Counting Sheep

June 29, 2020

We’re one week into the Sheep Month.  Here’s a quick tally of noteworthy yin water/yin earth events thus far:

  • Nearly 14 million people in 26 different Chinese provinces have been affected by torrential rainstorms and floods as of Friday, with 744,000 evacuated, [according to] the Ministry for Emergency Management. … Much of the damage has hit southwestern regions Guangxi and Sichuan.  The municipality of Chongqing on the upper reaches of the Yangtze river last week experienced its worst floods since 1940.
  • The number of real estate properties in the United States in danger of flooding this year is 70% higher than [FEMA] government data estimates, according to research released by First Street Foundation.  The data includes flood risk from rainfall and rivers in addition to the coastal flooding mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). [The broader definition of flood risk affects] around 14.6 million properties … versus the 8.7 million FEMA calculated. Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, New York and Cape Coral, Florida top First Street Foundation’s list of cities with the most number of properties at risk. At the state level, Florida, Texas, California, New York and Pennsylvania have the most to lose.

  • Massachusetts residents across the commonwealth were battered by severe storms Sunday that brought torrential downpours, serious street flooding, large flashes of lightning, roaring booms of thunder, damaging winds and massive hail.  Throughout the state, thousands of people lost electricity, as power lines and trees were downed during the slow-moving storms. Communities in Eastern Massachusetts saw the brunt of the intense weather. Norwood Hospital had to evacuate dozens of residents after flooding in the medical center’s basements prompted its utilities to be shut off. Several communities –including Boston, Brookline, Newton, Watertown, Waltham and others– also experienced serious flooding, downed trees and fallen power lines.

  • Workers at a Norilsk Nickel metals enrichment plant in Talnakh were responsible for pumping wastewater into nearby tundra.  Around 6,000 cubic meters of liquid used to process minerals at the facility were dumped. The discharge had lasted “several hours.”  Videos from the scene showing large metal pipes carrying wastewater from the reservoir and pouring foaming liquid among nearby trees.  Russia’s natural resources agency said the [workers decided] to dump wastewater from the reservoir to avoid an emergency, after heavy rains and recent tests (at the plant) had caused water levels to increase dramatically.
  • Torrential rains in Ukraine have killed three people, forced hundreds from their homes and cut off villages in western regions, authorities said last Wednesday. “The situation in five regions is critical, the Ivano-Frankivsk region suffered most,” Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told reporters.  After an abnormally dry winter and spring that destroyed crops in southern Ukraine and caused dust storms throughout the country, abnormally heavy rains have caused flooding in the Carpathian Mountains and on the plains along river valleys.  Damage is particularly severe along the Dnister river in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts, as well as along the Borzhava river in Zakarpattia oblast.


Lots more sheep dip yet to come.  Better increase the scope on your mooring lines.

Summer Wind

June 19, 2020

In just a few days –on the day set aside for affirmation of patriarchy– the Month of the Yang Fire Horse will end as summer begins and we transition into the yin earth Sheep Month.  The month’s celestial stem will change from June’s Yang Water to July’s yin water: this marks the start of an inexorable decline in Rat’s Yang Water power as we enter the second half of the year.  The Yang Water wave has crested, and will gradually subside into ever-weaker wind-driven chop, wavelets and ripples.  At the same time, the Horse’s Yang Fire terrestrial branch will give way to the Sheep’s yin earth.  What might this portend?

At the most superficial down-to-earth level, the combination of yin water above yin earth suggests the possibility of lowland flooding.  Yin earth is flat, low-lying land.  It also connotes weak soil or sandy terrain –and earthen dams or levees.  Yin water includes rainfall, freshwater ponds, minor lakes, brooks, streams, canals, rivers, irrigation systems, potable water or sewage infrastructure … and even swimming pools.  In this context, (because earth-obstructs-water) erosion and flooding may have a higher probability of occurring.  Because the Sheep is a creature associated with the South-Southwest compass sector, that’s the region where we might expect to see such phenomena arise.  How are things looking in the Wester Schelde?

