Kitty on Board

funny pictures of cats with captions

How do you travel 3,000 miles with a cat in tow?

Well, as all you animal lovers out there know, you have to patronize “pet-friendly” motels. These typically tack on a surcharge that ranges from $5 to $30, depending on how upscale the establishment is.

I know. I can hear you asking: Why bother to declare the cat? Just stay at motels where you don’t have to enter through the lobby, and ask for a room at the back.

Despite a lifetime of Sagittarian procrastination, I find it difficult to lie about traveling with a cat, particularly when a sign at the front desk warns that an $85 fee will be assessed if you bring an “undeclared” pet to a room.

This must be my natal Jupiter in Sagittarius at the midpoint of the transiting Saturn in Virgo/Uranus in Pisces opposition: Traveling with a cat named Bogey.

I love Bogey, but I have to admit that I got really tired of taking apart the kitty carrier, using the bottom for a litter box, cleaning it out, and putting it back together again.

Luckily, in Rio Rancho, N.M., I discovered eco-friendly disposable cat boxes at a PetSmart that made my life a lot easier, especially when I had to set up the litter box in the passenger seat in response to a pointed “Meow.” (You’ll be glad to know that I stopped the Jeep in order to do this.)

I guess I could have put Bogey on a harness and taken him for “walks” at the rest stops the way dog owners do. But I just didn’t feel right doing that. Cats aren’t meant to be on a leash. So I ended up turning the Jeep into a moving litter box.

Maybe one of the car companies will add a litter box as an extra, the way they have with drink holders and TVs. I’ll put my money on a Japanese car maker to do the honors, since the Japanese excel at disposing of waste in a civilized fashion.

If you’ve ever worn special Hello Kitty slippers to step into the bathroom of a Japanese home, you know what I’m talking about.

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We’re Partying Like It’s 1980, Part 2

Shortly after the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, I started noticing parallels between now and 1980, the last time the Phils were the world champs. As astrologers, we know that this is more than coincidence — the 28-year difference between now and 1980 marks a Saturn cycle.

Here’s the latest evidence that Saturn, the planet of restriction, leads to fewer jobs when it’s in the sign that rules work, Virgo, as it is now and was in 1980. The headline on the story reads: November jobs losses could be the worst in 28 years.

Saturn in Virgo: The Arrest of the Skinheads

Interesting that the news wires are reporting that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have made arrests in a skinhead plot to assassinate Presidential candidate Barack Obama as the culmination of a shooting spree across America.

Just last week, I was musing on the connection between Saturn in Virgo and skinheads.

And, guess where those skinheads met? That’s right: on the Internet. Sounds like Saturn in Virgo opposing Uranus in Pisces to me.

Forget CSI. ATF rocks! Hey, I wasn’t saying that after Waco. But let’s give credit where credit is due.

Saturn Returns: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs!

I caught a preview performance yesterday of Noah Haidle’s poignant play Saturn Returns at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater yesterday. I didn’t bring any Kleenex, but I should have.

Directed by Nicholas Martin, Saturn Returns is a triptych of the life of Gustin, a Grand Rapids, Mich., radiologist in 1948, 1978, and 2008, as he experiences his first, second, and third Saturn returns.

Astrology is never mentioned, but the playwright, who appears to be experiencing his own Saturn return, has a keen understanding of the language of loss and loneliness that the planet of restriction speaks so eloquently.

As befitting a play called Saturn Returns, it’s a sparse production, with Gustin at age 88, 58, and 28 played by three actors — John McMartin, James Rebhorn, and Robert Eli, respectively. The women in Gustin’s life are portrayed by the same thespian — the beautiful, versatile Rosie Benton. No other players are on stage and there are no intermissions.

Film buffs may know Rebhorn from his numerous screen and TV roles, including The Talented Mr. Ripley, My Cousin Vinny, and The Scent of a Woman. Throughout his career, Rebhorn has often appeared as the nerd or expert, a guy with a plastic pen holder in the pocket of his starched white shirt. Sure enough, he’s a Virgo born Sept. 1.

