The Internet Giveth and the Internet Taketh

I would assume that Gian Paul, our Brazil bureau chief, would have better things to look at down in Brazil than the stats on Astrology Mundo. But perhaps it isn’t bathing suit season right now.

In any event, Gian Paul has correctly observed that about 12,000 of my “hits” have disappeared from the site meter. I was getting pretty excited about hitting 150,000, but now it appears that will take a little longer than I expected.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back up to 148,000 and change after Mercury goes direct. I don’t have the energy to complain to WordPress about this, that’s for sure.

Thanks, as always, Gian Paul, for your observations.

Happy Birthday, Gian Paul!

Today is the birthday of our celebrated Brazil bureau chief, Gian Paul, who has singlehandedly kept this blog going with his spirited comments and his longer posts under the banner The View From Brazil. Thanks and many happy returns, GP!

Unfortunately, today was also the day that a dear high school friend of mine passed away. I also still need to push the button on the California electronic return on TurboTax.

Happy Birthday, Astrology Mundo!

It was one year ago today that I decided to join the blogosphere by launching Astrology Mundo. Now, 422 posts, 1,353 (approved) comments, and 136,901 hits later, Astrology Mundo is celebrating its first birthday.

My output has varied since I fired up the blog for the first time, courtesy of WordPress, on Mar. 17, 2008, but my love of the astrological and blogging community hasn’t.

There have been two contributors who have kept this blog afloat over the past year when my energy flagged — Regina at Gastriques and Gian Paul, who has given us The View from Brazil. Thanks to both of you!

Also, thanks to the astrobloggers who have taken the time to comment on my posts and to link to them. I can’t name them all, but I’m thinking of Jude Cowell at Stars Over Washington and Jude’s Threshold, Comet at Out the Comet’s Ass, Julie Demboski, Beth Turnage at Astrology Explored, and ElsaElsa of blog aggregator AstroDispatch, to name a few. I couldn’t have done it without you. (More links later!)

Away from the cosmos, SFMike of Civic Center and Susan DeMark of Mindful Walker have helped keep my feet firmly on the ground while I’m looking up at the stars.

Last but not least, a big shout-out to Pamela Cucinell, my roommate at last year’s United Astrology Conference and the host of AstroChatter Radio, where I put my two astro cents in on a (mostly) regular basis.

Thanks everybody! I love all of you, especially my readers!

All Madoff, All the Time

The financial press can’t seem to turn the page on the Madoff Affair. Yes, it’s big news that a prominent New York financier has allegedly defrauded some high-profile investors such as Mort Zuckerman and Steven Spielberg, not to mention a few European banks, out of a total of $50 billion.

But it seems to me that the real culprit is lack of regulation, not 70-year-old Madoff (pronounced MAY-doff, as in “made off” with your money).

Although it appears that Madoff, a former NASDAQ chairman and owner of his eponymous broker/dealer firm, was not operating a hedge fund per se, his Ponzi scheme thrived because of the lack of oversight in that shadowy corner of the financial services industry.

As I was discussing with Pamela Cucinell on her AstroChatter BlogTalkRadio program earlier this week, I think it’s quite interesting that the Madoff scandal began to unravel over Thanksgiving weekend (even it didn’t become public until a week ago). That’s when Uranus was making a station opposing Madoff’s natal Neptune, according to commenter Gian Paul.

More important, it’s when Pluto moved into Capricorn. Back in the early 1980s, as Pluto moved into investment-oriented Scorpio, deregulation opened the door for individual investors and pension funds alike to increase their exposure to the stock market.

As Pluto transited free-wheeling Sagittarius from 1995 until this year, investment turned to speculation.

Now that Pluto the Transformer is in staid Capricorn to stay, we’re going to see an emphasis on capital preservation, as opposed to chasing outsize gains through investment vehicles such as hedge funds, which are unregulated by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

Hedge funds have the ability to invest in a wide variety of instruments — some blame them for the dramatic run-up in energy prices earlier this year — and they have attracted the rich and famous by delivering outsize returns. Indeed, Madoff’s investors were lured by his apparently steady returns of 12% to 15% a year. Of course, that record was bogus.

