data) roots, and into fantastic con games that have little old lady poseurs charging hundreds of dollars for charts when all they're doing is making their rich clients dependent on them as junkies are to dealers. This has always been a problem of astrology, but it's VERY pronounced in an age where astrologers can't even identify where the stars and planets that they wax so pompously eloquent on ARE! Good grief.

The "analysis" of Chiron is based on the NAME, which, as I said, was just picked randomly by the discoverer of the asteroid without any reference to metaphysics. What if he'd named it "Bacchus" or "Dionysus"? Would it, instead of being the "wounded healer," now be the PARTY PLANET?!?

Like this: "The conjunction this week of asteroid Dionysus with sensual Venus in the natural fourth house of Cancer makes Thursday a day for drinking, debauchery and grand orgies. Grand Marnier, which is ruled by the star Bernice Goldberg 321 (named last year by The Star Registry during their Valentine's Day blowout sale) should form a sesquisquare to Uranus, and thereby would be the liqueur of choice for this libidinous period. But be careful: The ongoing square of Neptune and the asteroid Dingleberry could presage a heightened sensitivity to venereal diseases, specifically Herpes, which is ruled by Antares, so wear protection." And so forth.

Yeah. Right. Sure.

Ignore them. They've got their heads so far up their asses that they can undoubtedly see their tonsils. Pay attention to the major stuff, and ignore the cosmic gravel. It might be interesting, but what's happening on the field at the Super Bowl is a lot more important than the hairdos of the cheerleaders, which is more or less what Chiron is in the grand Kosmikal Scheme of things.

Remember this ancient Tibetan dictum: There's a lot of bullshit out there.

Or, today's quote from my wonderful Zen Calendar (a gift from a very dear friend):

"People with opinions just go around bothering one another." -- The Buddha


Thursday, February 03, 2005

By popular demand, I have posted one of my little photoshop extravaganzas as a webpage.

Just bear in mind (heh heh) that the world press corps soberly and determinedly reported that Islamic Jihadists (or somesuch) had kidnapped a defenseless GI JOE (OK, Dragon "action figure" named "Cody") because of a website hoax.

That being the case, click on this link to see the funnies.


I was originally drawn to writing for the nascent AVA OREGON! because of the Joseph Pulitzer quote Bruce Anderson posted right up front: A newspaper should have no friends.

In a media market utterly subsumed by advertorial interests*, AVA OREGON! was, or ought to have been, a breath of much needed fresh air.

*[The worst of which being the WEEKLY, who soft-pedaled their cover story -- which I spoon fed them -- on the complete radio takeover of the Eugene market by Clear Channel and Cumulus Broadcasting, each having bought five or six stations, and Clear Channel also having bought the NBC affiliate TV station. Why? Because they are BIG advertisers! Clear Channel also handles most rock concerts, at least the big ones, and the totally advertiser-driven WEAKLY (sic) couldn't bite the hand that feeds it. So, they wrote a "hard-hitting" cover story with all the toothfulness of the Pillsbury dough boy. This, from a "real" paper that regularly lets attack dog and pseudo-journalist Alan Pittman loose on anything defenseless, but never, never never never! on a cash cow. Feh. Ted Taylor -- their editor -- is mad at me for having asked to pull my letter to the editor so that a "real newspaper" could print it. He printed it anyway. I think that's quod erat demonstrandum, don't you? Oh, but he offered to excise it from their WEBSITE! Duh. What fuels these fossils be, quoth Puck. I think that's Dick Puck, not the character from Shakespeare.]

All of which is to say that after fourteen issues, AVA OREGON! is no more. Here's the letter I received along with my paycheck (minus the personal stuff):


This is the final issue of AVA Oregon. I'm out of money, and out of business. I could borrow but I have no way of paying it back. Startup costs were quadruple what I'd expected. I think the paper would have caught on in a year or so if I'd had the capital to hold out. I didn't. AVA Oregon had a cadre of writers as good as any in the country. Circulation was slow and steady, but too slow to sustain the enterprise until it became self-supporting. Recent subscribers will get a refund when I've cleared away the accrued financial wreckage. I will remain in Eugene from where I will continue to contribute to and help edit my former paper in California. I will also be working on some writing projects independent of journalism.

1/2/05 (sic)

[*NO MAS is Spanish for "no more" which is what Roberto Duran famously ended his career with against Sugar Ray Leonard. It does NOT mean, in lily-white Yoogene, "No Ma's" which would mean that not enough feminist jackbooters were having said boots licked by the politically kee-reckt, although perhaps that MIGHT well have applied, had Bruce thought of it.]

Well it's sad for me, but sadder for Bruce, who was the only editor that I know of on the West Coast with any balls. Back to the processed cheese food that passes for journalism these daze.

I will post some funny stuff that people have asked me to post later, but right now, I'm sad.


A Letter sent to a Reporter Friend of Mine in D.C.

Dear Richard:

Hart Williams here. I'm writing for the relocated "Anderson Valley Advertiser" these days, but that's not why I'm writing.