I like the fact that Gustin is a radiologist because that embodies the current opposition of Uranus in Pisces and Saturn in Virgo.

I’m no drama critic, but if Saturn Returns is representative of what Haidle is doing at 28, I can only imagine what his future holds. Is he the next Edward Albee? I took a friend who is an accomplished actress, Anney Giobbe, with me and she was also blown away by Haidle’s talent. Like Saturn, Haidle’s not going away.

Hey, this gives me an excuse to reprint my poll, “What Happened During Your Saturn Return?”

Saturn in Virgo: The Return of the Skinheads?

I spent part of the last transit of Saturn through Virgo (1979-1981) in London, where I was a student and held a variety of odd jobs under the table because I didn’t have a work permit.

Rebuffing opportunities to join London’s ubiquitous sex trade, I was able to eke out an existence without turning tricks by laboring as a barmaid, a nanny, and a word processor. In fact, one owner of an office-temp agency seemed genuinely surprised that I would rather type up the specs for an architectural project for 5 quid an hour than make a quick tenner performing a sex act.

Another place I toiled was a consulting firm that was conducting a study on the fallout of the deindustrialization of the North of England. British readers may recall how the value of sterling soared in 1980 and then plummeted in 1981, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Bank of England sought to rein in inflation. The rising pound helped drive industry out of Britain to lower-cost destinations because it made wages expensive relative to other places in the world. Britain’s trade unions are notoriously resistant to change, which may have accelerated the exodus of jobs.

I remember a cartoon in one of the British papers in 1981 had a man dressed up as a robot going off to work. When his wife asks what he’s doing, he replies, “I don’t want to get the sack at Leyland,” a British carmaker that was investing in robots for its assembly line.

Ever seen The Italian Job with Michael Caine? Besides Caine, the stars of the 1969 film are Austin Mini Coopers. The sun was already setting on British industry by the late 1960s, but there was a time when Made in Britain was synonymous with quality and craftsmanship. It still is for the newly rich Chinese and Indians who are buying Bentleys.

Back when I was in London, sheikhs who’d gotten rich from the oil shock of 1979 were fond of taking their entourage to shop at Harrods. These days, it’s the Russian oligarchs who are enjoying the best that Britain has to offer, even to the point of buying soccer teams, the way that Roman Abramovich has with the Chelsea Football Club.

Owning a football club is the ultimate status symbol in England. As Britain has surrendered its hegemony in world politics and its manufacturing prowess, the pride of its citizens is firmly fixed on the one arena where the country is still a dominant player — soccer. Of course, finance, literature, theater, and music are other sectors where Britannia often rules.

Back when Russia was still in the iron grip of communism and a command economy, Saturn in Virgo was decimating the working class in the U.K. This helped fuel the punk rock movement, whose martyrs were Sid Vicious and his American girlfriend Nancy Spungen. Oddly enough, Vicious and Spungen died on Feb. 2, 1979, the day after a revolution installed a theocracy in Iran.

Vicious and his band the Sex Pistols mocked the British class system, with royalty at its pinnacle, in their classic God Save the Queen.

The class rage embodied in the punk cultural movement was fueled by the loss of meaningful work and loss of faith in the future. The British class system functioned efficiently, if unfairly, when there were jobs for the working class, who didn’t have much mobility in the calcified structure of Britain’s social and economic pecking order.

When I lived in London, louts and yabbos shaved their heads and went “Paki-bashing,” or beating up immigrants of color. Some of these alienated British youth called themselves “skinheads.” They preached white supremacy and formed a dangerous fringe political movement that exists to this day.

Flash forward to Upstate New York in 2008. Saturn is once again in Virgo and manufacturing jobs have been scarce for some time in the area, a trend much commented upon by blogger and author Jim Kunstler, who lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

A former college comrade who considers himself a “thinking conservative,” was recently harassed with racial epithets while riding his bike. In his blog post, he wonders why he is being called the “N” word when he’s white and why hooligans are screaming “Obama Sucks” at him.

