Alex's Asteroid Astrology - Alex Miller

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solstice sunrise

House Diary: Litha

[Cover Photo:  My own personal Stonehenge – the rays of the rising sun illuminate its coppery representation on my living room wall for just the few days surrounding summer solstice]

Litha is the pagan term for summer solstice, the longest day of the year (or thereabouts) in the northern hemisphere.  Ancient Stonehenge is set to catch the rising sun’s rays on this date, which was once celebrated with considerably more panoply than today.  Also known as Midsummer (based on the old agricultural calendar, which divided the year into just two seasons, light and dark, starting with the equinoxes), Litha was commonly observed with the burning of huge bonfires to celebrate the sun at the peak of its maximum, life-giving strength.

 

It’s been a dry spring here at the house, but relatively cool.  Now as Litha and the summer season commences, the temps are rising, but it’s just as dry as ever.  Not a good combo for yours truly, who feels like some botanical version of Gunga Din, lugging gallons of water daily to keep my precious plant babies alive.  But last night some drenching thunderstorms doused the garden, so I’m taking a much-needed morning off to compose this diary entry.

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Catching Up with COVID-19

Late June 2020 saw a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the US, predominantly in states which reopened too quickly, or too recklessly, and where social distancing guidelines had not been strictly adhered to.  Too early to be considered the vaunted “second wave” of the pandemic, this surge is still part of the initial infectious outbreak.  As of June 26, conditions were so bad in Harris County, Texas, home of Houston, that Judge Lina Hidalgo, the county’s Chief Executive, raised the threat level locally to red once more, issuing a second “stay-at-home” order when Texas Medical Center reported 100% of its ICU beds were filled.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning elective surgery in the county and three others most at risk.

 

According to NBC News figures, Texas has seen an 83% increase in COVID-19 cases since the prior week.  Other emerging hot spots include Georgia (71% increase), Arizona (61%), Oklahoma (50%) and California (35%).  With total reported US infections now exceeding 2.5 million, and more than 127,000 deaths, the US remains the world leader in coronavirus cases, almost six months after the virus was first identified.  At less than 5% of the world population, the US accounts for roughly a quarter of its infections and fatalities, largely due to delayed and inadequate response by its government.  There is still no national program for testing, contact tracing or quarantine, and the same week alarms were sounding on COVID’s resurgence, the Trump administration announced it was pulling funding for testing in key hot spots.

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AAA Profile: Peter O’Toole

Recently I had the opportunity to view “Lawrence of Arabia” again, the 1962 screen classic which reaped seven Academy Awards, detailing the military career of British officer T.E. Lawrence, who led the Arab Revolt that successfully ousted centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule over the Arabian peninsula in the waning days of World War I.  As always, I was taken in by the sweeping majesty of the movie, filmed over a two-year period in the Arabian desert, overwhelming in its epic scope but liberally peppered with human, humane, even humorous moments.  But I was struck by the fact that despite wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography and Original Music Score, among others, none of the actors won an Oscar, not even Peter O’Toole, outstanding in the title role.

 

Lawrence of Arabia” was O’Toole’s breakout performance, but it wasn’t his only Oscar snub.  Nominated seven more times, four of them in the ensuing decade, the Anglo-Irish actor never took home a little gold statuette for a specific film role, despite a body of work that puts many Oscar winners to shame, including “Becket”, “The Lion in Winter” and “Goodbye Mr. Chips”.  O’Toole once quipped that he was “the biggest loser in Hollywood”, but did reluctantly accept a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 2003, after initially refusing the honor on the grounds that he was still acting and would prefer to earn one for himself.

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SCOTUS Cockblocks Conservatives

In a surprise 6-3 decision June 15th, the United States Supreme Court ruled that gays and transgendered individuals are in fact protected by Title VII of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which already prohibits discrimination in the workplace on sexual grounds.  Conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the bloc of four liberals in essentially grandfathering in sexual orientation and gender identification to the nearly sixty-year-old law.  Well, duh.

 

The senior Justice in the majority determines who will write the decision, and John Roberts wasted no time in passing this hot potato along to junior Justice Gorsuch, perhaps the unkindest cut of all for conservatives, who have put up with all manner of crudity, ignorance, and anti-Christian-values shenanigans from Donald Trump, all in the name of the justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court, whom they assumed would rule in support of their views.  As historian Jon Meacham recently opined, “they sold their souls to Trump for the Supreme Court, and now find that his check has bounced.”

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Here We Go Again – the Rayshard Brooks Murder

Late Friday evening, June 12, 2020, Atlanta police were called to a Wendy’s restaurant, where 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was passed out sleeping in his car, blocking the drive-through.  Police gave him a sobriety test, which he failed, and talked with him cordially for over half an hour, while he cooperated and consented to a weapons search of his car, which came up clean.  Brooks suggested he be allowed to walk the few blocks to his sister’s home, but the officers decided to arrest him for DUI.

 

At this point Brooks resisted, broke free of the officers as they attempted to cuff him, was tackled, struggled and grabbed an officer’s taser before breaking free once again and drunkenly lumbering across the parking lot.  At one point he turned and shot the taser wildly in the officers’ general direction, continuing to run away; Officer Garrett Rolfe shot him twice in the back, killing him.  As Brooks lay prone on the ground, struggling for his life, Rolfe approached and kicked him, asserting, “I got him!”, while his partner stood on Brooks’ shoulder; he then waited more than two minutes before offering medical assistance.

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The White Lion: Seeding Racism in America

On August 25, 1619, the privateer vessel White Lion landed at Point Comfort, now Hampton Roads, Virginia, just outside Jamestown.  The ship and its partner, the Treasurer, had encountered and raided the San Juan Bautista in the mid-Atlantic, a Portuguese craft transporting some 200 enslaved Africans as part of its freight, carrying off some 60 for sale in the West Indies.

 

But the two privateers became separated at sea, and the White Lion with its 20-odd captured slaves made port in Virginia, and there traded their human cargo for badly needed food and supplies.  This was the origin of African slavery in the land which would become the United States (some indigenous tribes had practiced slavery with captured enemies for centuries), thus establishing one of the country’s Original Sins (the other being genocide of the native population).

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