When considering the interaction of the Sheep Month with the Yang Metal Rat Year, the year’s celestial stem is in a mostly harmonious relationship with the celestial stem of the month:  metal-creates-water, so the annual stem is lending strength to the month.  At the level of the terrestrial branch, things aren’t quite so positive: Yang Water and yin earth are not a good combination, because yin earth is too weak to obstruct Yang Water.  Furthermore, the yin water monthly stem and a Yang Water annual branch are in a doubly inverted relationship –for one month only, yin is above Yang because July’s celestial stem ‘outranks’ the year’s terrestrial branch.  This will be reflected in an inversion of customary power relationships during July.  But remember: August may be a different story.


Something Completely Different

Absolutely nothing to do with feng shui (as far as I know), but I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the most closely-guarded secret North of the 38th Parallel needs to reach a wider audience.  (As if anyone actually sees this blog.)  Even if I’m completely wrong, here’s a hypothesis that ought to be definitively refuted:

  • Kim Jong-un IS in fact dead,
  • his scant few recent ‘appearances’ have been performed by a body double (take a close look at the structure of those ears),
  • and ice-cold/total otti Kim Yo-jong is now running the show.  Until further notice.

Go ahead, prove me completely wrong.


“The summer wind came blowin’ in
From across the sea …”


Red Ball Express

June 6, 2020

Any self-styled feng shui soothsayer worth his luopan definitely oughta perk up and pay attention when he hears about a weather system named ‘Tropical Storm Cristobal.’  Because that’s feng + shui wildly swirling (counter-clockwise) in a ‘crystal ball.’  The very emblematic essence of prophecy itself!  Surely there’s an omen here somewhere.

During the Horse Month, it is especially relevant that this particular storm system appears to be headed due North from Quintana Roo, in the direction of Dixie’s Southern region.  To New Orleans, in fact.  Why should we care?

Well, both North and South will be experiencing upheaval and turmoil during June (the Horse Month):

  • the South because it’s the Horse’s home sector and the Horse is in clash with the Rat Year.
  • the North because it’s the Rat’s home, and the beleaguered Horse –in desperation– will assail his persecutor on his home turf.

The month’s overall configuration is pretty straightforward: Yang Water celestial stem above Yang Fire terrestrial branch.  The traditional interpretation would be that the fiery Horse is going to be swamped in his own stable by large volumes of unconstrained Yang Water (Water quenches Fire).  New Orleans submerged once again.

However, because yin and Yang are in constant reciprocal relation with each other, there is also an alternative outcome well-known in the physics literature: phase change from a liquid to a vapor state (Fire boils Water).  Every morning, Fire beneath Water results in a billion cups of coffee, tea, cocoa or maté.  It powers the steam turbines that generate electricity around the world.  It heats chilly winter homes in the Southern Hemisphere, and nourishes fragile deepsea ecosystems at midocean rift vents.  Great pressure accompanies Water’s expansion as it changes from liquid to vapor.  Earth itself can be split and fractured … hence that term ‘fracking’ that you may have heard mentioned.  So Fire isn’t always the passive victim of Water‘s agency.  Sometimes things work out differently.

As always, the compass needle points North.

Metropolis 2020

May 31, 2020

Forget about Krakatau or Mauna Loa (for now).  Right on schedule, another volcano has erupted, closer to homie.  Your newly-abashed soothseeker humbly admits his latest error: he was thinking global when Rat Year 2020 is all about the local.  Metal, Water and Fire elements were arrayed in plain view to be discerned, but proper interpretation of their configuration is always difficult.  Here are some of 2020’s aspects that I earlier saw with near-blind eyes:

  • 2020 will unfold beneath a Yang Metal Celestial Stem [gēng 庚] … Yang Metal denotes strong, hard metals like steel, cobalt, nickel and so on. These materials are emblems of heavy industry, military weaponry, large-scale infrastructure … and the ferrous fetters of social oppression.
  • Tai Sui, the Grand Duke of Heaven, sits at the North in 2020. He’s watching the Rat closely … Mere mortals in both the North and South regions will have to moderate their conduct during the Year of the Rat, lest they incur the punitive wrath of Tai Sui.  Minneapolis and New Orleans, Murmansk and Sochi, Beijing and Hong Kong, Edinburgh and London, Hamburg and Munich.
  • In 2020 Rat and Horse are again vexed by their return to the cosmic spotlight. … Horse’s Yang Fire Branch constantly seeks to destroy the Year’s Yang Metal Stem (Fire-melts-Metal) while the Rat’s Yang Water Branch constantly tries to quench Horse’s Fire. … Long-story-short: expect a lot of destructive fire in the Year of the Rat as the Horse fights back.  Especially in June.
  • Tai Sui’s command of the English language and alphabet is rather limited, so it’s possible that activities related to art or tar may suffer misfortune as a result of Rat’s transgressions.  Stay away from the La Brea tarpits, even if you’re not a wooly mammoth.  [ I should have added Target stores to that list: headquartered in … Minneapolis. ]

  • Four Flying Stars weighted with woe will wreak havoc on the North, Center, South and East: The #2 Illness Star is in the South.  It portends increased risk of medical problems and overall mortal danger … The #3 Conflict Star is in the North in 2020.  Hostile arguments and aggressive confrontations will plague the Rat’s nest in a troublesome year.

So, in the glaring light of hindsight, it’s easy to say that the indicators were all there all along.  The tough part is knowing how to mix and match the various components and their multifarious interactions.  Well, there’s always tomorrow.

Just remember: to Tai Sui’s celestial hearing, Krakatau sounds very much like ‘Cracker-town’.  Let that be a lesson for us all.

On That Note

If I don’t say it now, nobody else will:  Fritz Lang‘s 1927 ‘Metropolis‘ is the most penetrating 😉 critique of patriarchy ever presented on film –at least during the 20th century.  That’s probably because the story and script were written by a woman (imagine!).  But almost nobody remembers Thea von Harbou, much less Walter Ruttmann and Alberto Cavalcanti.

It is therefore perhaps not surprising that for much of the past ninety years ‘Metropolis‘ has at various times been banned, censored, heavily edited, culturally marginalized and (eventually) relegated to relative obscurity in the academic exile of specialist film studies.  It’s certainly not a film without flaws –not least its implausibly hopeful reconciliation at the end– but look again, and see how much of the 21st century you can recognize in the dark grey mirror of Weimar Germany.  Yes, it’s a story told in black and white.  And in silence.

conscious imitation ain’t necessarily sincere flattery



Rent A Sunda

May 5, 2020

Even if you’re no aficionado of the so-called sweet science (’cause it ain’t neither sweet nor science), you may be familiar with the concept of “the ol’ one-two.”  In 20th c. boxing lingo, this catchy phrase referred to a rapid, sequentially delivered two-fisted combination of particularly punishing –perhaps devastating– punches.  In 21st c. mediatized mobster argot, the same basic concept is conveyed in a domsub eroticized form by the onomatopoeic expression “badda-bing, badda-boom.”  Pay attention, because you’re gonna be on the receiving end.

Thus far, you/y’all/youse/yins have been dealing with the left hook body blow of a highly infectious cross-species viral contagion.  Institutions that have been optimized to extract rent (in the form of labor, taxes or insurance premiums) from their clients (you, the run-of-the-mill citizenry) have proven poorly equipped to adapt to a suddenly altered environment.  In response, the usual suspects are trying to throw money they don’t have (to be extracted from you at a later date) at a problem that money can’t cure.  That’s because money is the only language they know.

Now, the bad news.  Maybe.  It’s quite likely that a (metaphorical) right cross to the jaw is on the way.  Delivery is scheduled on or about National Maritime Day, May 22nd (but maybe earlier) –which is the beginning of the Horse Month in the sola-lunar calendar.  The 2020 Horse Month is characterized by Yang Water above Yang Fire, and because the Horse is in clash with the year’s Rat, this combination is very definitely inauspicious.  In December 2019 the inverse combination of Yang Fire above Yang Water produced a lethal volcanic eruption at New Zealand’s White Island.  Yang Water above Yang Fire in May 2020 will be focused in the Horse’s region –the South– and suggests the possibility of a large-scale underwater volcanic explosion.  At the moment, my principal candidate is Krakatau, west of Java.

