Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wanted: Astrological Authors

Authors and investors are sought for an Astrological publishing project to blow the lid off of the field by publishing more precise horoscopes and eventually opening a line of stores in America's largest malls.

Why astrology? Isn't it unscientific?

No. Here's why. It is scientific fact that the Sun is affected by the planets. The sunspot cycle is related to the orbit of Jupiter, etc. We don't understand all of these relationships, but we just started looking in the last fifty years with real equipment. One of the things we have found is that the solar wind, which is affected by the planets, rains onto the earth's magnetosphere, which causes fluxuations in the ionosphere. According to findings by Ryan Aviation, these fluxuations resonate in the same range as the Alpha rhythems of the human brain, which are present when we sleep or watch television.

Some scientists object to Astrology because of its use of pagan imagery. They assume that it is merely a holdover of pagan religion. This shows a misunderstanding of paganism. For their objections to be true, there would have actually had to have been pagan gods which have somehow been displaced. That would be silly. Instead, paganism is a form of humanism. The pagan gods are archetypes of various aspects of human nature, which were likely informed not by simple story telling but by an understanding of Astrology. In other words, the gods were not used to create Astrology. Astrology was used to create the gods. Understood this way, the objection of scientists evaporates. The religious objections having to do with Astrology's pagan origins also evaporate with this understanding.

The more glaring scientific error is to reject Astrology because it cannot be explained (although as you can see from above, it now has been). Astrology is a social science, not a physical one, and is based on millenia of observation of human clients by their astrologers. Most scientists who object to Astrology have never studied it. The integrous thing to do in this situation is to be silent, not condemn what one does not understand.

The other way to try to understand science is to buy Astrology for Dummies and cast your own natal chart. If there are inconsistencies, consult an astrologer, who will then explain them to you. There are also online horoscope calculators, such as the one found at Use the chart provided to go to such references as the Astrologer's Handbook and see for yourself if astrology works.

There are other potential experiments. One is to try astrological matchmaking. Carl Jung found that stable marriages can be explained astrologically by Moon Sun conjunctions between the couple. That is actually one that is active in my relationship with Moira, as well as a tasty Mars Venus conjunction in Scorpio (along with my Moon and her Sun in the same sign and her Rising sign and my Sun in Sagittarius). Usually a good Mars -Venus connection also leads to a degree of psychic connection. If you wish to find someone who completes your sentences, look for a mate with whom you have this aspect. One fruitful experiment would be to create a speed dating service using these conjunctions to control who sits with whom. Comment below if you are willing to give this a shot and we can get busy matching people and making a little money. Nothing says proof like profit.

The other potential experiment is to publish a more precise horoscope, writing horoscopes for each Sun-Moon and Sun-Ascending combination. If you are interested helping with this experiment, comment below. Eventually, with enough trained astrologers and enough committed clients, it will be possible to cast for each Sun-Moon-Ascending combination - which can be more complicated because the house placements of the Sun and Moon may vary, impacting the client personality and thus the horoscope. However, casting for each of these combinations for each year of birth can result in some amazingly accurate annual forecasts, which would only be practical with extreme market share. We aren't there yet, but if we get there, it will be proof that there is something to this astrology thing. As Yogi Bera says, nothing succeeds like success.

Back to Ireland, if only in my mind

Six years ago, my wife and I honeymooned in Ireland, using a self-guided tour package from the Isle Inn Travel Agency.

The first day we landed at Shannon Airport, drove to Limerick for breakfast, toured St. Mary's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) and King John's Castle and drove to Kilarney to a B&B to catch up on jet lag and etc (you can guess). We dined that night at Foley's restaurant (my wife is a Foley) and went home to find out that there is nothing on TV in Ireland, so we planned the next day and went to sleep fairly early. We then toured the Dingle Penninsula and started on the Ring of Kerry, after finding out at Inch Beach that the E I had seen on the camera meant empty rather than error.

We need to go back, if only to get pictures of the Dingle views on a nice day with film in the camera.

After reloading at Inch we proceded to Glenbeigh, which is the family seat of the Foley clans. We had in our possession the travel diary of Moe's Aunt Mae, who had gone a decade before. We started at the local mini-mart, who sent us down the way to talk to an older lady, who sent us to the hotel on the corner. She was a Foley, but of a different clan. She sent us to talk to the retired taxi driver, who filled us in on the family history and told us how to get to the family homestead. We followed his directions, but did not want to cross a locked gate, so we went around to talk to a neighboring farmer, Sean O'Shay. Sean said he had heard that Jerry and Mae had been there and that they had quite a trek looking for the family ruin, and if they had come to him he could have taken them right to it. He did so for us, although we neglected to take him up on the offer of wading boots. We took the pictures and Moira had her Roots experience. We then called on John O'Connor, Moira's third cousin, whose grandfather had bought the farm from his cousin, Moira's grandfather. We had tea and then headed back to the hotel to change out of our muddy jeans, then went back to Foley's for dinner (except for pubs, the sidewalks roll up at about 9, so we barely made it).

The next day we continued on the ring, turing toward Valencia Island then over Sleighhead to a stunning view of the Skellig Islands. The trip up and down the ridge in our rented Micra scared Moira half to death. We then finished the Ring, although Moira slept for a few hours of it and missed the nicest English Garden lane in Ireland. Our plan had been to start Kerry the second day and not the third, so we were a day behind. It was raining, so we bypassed Blarney Castle and the emmigrant center at Cohb, although we did drive through Cork at rush hour and got an outside view of their stunning Cathedral. We headed to Waterford to get back on schedule and stayed at Pat and Margaret Hayes B&B (another family connection) and ate at Reginalds Castle Restaurant. The next day we toured Ambassador Crystal (operated by Waterford artisans who protest the outsourcing of production) and Waterford Crystal, buying a few items not available in the states from the Dolman pattern. We toured the local museum of Irish history and then drove to Dublin.

