Tesla Motors: California’s Gain is New Mexico’s Loss

As readers of this blog know, I’ve been learning about the work of inventor Nikola Tesla and I’m fascinated by his namesake company, Tesla Motors, a California automaker that is working on a 100% electric roadster for 2009 delivery. (See “The Return of Nikola Tesla”).

I’m here in New Mexico visiting my family and the big news here this morning is Tesla Motors’ decision to cancel a production facility in Albuquerque that would have produced a sedan for the 2010 model year. Score one for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and zero for N.M. Governor Bill Richardson (D).

The reason for the shift to the Golden State? Tax incentives that will give the new startup at least $1 million in state funds to train employees. In addition, under a new program adopted by California last week, zero emission vehicle companies will be exempt from paying sales and use taxes on the purchase of manufacturing equipment.

Isn’t it funny how Republicans end up running California and doling out Democrat-style tax incentives? There must be something in the Golden State’s water that turns everyone into a liberal, not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.

Tesla also attributed the decision to scrap the N.M. plant to the greater efficiencies it can gain by having all its production in one place. Both its battery pack and the Tesla Roadster are currently manufactured in California.

What’s the astrological angle on this? Off the top of my head, I will attribute California’s early embrace of revolutionary technologies to the tight Uranus/Pluto conjunction in pioneering Aries in the statehood chart. You can look at it here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Interestingly, the press release from Tesla was issued June 30, as Mars in Leo was trining Pluto in Sagittarius, forming a grand trine with the natal California Uranus/Pluto conjunction at 29 degrees of Aries.

I’m hitting the road today so I don’t have time to run a statehood chart for cash-poor New Mexico, but you don’t have to be an astrologer to realize that its government resources are a fraction of California’s. In fact, the Land of Enchantment often loses out to neighbor Arizona in bids to lure jobs to the state.

I spent the winter in California so I guess I’m an honorary Golden State resident, but I was sad to see New Mexico get muscled out yet again in the competition for a high-profile manufacturing facility.

Who Wants to be an Internet Millionaire?

With so many Old Media jobs going up in smoke, some of my friends have been working on Web site/blog/social networking ideas that they hope will generate enough revenue to support themselves and maybe a few loved ones as well.

I’ll leave it to Silicon Valley investment bankers like Frank Quattrone to decide which ventures deserve funding. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to pull from my files the chart of a real-life Internet millionaire whom I’ll call Barbara. I’ve tweaked a couple of details in her chart to protect her privacy, but the planetary positions and house cusps remain the same.

I’m hoping my readers will help me identify what aspects in her chart allowed her to start her own business and then sell it to an established Internet company for $23 million.

I did Barbara’s chart back in the days when I was still calculating charts by hand so the version that I’m going to link to, courtesy of Astrodienst, has house cusps that vary from the original by minutes. That shouldn’t be a big deal.

Barbara is a dreamy Pisces with a go-getter Sagittarius rising of 12 degrees. Her Sun is conjunct Jupiter in the fourth house, broadly trining the North Node in the eighth house of other people’s money (OPM). The Sun/Jupiter conjunction in Pisces gives some folks the impression that Barbara is lost in a dream or to be less kind, that she is a “space cadet.” Money has always seemed the furthest thing from her mind.

The North Node squares her Libra in the 11th house of friends, and Barbara has a database of contacts to die for. In fact, it was said that her database of 150,000 names was what made her startup so attractive as an acquisition.

Like other Internet millionaires such as Amazon.com Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bezos (Jan. 12, 1964, Albuquerque, N.M., time unknown), Barbara is a member of the revolutionary Uranus/Pluto in Virgo crowd, born during the 1960s. This generational signature falls in Barbara’s ninth house of media and education and is opposed by her Mercury in Pisces in the third house.

Being born with a Uranus/Pluto conjunction in Virgo made it difficult for Barbara to fit in at traditional companies, where she was considered to be a wingnut by the corporate clones who populated the cubicles around her. It wasn’t until she left the corporate world in late 1993, as the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in Capricorn was sextiling her Sun/Jupiter in Pisces, that she was able to find herself.

Another difficult placement for corporate success is Barbara’s Saturn in Aquarius, which has a very egalitarian view of the workplace, and sits in the third house of communications. The strict hierarchical nature of corporations was a real turn-off to this gal, who is known for her directness.

Her Saturn is broadly conjunct Venus in Aquarius, which is back in the second house of resources. Venus in Aquarius sextiles the Ascendant. This bestows an electric beauty and charm upon our Internet millionaire that some in the corporate world found a little quirky. Barbara’s a natural blonde, but when Pluto got to her Ascendant, she dyed her hair dark brown and began wearing retro oversized eyeglasses because she wanted people to “take her seriously.”

Barbara’s Venus opposes sexy Mars in Leo, which sits in the eighth house of sex and OPM. Her networking parties, ostensibly designed to further careers and expand Rolodexes, became a mecca for young media types who wanted to hook up — for a night, a week, whatever.

Here’s the link to Barbara’s chart and transits for the day that she sold her company, in July, 2007, as Jupiter was quite close to her Ascendant.