As the London consulting firm where I worked during the summer of 1981, the study I typeset carefully documented the side effects of unemployment — alcoholism, drug addiction, and violence. Rage at not having work finds a target — whether it be “Pakis” in London, a presumed Obama supporter on a fancy bicycle in Albany, or Jews in Nazi Germany.

The dangers of the deindustrialization of America, which has been going on since the last time Saturn was in Virgo, are becoming quite apparent now that our financial and housing bubbles have burst.

Any economist can tell you that wages have been stagnant in the U.S. for years. We’ve only managed to persuade ourselves that our standard of living has been increasing by working more hours and borrowing more money. Britain’s class lines blurred a bit under Tony Blair’s Labor government, but debt was the lubricant that made mobility possible on the other side of the Atlantic.

Now that credit is drying up and the only jobs to be found for working-class Americans are at Wal-Mart or in the U.S. Army fighting an endless war on terrorism, a new generation of angry young men is starting to awaken. Will the outlet for their aggression be a new musical movement or a string of hate crimes?

This AP story highlights the rise of racism in the runup to the election.

California: Buddy, Can You Spare $7 Billion?

There has been so much financial turmoil in so many places, it’s hard to keep up with it all. BusinessWeek, whose cover language this week is the Pluto in Capricorn-inspired “The New Financial Ice Age,” recently ran a story on California’s financial problems. The headline was “California to Feds: Got a Spare $7 Billion?”

What’s going in on the Golden State? Well, transiting Saturn, the stern taskmaster, is conjuncting California’s natal Sun in hard-working, health-conscious Virgo. You don’t have to be a California Psychic to figure out that’s going to result in some belt-tightening around those very toned California abs.

You can look at California’s chart here, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Back in June, I wrote about the imminent conjunction of Saturn in Virgo to the California Sun, which is also being opposed by Uranus in Pisces. I predicted everything from increased wildfire activity to possible unrest among Golden State residents.

This time, though, I have a prescription for Saturn in Virgo. Here’s my solution to California’s fiscal woes. So many people, Americans and Mexicans alike, want to enter the Golden State that I think California should set up toll booths at its borders and collect a fee from everybody who wants to come in.

Why does everybody want to come in? No, it’s not just to enjoy California’s splendid natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle and to catch a glimpse of a movie star or two. (Remember, this is a state where movie stars like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have been elected governor.)

With a Virgo Sun, California’s main attraction is work. According to The World Factbook published by the CIA, if California were an independent nation, it would have had the 10th largest economy in the world in 2007.

Before you dismiss the idea of tolls to enter California, consider this: New York City essentially does the same thing by charging fees on tunnels and bridges leading into the Big Apple. For example, it costs $8 to cross the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York. (No toll going out.)

Californians will hate me for my next idea: tolls on highways. I recently drove from New York to Washington D.C. and was astounded at how much the little state of Delaware (represented by Senator Joe Biden) manages to extract from you for driving a few miles on Route 95.

I used to do this drive on a regular basis back in the Eighties. Driving through Delaware was free then. Now, I think it’s $9 or more. Forgive the sloppy reporting here. If I wanted to Google this morning, I’m sure I could find the exact toll and the exact number of miles you’re on Route 95 through Delaware. But I want to help California solve its economic woes instead.

I hope my commenter SFMike, who writes the Civic Center blog, will weigh in on these civic matters. I’m sure there are some highways in California that already have tolls, but I’m thinking of Interstate 10 running from Los Angeles into Arizona.

Maybe “the 10” needs to become a toll road. I know that truckers would be hurt because this is a main thoroughfare for them to transport produce out of California, but desperate times require desperate measures.

I’m sure there are some truckers or libertarians out there who are going to explain why states can’t or shouldn’t be allowed to collect tolls on interstate highways. In advance, I will tell you that it’s done in the Northeast on Interstate 95. Perhaps 95 has been declared a state road for the stretch that runs through New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. I plead ignorance.