Just a curious note. Who was the shill at the State of the Union speech?

Before you dismiss that as hyperbolic or conspiracy theory, consider this: back in the bad old days of the Carson Tonight Show, paid shills were often hired to make sure a new comedian got his "shot." This was a well known Hollywood trick, and probably came to DC with Reagan *(I used to know of people who were paid to do this in H'Wood. Heck, there was even a TV GUIDE profile of one of 'em).

So: I first noticed it when Bush spoke before the Urban League last summer. It was obvious from the crowd shots that the Black leadership were pointedly sitting on their hands. But, through the opening, there was polite applause. As the speech progressed, it became apparent that a specific group of people were applauding at specific speech points. As the polite applause died, the shills precipitated out as if in a chemistry experiment, until their voices/applause were the only ones in evidence, and the voices were distinct.

Tonight, during the SOU speech, the shill found him/herself alone more than once, as the Kongresspersons failed to respond to their cues. Given the penchant of the Bush Administration to hire professional press shills (cf.Anderson) is it REALLY any sort of stretch to suggest that they hired someone to lead the SOU cheers?

Since I'm not there, I have no way of identifying WHO that individual was, but I'd bet my next two paychecks that a cursory investigation would turn up the fact that they were NOT merely an amateur enthusiast.

The use of paid shills isn't anything new. But it's sure as hell gutter politics. Anyway, hope you're doing well. Hasta luego, Richard.


Hart Williams

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."
. . . . -- H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Think anyone will follow up on this? Not a friggin' chance.

Just call me Cassandra.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

From today's REGISTER-GUARD (Eugene)
February 1, 2005

Turning point?
Not yet: But Iraqi election is an encouraging development - A Register-Guard Editorial

Millions of Iraqis courageously defied threats of bombings and beheadings Sunday to cast ballots in their country's first free election in more than 50 years. While the vote provided a welcome jolt of good news for this most beleaguered of nations, it remains to be seen if it will prove to be the turning point that leads to a free and democratic Iraq - and the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Er, according to the researches of the inestimable William Rivers Pitt (truthout.org) this little news story ran in the NEW YORK TIMES a few years ago:
U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote:
Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
by Peter Grose, Special to the New York Times -- Sept. 4, 1967

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3-- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong.

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam. The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government.

Well, I lived through that crap, and you know what? It's happening JUST AS IT DID BEFORE!

The arrogance of the administration, true believers who won't admit mistakes. The ever-increasing body counts. The complete inability of the occupying army to control any "secure" portion of the occupied territory.

You might remember that Saddam had already planned a Vietnam-style resistance prior to the long ballyhooed invasion. The invading troops were surprised that they weren't meeting much resistance from the Iraqi army. Well, now you know why.

And, once again, the ever-compliant US media is going right along. I talked to my buddy, the Vietnam Vet with the Silver Star, and asked him if he thought the military would have appreciated a war in which the entire press corps was confined to the Saigon Hilton -- as our intrepid reporters see the entire Iraq conflict from the hotel in Baghdad.

"You betcha!" he said, recalling that it was those pesky reporters telling the truth about Vietnam that had a lot to do with bringing the war to an end. (You might recall that the entire "underground newspaper" phenomenon was a response to the echo-machine of the "Establishment" media, who reported what they were told. Today, I would argue, it's the Internet).

Well, no chance of that here. Today, sober-faced commentators desperately reported the horror of the US soldier taken hostage, as seen on an "insurgent" web site. A gun was pointed at his head.

But it was out of focus, and by this afternoon, it turned out that it was a GI JOE! (T'was the gun that gave it away.) A DOLL!

There's your Establishment media in action. God help us all.

In May, they send my son over to the meat grinder. He gets to stand around waiting to be killed. Eventually, if he survives, he might actually get to come home.

Fuck you, George III. Sic semper tyrannis, to quote the Virginia state motto, which was aimed at the FIRST, mad George III. Do you suppose that if the cocksucker had ever cracked a book at Yale he might have learned something about the tragic mistakes of history?


Or, as my wife is wont to say: "What Chinaman did we piss off?" (We certainly DO live in interesting times).

Monday, January 31, 2005

Don'tcha just hate it when people tell you a joke and can't remember the punch line?

My friend Bill up on the Columbia forwarded me one of his friends' satirical rephrasing of Martin Niemoller's famous lament about the rise of the Nazis in Germany. It was almost brilliant, but lacked the punch line. The original read:

"I'm just wondering who'll be the next target of the Righteous Conservative Wrath Against Imaginary Creatures..."

Er, OK, but it needed the "bite" that characterizes great satire. So here, with apologies to whomever, is a little rewrite ...

When They Came for SpongeBob

First they came for Bert and Ernie and I said nothing because I was not a Muppet.

Then they came for Tinky Winky and I said nothing, because I was not a Teletubby.

Then they came for SpongeBob and I said nothing, because I was not an asexual cartoon sea creature.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak up.

. . . -- Bugs Bunny

There. All bitter now.

hart williams
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