Krakatau is directly above the subduction zone of the Sunda Plate and the Australian Plate where the plate boundaries make a sharp change of direction. The Australian Plate is moving northward at the rate of 5.6 cm (2.2 in) per year, and dips beneath the Sunda Plate along the Sunda Trench, which generates frequent earthquakes.

This ongoing tectonic subduction is characterized by the edge of the southern plate (Australia) shoving beneath its northern nearest-neighbor (Sunda).  The friction is enormous, numerous fractures in the earth’s crust are generated by the massive pressure of colliding landmasses, and something’s gotta give.  The geology of this region is very complex (to put it mildly), so Yang Water above Yang Fire could conceivably take the form of an invisible undersea earthquake rather than a telegenic volcanic eruption.  Tsunami?  Maybe.  In any case, the outcome won’t be pretty.

Krakatau is best known in EuroAmerican historical memory for its cataclysmic explosion in 1883.  This time around the damage probably won’t be comparably severe (we’d hope), and the global impact is difficult to foresee, let alone to foretell.  Parts of Indonesia will certainly be devastated, but it’s a big, big country from end to end.  Australia won’t be unscathed, but many of its major population centers are on the other side of the continent thousands of kilometers away.  Port Hedlund is a different story: folks might be safer on the other side of Mount Bruce.

Probably not what you want to hear on Cinco de Mayo, but you now have roughly two weeks to prepare for the arrival of Bad’s cousin Worse.


Mid-Month Revision and Update:

For those of you Americans who don’t give a Rat’s ass about anything that happens in the wider world (or even in the next county), I have a custom-crafted star-spangled disaster alert for your exclusive use.  Mauna Loa, on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.  Lower probability, but greater (domestic) impact:  “cook ’em, Danno!”

Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on Earth.  It dominates the [Big] Island of Hawai‘i, covering just over half the island.  The volcano has not erupted since 1984.

You’re welcome.


Remove All Doubt

April 19, 2020

Ben Franklin is reputed to have said many things.  Some of these utterances, through their pithy wit, rose to the level of axioms and adages.  Collected, printed and published by Franklin himself, they constituted the 18c. Philly equivalent of a twitter stream.  Recently I’ve been repeatedly reminded of one of my favorites, which –whether or nor Franklin actually said it– goes as follows:

“It is better to remain silent and be thought perhaps a fool, than to speak and forever remove all doubt.”

Speak to me only with thine eyes.

Not-So-Fun fact:  Philadelphia suffered several epidemics of yellow fever during the colonial era and the early masonic republic.  The role of the city’s mosquito-infested swamps as a reservoir of disease was not fully understood.  Some swamps further southwest still ain’t drained.  Nome sane?


April 17, 2020

If you think of language –any language– as a semantic network which uses a vast array of linked concepts to create meaning, then you have (at least) two options when you decide to pursue an impromptu hermeneutic inquiry:

  • You can focus your attention on the network nodes –the specific words– and attempt to precisely define the concept with which each is associated, or …
  • You can concentrate on the network edges –the links between concepts– in order to better understand that the way relationships among things are described (in language) constitutes the framework –and the limits– of what can be considered knowable.

It is customary in EuroAmerican discourse to adopt the former approach, devoting much more intellectual bandwidth to the exact meaning of particular words cataloged within an extensive vocabulary. I recall an illustrative example of this phenomenon: an exasperated German scholar, confronted with the multiple usages of the Chinese word ‘‘ [儀]  (rising tone; not high, low or falling tone), exclaimed in frustration, “Words should have only ONE meaning!”  It didn’t occur to him that multiple meanings clustered around a single word might indicate something important about the word itself as well as the language that employed it.  The fact that the Chinese lexicon contains an additional 101 words also pronounced ‘‘ –with who-knows-how-many multiple meanings– would have completely blown his orderly, rule-bound Teutonic mind.

In recounting this anecdote, I’m not taking a cheap shot at the long and storied German intellectual tradition.  Instead, in my customary crude and halting manner, I’m attempting to point out that the way we look at things –to some extent– determines what “meets our eye.”  It also determines (or at least influences) what we’re able to see.  Keep that in mind as you encounter what follows.