Now, that the music has stopped, the Madoff Affair will lead to greater scrutiny of hedge funds, private equity, and other investment pools that have been operating relatively untrammeled for the past 14 years.

Welcome to Pluto in Capricorn!

The View from Brazil: The Day Gian Paul Met Bernie Madoff

By now, you would have to be living off the grid to not know that Bernard L. Madoff, former chairman of the NASDAQ Stock Market, has been accused of perpetrating the biggest financial fraud of all time — a Ponzi scheme that involved $50 billion. Yes, that’s billion, folks.

Fortunately for Astrology Mundo, our intrepid Brazil bureau chief, Gian Paul, has filed a report about the day he met the man in question. As you’ll see, there’s a bit of a Saturn-return angle to the story. Over to you, Gian Paul:

Now that the papers are full of Bernard Madoff’s story, with the various financial collapses occurring like dominoes, I recall that I met the man in mid-October 1979. Then, Saturn was at the same position where it is today, 21 degrees, 30 minutes of Virgo.

If I remember, it’s because of two things: My then-boss had no time, so he asked me to take care of Madoff, who was visiting Switzerland, and even to take him out for lunch.

As I already had invited a friend for lunch, I had to combine the two. My friend Salim is an Iraqi Jew and a shrewd investor, so I thought that the two would get along.

And it turned out, it was a good lunch. Everybody enjoyed it. Bernard Madoff was a very affable man indeed.

Only, after Madoff left, my friend remarked that Maddox (that’s how he had understood his name) may be a “wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing.”

In jest, I remember having replied: “Maybe he is a ‘Mad Ox.'” After all, it was kind of nuts to try to sell over-the-counter stocks to Swiss institutions in those more conservative days. This was before premier high-tech companies such as Google chose to list on NASDAQ instead of the New York Stock Exchange.

Looking through the ephemeris, I guess that I must have met Madoff on Oct. 16 or 17, 1979. Question: After what has happened to him, why did the “Mad Ox” not join friends in similar circumstances in Monte Carlo, the haven for the rich who have run afoul of the law? It makes me think that after all he is not totally dishonest, maybe slightly mad…

Thanks, Gian Paul. As always, I appreciate your sense of humor and word play. Now, does anyone in the blogosphere have Madoff’s birth data?

The Pluto in Capricorn Ingress and the Mumbai Attacks

Those of us who study astrology know that even when we’re right, we’re rarely exactly right. A case in point: Gian Paul’s prescient post about the impact of the Pluto in Capricorn Ingress on Indian-Pakistani relations.

Gian Paul, who has contributed to Astrology Mundo in posts labeled “The View From Brazil,” predicted trouble between India and Pakistan around Nov. 27, 2008 as a result of Pluto moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn.

Gian Paul thought the problems would surface in Kashmir. Instead, we’ve gotten deadly attacks on tourists over the past two days in Mumbai, India, by an Islamic terrorist group calling itself the Deccan Mujihadeen.

Kudos to you, Gian Paul. Here’s the link to the earlier post about the Pluto in Capricorn Ingress.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this heinous crime and their families. The U.S. State Dept. has set up a call center for Americans concerned about family members who may be in Mumbai. The number is 1-888-407-4747.

Mom, I Came In 78th!

This is a big day for me. Astrology Mundo’s post on the full Moon in Taurus ranked No. 78 among WordPress blogs today.

Thanks to Gian Paul for pointing out that I got the time of the full Moon wrong, so I was able to correct it. Even though he predicted John McCain was going to win the Presidential election, we’re still keeping Gian Paul on staff as Brazil bureau chief, mostly because we don’t know anybody else in Brazil. 🙂

Kudos to Jude at Stars Over Washington for highlighting the mystic rectangle; my full Moon analysis was nowhere near as detailed as hers. My excuse? Too much focus on the corner of Broad and Wall streets.

Seriously, though, thanks to everybody who keeps me on my toes.

All Hail Arianna Huffington, Queen of All Media!