That’s what’s great about blogging. Somebody out there who is a taxation or federal highway freak will write in and set me straight.

So to steal a line from that great California film The Graduate: “I just wanna say one word to you. Are you listening? Tolls.”

P.S. If you click on the “plastics” clip from The Graduate, you’ll be amazed that even in the revolutionary times of 1967, people still had manners. When Ben (Dustin Hoffman) turns away from talking to the women, he says, “Excuse me.” When the plastics man says, “Ben,” he replies, “Mr. McGuire.”

How many times have you been at a party when someone you were talking to was whisked away and never bothered to say, “Excuse me” or “I’ll catch up with you later”? Geez, I’m not turning into my mother. I’m turning into my grandmother!

Nouriel Roubini: The New Dr. Doom

You know the way some people gush over movie stars and athletes? With a Sun/Mercury/Saturn in financially-minded Capricorn opposing a cyclical Cancer Moon, I get a little starry-eyed over economists.

Maybe the reason why practitioners of the so-called Dismal Science get my heart beating a little faster is because I secretly consider them to be fellow travelers. After all, both economists and astrologers spend their time poring over charts and making prognostications. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, from economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”

Earlier this year, I wrote an ode to the late economist Hyman Minsky and I’ve been known to blow virtual kisses at market maven Barry Ritholtz.

I’m out of town so I’m just catching up with this New York Times Sunday Magazine story on Nouriel Roubini, whom I quoted in my Minsky post. Don’t have time to read it right now? Here’s a key point:

Only a handful of 20th-century economists have even bothered to study financial panics. (The most notable example is probably the late economist Hyman Minksy, of whom Roubini is an avid reader.) “These are things most economists barely understand,” Roubini told me. “We’re in uncharted territory where standard economic theory isn’t helpful.”

The NYT has dubbed Roubini “Dr. Doom.” Want to know the last time the mainstream media nicknamed an economist Dr. Doom? Interestingly enough, it was when Saturn was last in Virgo, 29 years ago. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Salomon Brothers chief economist Henry Kaufman had that moniker. Kaufman was a talking head who influenced markets during the tenure of Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker. You can read about that period here.

I love the symbolism: Dr. Doom as a finance icon is having his Saturn return! By the way, the original Dr. Doom is still going strong at age 80. Henry Kaufman runs an eponymous consulting firm and gets a seat on the dais at Economic Club of New York functions in honor of his longevity.

Why is Roubini, the new Dr. Doom, getting so much ink right now? He is an Aries born Mar. 29, 1958, according to the Wiki. You can see Roubini’s chart with transits and progressions of Aug. 17, the day the NYT article was published, here courtesy of Astrodienst.

Interesting that Roubini’s progressed Sun and Moon are conjunct in late Taurus. This often signifies marriage or the beginning of a new creative partnership. The economist’s got the transiting North Node, which is traveling with Neptune and Chiron, on his Venus/natal Chiron in Aquarius right now. The Sun was a little past an opposition to his Venus on Aug. 17.

The transiting North Node, which is good for connections with the public, is bringing attention from the media, and increasing Roubini’s popularity, though the article mentions his perennial “outsider” status. I believe this reflects the conjunction of Chiron, the Wounded Healer, with Venus in his natal chart. The son of Iranian Jews who was raised in Turkey, Roubini is an immigrant. So is the original Dr. Doom, Henry Kaufman, whose family left Germany to escape Hitler after living through the hyperinflation of the 1920s.

Let’s hope the two Dr. Dooms, and the rest of us, don’t have to live through U.S. hyperinflation of the 2010s.

Knitting Wit

This is one of the most hysterical posts I’ve ever read on the Internet and so fitting for Saturn in Virgo, which rules handicrafts, among other things. Don’t miss Out the Comet’s… post on knitting.

I thought I was obsessive/compulsive, with my need to go back and clean up all of Astrology Mundo’s links. But now I see I’m a mild case. Comet’s post had me in stitches, or should I say loops?