So What:

April 19th marks Orthodox Easter.  April 20th is (of course) 4/20.  April 23rd begins the month of Ramadan.  Between these three, on the 22nd, a new moon on Earth Day will herald the arrival of the Snake Month.  From a feng shui perspective, this means that the Dragon’s Yang Earth branch [ chén 辰 ] will be succeeded by the Snake’s yin fire [ 巳 ], and that the Yang Metal [ gēng 庚 ] celestial stem of the Dragon Month will evolve into the yin metal stem [ xīn 辛 ] which follows.  What will this transition bring?

To start with, Snake’s yin contrasts with/complements Rat’s Yang.  Snake is neither friend nor foe of the Rat, having neutral status this year.  S/he is associated with the Southeast by South/South-Southeast (SExS / SSE) direction [ centered on 150° ].  In the traditional Chinese calendar, the Snake Month marks the beginning of the summer season.  Here on Earth, however, it’s useful to bear in mind that rodents are a favored meal of many varieties of serpent.  Just sayin’.

The terrestrial branch of the fourth (Snake) month is [ 巳 ] (fittingly pronounced ‘sssƏ’ –in Chinese pinyin romanization the vowel ì is pronounced ‘Ə’ rather than ‘ee’ when it follows certain consonants).  is a yin fire branch:  the   [ 巳 ] character –shaped like a snake’s head and body– is composed of 3 strokes, a yin number.  For what it’s worth, [ 巳 ] is often written/printed as the virtually identical character [ 已 ] (low tone, not rising tone –pronounced ‘yee‘), a word meaning ‘finished’ or ‘completed’.  Furthermore, [ 巳 ] is a homophone for 四, the Chinese word for the number 4.

A selection from among the many homophones for :

  • 㐌  color, beauty
  • 笥  wicker basket
  • 集  collect
  • 伺  to spy
  • 瀃  stop, obstruct
  • 涘  river bank
  • 泗  mucous

Thus, on or about April 22nd, the Dragon’s Yang Earth [ chén 辰 ] will give way to Snake’s yin fire [ 巳 ].



High above the mundane terrestrial plane floats the eternal celestial realm.  There, Ten Celestial Stems rotate in a stately procession through the cloudy sky and starry heavens.  During any given year, eight of the Celestial Stems correspond to a single month, and two stems do double duty by bracketing a pair of months at the beginning and end of each year.  In 2020, Tiger (Feb) and Rat (Dec) months are both governed by the Yang Earth [ 戊 ] Stem, while Rabbit (Mar) and Ox (Jan ’21) are both under the yin earth [ 己 ] Stem.

The Dragon Month has thus far unfolded beneath the influence of the Yang Metal [ gēng 庚 ] Celestial Stem.  Now, Yang Metal softens to yin metal [ xīn 辛 ] during the Snake Month.  Xīn (high tone) is the eighth Stem, and has the meaning of ‘bitter’ / ‘pungent’ / ‘acrid’ / ‘miserable’. The 辛 character is a unitary (non-compound) ideograph, meaning that it is composed of its own radical and nothing else.

When spoken, xīn is a homophone for …

  • 心  heart
  • 新  new
  • 忻  joy, delight
  • 馨  fragrant
  • 薪  firewood
  • 歆  like

When these meanings are arrayed with the Celestial above the Terrestrial, something like this is the result:

The (Slightly) Bigger Picture:

It’s all well and good to delve into the sinuous minutiae of one particular month, but what about the ways in which these attributes might interact with the larger forces at work during the year’s longue durée?  When we look at the way the Snake Month aligns with the elemental forces at work in the Year of the Rat, two or three things are worth mentioning…

Stem CurriculumYang Metal is complemented by its yin metal counterparts.

  • Fe Cu Ag Au Al Zn       26 29 47 79 13 30
  • Iron and steel are consorting with copper, silver, gold and aluminum:  ingot we trust.

Once again, Kim Jong-un is ahead of the parabolic curve with his recent rocket launches into the East Sea:  Yang Metal over Yang WaterYin metal above yin fire.  Symbolically directed at this year’s Number 5 Yellow Misfortune Star in the East.