Gian Paul, Astrology Mundo’s “Brazil bureau chief,” had predicted Nov. 4 would be a great day for Republican John McCain and conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Given that Democrat Barack Obama won the Presidential election, the media titan who is sitting pretty this morning is Arianna Huffington. She runs the liberal news aggregator, The Huffington Post, that has been pro-Obama throughout election season.

Huffington has been the subject of profiles by Astrology Mundo, Star IQ’s Michael WolfStar, and Vanity Fair. I called the Greek immigrant a modern-day Betsy Ross.

WolfStar, top-notch investigator that he is, learned that there are two birthdays reported for Huffington: July 7, 1950 and July 15, 1950. He likes the latter, and it’s available, thanks to his calculations here.

McCain’s ‘New’ Chart: The View From Brazil

Here’s Gian Paul’s analysis of the natal horoscope of GOP Presidential candidate John McCain, using the new birth time of 6:25 p.m. on Aug. 29, 1936 in Colon, Panama. The data comes from a State Dept. document that has suddenly surfaced on the Internet as Mercury is preparing to go direct.

You may recall that in his first post for Astrology Mundo, Gian Paul predicted that McCain will be the next President. (See “Why McCain Will Win: The View From Brazil”). He’s not backing away from that theory. Here’s why:

I gave McCain’s “new” chart a test run using three events in the man’s life. I will even speculate on the next one, which will take place on Nov. 4.

1) McCain escaped a serious explosion on the aircraft carrier Forrestal on July 29, 1967. Although there were several casualties, he escaped with his life. The North Node/Moon was then transiting his Uranus. Jupiter was conjunct his natal Mars in the sixth house of health in the latest chart. Nice protection health-wise!

2) McCain was shot down on Oct. 26 1967, and captured by the North Vietnamese, as he recently reminded us by addressing voters as “my fellow prisoners.” What’s striking to me is that McCain has Saturn retrograde at 20 degrees of Pisces in his first house.

Because this house represents the physical body, it is not unexpected that he would become a prisoner of some sort at one or seven several times in his life. The question now: Has he become a “prisoner” of Sarah Palin, his vice-presidential nominee?

The transits of when McCain was grounded and was captured also provide support for the new chart. The Moon (change) was transiting his Pluto in Cancer and the fifth house. I interpret this as “an end to creativity and play.” As a prisoner of war, McCain could hardly think of having children!

Venus, being exactly conjunct his natal Neptune in in the seventh house of relationships an marriage, indicates that at some time Venusian “aspirations” would have to be relegated to the realm of fantasy.

3) On Mar. 14, 1973, McCain was released by the North Vietnamese. The Sun was then transiting his troublesome retrograde Saturn in the first. The Moon, again over his Pluto in the fifth house, was this time accompanied by a strong and favorable transit of Jupiter to his natal Moon in the 12th house of forced confinements.

From my point of view, these three events amply confirm that this time we have the correct birth time for McCain.

Concerning Nov. 4, Election Day: I prefer using 0 hours of Nov. 5, for practical reasons. By then, the entire U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, will have had its say.

I will restrict my interpretation exclusively to McCain and his current chart, using transits of zero hour of the day after.

The man is in for trouble, first with women, than with an enormous load of responsibilities. I believe that McCain will be your next President in an extremely trying world.

Let me explain: Saturn is exactly opposite his natal Saturn. A new half-cycle (Saturn) is starting. As Saturn is also closing in to conjunct his Venus in Virgo (not a comfortable aspect), I presume that some “feminine stresses” are to be expected.
.
Confirming this is a square of transiting Venus to his natal Saturn/Venus opposition, forming a T-square. If he gets elected with Palin, he will have to deal with two women, at least — his wife and his vice-president. We’ll see how that will work out.

But transiting Venus is in McCain’s 10th house. On Nov. 5, it will have just completed a conjunction with his Jupiter in Sagittarius, the ruler of his natal chart. (According to my style of astrological interpretation, a planet in its ruling sign becomes the chart’s “governor.”)

Another salient transit on Nov. 4-5: The Moon is exactly over his natal Moon, in
Aquarius, and Sarah Palin is an Aquarius.