Blogging and Ballet

I have a confession to make: I don’t know where this blogging thing is going to lead me. Big deal, you say. But as a goal-oriented Capricorn, this is a departure for me. When I was 14, I gave up ballet after nine years of study because I didn’t get into a summer program at the Houston Ballet. I did more pirouettes than I dreamed possible for the audition, which took place at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet in Albuquerque, N.M., but I didn’t make the grade.

At that time, I was already 6 feet tall and I knew I wasn’t going to be the next Maria Tallchief, the Native American prima ballerina who was larger than life. Not long after, I quit taking ballet lessons and decided to focus all my efforts on the school yearbook and newspaper.

As an aside, when I just googled Suzanne, I learned that Suzanne M. Johnston will be honored on Apr. 26 in Albuquerque at the Arts Alliance Bravo Awards. Can you believe she started her school back in 1962? The “Duke City” was just a small town then. It’s wonderful to hear that Suzanne, as her students were permitted to call her, is still kicking and with a little luck, jetéing.

I quit ballet once it became apparent to me that it was not going to be my vocation. In my narrow Saturn/Mercury in Cap mind, I couldn’t afford to waste time on anything that wasn’t going to pay off. Hobbies? Those were for other people. Now, of course, before the Internet I had to find ways to amuse myself when I wasn’t pursuing my dream of becoming a reporter.

Once I stopped taking ballet classes every weekday, I mostly listened to the radio (I considered Casey Kasem of “American Top 40” a close personal friend), read books, particularly biographies of women, and calculated charts for friends.  There are many people who consider this period in your teens before you are allowed to get your driver’s license a golden age of creativity.

When it came to writing, I wasn’t interested unless I had an outlet for my words. Sure, I kept a diary for a little while but it wasn’t as satisfying as going out and interviewing people, writing stories, and — ta-daa! — seeing my byline in some publication. One of the first articles I wrote for The Sandian at Sandia High School in Albuquerque was about a gifted ballet dancer, Carla Neff, who studied at Suzanne’s School of Classical Ballet. I don’t know where Carla is today but perhaps she’s opened a dance school somewhere.

Ballet has been on my brain lately because there was recently a Native American Film Festival here in Palm Springs, and one of the presentations was Sandra and Yasu Osawa’s documentary about Maria Tallchief, which has been shown on PBS. Like most ballet students,  I idolized Maria, along with Anna Pavlova and Isadora Duncan, whose tragic death by strangulation put me off long scarves and convertibles forever. Unfortunately, a schedule conflict prevented me from attending the one screening of the Tallchief doc, but I started thinking about this amazing woman for the first time in many years.

Often, when a person who has been out of the public eye for a while pops back on the radar, it coincides with a Uranus transit to the Sun or Ascendant. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t learn what time Tallchief was born. Even her own biography doesn’t mention it. According to Chapter One of “Maria Tallchief: America’s Prima Ballerina,” which Tallchief wrote with Larry Kaplan:

“I was born in Fairfax [Oklahoma] in the tiny local hospital on January 24, 1925. The doctor mishandled the forceps, leaving a large red mark on my forehead. Otherwise, I was healthy and normal. They named me Elizabeth Marie after two grandmothers: Eliza Tall Chief, and my Grandma Porter, who’d been named for Marie Antoinette, and with whom I would spend a great deal of time as a child. They called me Betty Marie.”

It was Agnes DeMille who suggested that the ballerina call herself Maria Tallchief and a brilliant suggestion it was. I spent about an hour trawling the Net in hopes of finding a birth time for Tallchief, checking places like AstroDataBank and Astrotheme, both of which are on my blog roll. No luck. Now, if anyone can find out when Tallchief was born, it’s Michael WolfStar over at StarIQ, but I don’t have his sources or persistence.

When you don’t have a time of birth, it’s customary to set the chart for noon. What’s strange is that method gives Tallchief an Aries rising with a Chiron/Mars conjunction in the first house, which would be entirely plausible for someone with a scar on her face!

In addition to a T square in fixed signs (Sun/Moon in Aquarius oppose Neptune/North Node in Leo square Saturn in Scorpio, Tallchief has a Capricorn triple conjunction of Venus/Mercury/Jupiter, which falls in the 10th house with a noon birth time. Because we don’t have a birth time, we don’t know for sure that the stellium, or group of planets, is in the 10th house of fame and career. Even if it isn’t, that powerful combination of planets would guarantee that Tallchief would have luck with foreigners and dignitaries.

Indeed, she studied under Russian dancer Bronislava Nijinska in Los Angeles and got her first big break with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she became a soloist. Her collaboration with Russian choreographer George Balanchine, who was her husband for six years, at the New York City Ballet, where she was prima ballerina from 1947 to 1960, helped solidify her reputation. In 1953, no less than President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her “Woman of the Year.”

That powerful Capricorn stellium is opposed by Pluto in Cancer and trines Uranus, which is at 18 degrees, 59 minutes of Pisces. Tallchief isn’t having Uranus on her Sun right now, but she is having Uranus and Jupiter returns at the same time, which could account for the public interest in her career. You can look at the chart here.

Well, blogging has brought me back to my love of ballet. Perhaps it will lead me back to the barre.