We had planned our wedding to be in Dublin for the parade. However, it was cancelled due to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in England (which was all over the BBC News). We were told that because of the holiday, the Trinity College library was closed (untrue), so we got on a double decker tour bus and saw the city, stopping at O'Connell Street to attend Mass at St. Mary's and to shop at the downtown mall for soccer jersey's, fleeces and new jeans to replace our soiled ones (laundry services are not offered at B&Bs). At lunch we went to the Hotel carvery (we stayed at Buswell's) and could not find corned beef. They don't eat corned beef in Ireland. That's a New York/New England thing. We had roast beef and fried cabbage, which I had never had before and which I now eat frequently. We then saw the dead Protestant's colleection at the National Portrait Gallery (all the 3rd earls of whatever in really posed art - save your Euros and bypass this). We bought a joint family crest and got coffee, but we did not get dinner reservations. This is bad on St. Paddy's Day, especially if you wish to eat in Temple Bar. There was an authentic Irish place I wanted to dine on at Merchant's Quay, but we could not find it (turned right instead of left at the Liffey) so we ended up eating at Planet Hollywood. We were served by a waiter who had gone to High School in D.C. who I seem to recall from the old neighborhood. We got a few shirts (one of the few items of clothing we kept since loosing our weight) and Moira crashed while I planned out the rest of our Dublin adventure. The next day we toured St. Stephen's Green and went to Mass at the White Friars Church, where St. Valentine's bones are kept. We then drove across country to Galway in about three hours.

Galway has beautiful sunsets over the Atlantic. It also has a wicked breeze off the ocean at night, especially Salthill, where the best B&B's in Ireland are. Tired of driving on Irish back roads, we took a guided bus, which picked us up a block from the Inn. We made reservations at the last minute, so we got the last seats in the back. I almost got motion sickness. We toured the Connemara, where the first stop was a tourist shop where Moira bought me a new wool suit (which I had altered two years later). We toured Kylemore Abbey and I finally got Irish lamb stew at the pub where we stopped for lunch. We ate dinner at the Galway Bay Hotel at off-season prices. This is where we found out about the wicked night wind off the sea. The next day we toured the city and environs, including the Cathedral, Royal Tara china (where we saw production) and Galway Glass (which only lets you into the store). We saw the old city wall, which is a part of the Mall, which we did not linger in since we were tired of shopping, so we hit the road for Dromoreland Castle - our last stop. For the third time on our honeymoon, we were upgraded to a suite (the first was at the Grand Hyatt for our wedding night and the second was at Buswells) and lived in castle elegance. Our only issue was that a window in our suite and one next to us at breakfast kept popping open. Ghosts I guess (I am descended from the O'Brian's and Dromoreland used to be the family homestead - as well as from John Lackland, whose castle we also visited).

When we turned in our Micra the next day at the airport we were glad we bought the comprehensive insurance, since we had scratched it up pretty bad and had scratched the windshield with a malfunctioning wiper, which we replaced and were reimbursed for. We took off for home at 1:45 and landed at 4:45. Going back through five time zones, that was the longest three hour flight I have ever experienced.

Ireland, the next trip

On our honeymoon, Moira and me took a self-driven tour in a Micra, staying at B&Bs with two nice hotel stays. There are two more trips I would like to take to Ireland. One is to go to New Grange for the winter solstice and then on to Rome for Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter's. The other is for the summer solstice, which I will describe here.

It will start a few days early with first class tickets from Baltimore to Shannon Airport (6/17), landing the following morning and going to Dromoreland Castle for their marvelous breakfast and a few hours sleep. Upon waking, if we are with my in-laws, golf will be on the agenda.

The next day, we will rent a Jaguar and drive to Galway, staying at the Galway Bay Resort Hotel (6/19-20) and visiting Royal Tara China, the Burren, the Cliffs of Mohr and Doolin - and the Aran Islands if we have time.

From there, its off to Donegal for the solstice and a stay at St. Ernan's House (6/21), from there going to Giants Causeway in Ulster, as well as Armaugh and a stay at the Conyngham Arms in Slade (6/22).

From there, it is back to Dublin, staying at the Sherbourne (6/23-24) and visiting metro Dublin and eating at Dobbins and Lord Edward, as well as a little restaurant on Merchant's Quay that I can't seem to find online.

From there it is down to Waterford to buy a few place settings of the Dolman pattern at the crystal factory, staying at the Waterford Castle Hotel (6/25) before heading out to Cork, where we will visit the emigrant center at Cohb and the Cathedral (and possibly kissing the Blarney Stone - I know, its campy) before heading to Bantry House (6/26), which will be home base to see Drombs Stone Circle and Timoleague Abbey.

After driving through the Ring of Beara, it is back to Kilarney, to stay at Foley's Hotel and Restaurant (6/27-29).

In Kilarney, we will visit relatives in Glenbeigh, the lakes of Kilarney, the Dingle Peninsula and the Ambassador Crystal workshop.

From there we will go to Limerick to look for Hayes family history and/or a Shannon River cruise and then to the Cashel Palace Hotel and the Brian Boru historial center for one last night (6/30) before flying home July first (just in time to rest up for July 4th at the Mall).

UPDATE 2011: Aer Lingus no longer flies from BWI, but they do fly from JFK. Luckily, we will move to Brooklyn later this year, so by 2012 (assuming I am not involved in a presidential campaign) we will have to funds to actually take this trip and be back in time for fireworks at South Street Seaport and NY Harbor.