One last point: Uranus, which turns direct on Nov. 27, will exactly conjunct McCain’s Saturn in the first house around Jan. 20, 2009, Inauguration Day. He may finally feel free from the restrictions of Saturn. Being the boss can do that for you.

Or he may feel imprisoned by the media circus (Uranus) that surrounds his new jail at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue!

Kashmir in the Crosshairs: The View from Brazil

Here’s the latest post from our intepid Brazil bureau chief, Gian Paul. While we’ve been fretting about the gyrations of the stock market, GP has been thinking about the land where the saffron grows.

It’s interesting that Gian Paul, who is Swiss-born, is fixated on Kashmir because it reminded me of Switzerland, with its chalets and snow-capped mountains, when I visited there in 2004.

Kashmir is also the homeland of the family of Neel Kashkari, the 35-year-old that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has named to oversee the $700 billion bailout fund. Like his boss, Kashkari has piercing eyes and a shaved head. The Indian papers are calling him the “$700 billion man.”

But Kashkari is another post. Here are Gian Paul’s thoughts on Kashmir, part of an Indian state called Jammu and Kashmir, and how it may be affected by the ingress of Pluto into Capricorn on Nov. 27. Over to you, GP:

Pluto was discovered on Feb. 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombough. The former planet’s sidereal revolution is almost 250 years. Consequently astrologers have little statistical data on Pluto’s effects.

In an effort to understand more, I’ve been sifting through astrological charts that I have accumulated over time. The most striking discovery I’ve made is related to the chart of the moment when World War I started.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, was marked by the ingress of Pluto into Cancer. This is exactly opposite where Pluto will be transiting at the end of November.

So I proceeded to draw the chart of Pluto’s ingress into Capricorn. It will happen on Nov. 27, at 01 hours GMT. I drew the map for London, quite near to Greenwich, where the day begins.

The ascendant of the Pluto ingress is 24 degrees of Virgo, within 3 degrees of a conjunction to Saturn, which will be opposing Uranus. Coincidentally or not, the rising in the Sarajevo chart is just two degrees away, at 22 Virgo.

Looking beyond the financial concerns of the moment, I dug up the charts of the creation of modern India and Pakistan, as I suspect that things there have reached explosive proportions.

Pakistan is practically broke and has less than one month’s reserves to cover imports. The risk is that the government will start some stupid military initiative related to neighboring Kashmir to distract the Pakistanis from the financial problems.

A fertile highland wedged between Pakistan and India, Kashmir was put under “indefinite curfew” by India on Oct. 5.

As students of the subcontinent know, Kashmir has been a source of contention between India and Pakistan ever since the two nations were created in 1947. When Britain divided the region in two, it left the Kashmiris with three options: Merge with India, merge with Pakistan, or remain independent.

Kashmir’s then-ruler decided to go with India, though the population of Kashmir is 80% Muslim and has more in common from a religious standpoint with Pakistan than with India. Though India has many religions, the Hindus have dominated politics since the departure of the British.

For the past decade, Kashmir has been a hotbed of guerrilla activity, as Islamic militants have crossed the border from Pakistan and the Indian military has put the region under virtual house arrest.

This has nearly destroyed Kashmir’s valuable tourist trade, which dates back to British colonial times, when it was fashionable to vacation on colorfully painted houseboats on Lake Dal outside Srinigar. Most of the tourists in the area today are young Israelis, who aren’t put off by the Indian military presence or the possibility of a terrorist attack by an Islamic militia.

The problems in Kashmir might appear at first glance to be a local matter between India and Pakistan until we remember that both nations have nuclear weapons.

What’s astrologically striking about the birth charts of both nations (set for 0 hours on Aug. 15, 1947) is that Mars is at 0 degrees 35′ of Cancer. This is where Pluto was at the beginning of World War I. By the end of November, Mars will be getting the opposition of Pluto when it moves into Capricorn.

To paraphrase U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who once declared, “We are all Berliners now,” are we all about to become Kashmiris? We may have to indeed, to prevent the province from becoming a staging ground for the worst fears of mankind.