Bourbon and BranchwaterYang Water can overpower and quench yin fire, but … yin fire is also:

  • the lighthouse at the edge of a mighty ocean;
  • the starlight reflected in a calm sea;
  • the moon whose distant mass impels the surge of diurnal tides.

Does yin fire also describe the unacknowledged cyberwar hacking operations that attack process-control software at biological research facilities?  Lots of potential for unexpected blowback with that … as we’ve seen.  Just sayin’.

Logo-centric sooth — Never mind the elements, focus on the words.  Pick and choose among them to create the future you intend to live in.  It’s already what you do every day anyway.

  • Let hope spring eternal:  An end 已 to troublesome, bitter obstruction 辛瀃.  Newly gladdened hearts 新心 take delight 忻 in fragrant color 馨㐌.  April showers bring May flowers.  Etc.
  • Or maybe not:  One more thing.  There’s something I neglected to mention until now, something I’ve left unsaid, something I’ve deliberately concealed until the end.  In addition to being a homophone for 四 (the number 4), the Snake Month’s terrestrial branch 巳 is also a virtual homophone for the word 死 (low tone, rather than falling tone), meaning … death.  It’s why the number 4 traditionally has had inauspicious associations in Chinese popular culture.  Now the number 5 does too.  Have a happy (Yang) Earth Day.


March 22, 2020

Now for the good news: this commentary will not once mention the inescapable c-word so prevalent in other media sources.  To do so, we will focus our gaze on non-tangible domains in which the interaction of abstract concepts and elemental forces can be imagined to operate unconstrained by the distractions of corporeal urges and fears.  The world of wind and water swirls above our muddy earth, again producing (in this season) delicate pastel blossoms and tender peagreen shoots at the outermost margins of the vegetable kingdom.  The Dragon Month will soon arrive  –check your lunar calendars.

The Dragon is associated with 120° on the compass, approximately Southeast by East (recorded with the abbreviation SExE in navigational notation).  This might perhaps pronounced ‘sexy’ in English, but not in Chinese.  The Dragon is a Yang Earth animal characterized by the chén [ 辰 ] terrestrial branch.  In 2020, the Rat Year’s gēng [ 庚 ] Yang Metal celestial stem has rotated into position above the Dragon’s terrestrial branch.  Thus, double Yang Metal will be present in the celestial stems of both Year and Month in the third lunar month of 2020.  The Yang Metal Month is supporting and reinforcing the Yang Metal Year.  You may recall that …

“Yang Metal denotes strong, hard metals like steel, cobalt, nickel, manganese, titanium, uranium and so on. These materials are emblems of heavy industry, military weaponry, large-scale infrastructure … and the ferrous fetters of social oppression.”

This double Yang Metal configuration suggests that military-industrial complexity/ complicity will be particularly in evidence during the Dragon Month, looming like the sky above.  Looking for investment opportunities?  Robots and drones.

Meanwhile, beneath the clouds, the Dragon’s Yang Earth [chén 辰] terrestrial branch strengthens the Yang Metal celestial stem –because Earth creates Metal in the feng shui creative cycle.  At the same time, the Dragon’s chén [ 辰 ] terrestrial branch interacts with (and acts upon) the Rat Year’s Yang Water [ 子] branch.  Earth obstructs Water, but the Month’s chén has only one-twelfth the force of the Year’s , so don’t expect too much.  Sea levels will continue their inexorable rise.

The chén 辰 character denotes the early morning period from 0700 to 0900, and a closely related character 晨 also pronounced chén has the meaning of ‘dawn’ or ‘morning.’  Not surprisingly, this latter character features the 日 (sun/day) symbol as its modifying radical.  Three additional homophone Chinese words may be relevant in the Dragon Month context:

  • 臣 : a statesman, or government minister
  • 陳 : to explain (composed of the subcomponents fŏu + dōng)
  • 沉 : to sink, or perish (composed of the subcomponents shŭi + yín)

Even moderately-adept feng shui amateurs can surely understand how these handful of characters will provide guidance in the weeks ahead. This is just the beginning.  As their world crumbles around them, desperate ‘thought leaders’ will attempt to regain or reinforce their status as epistemic authorities by cobbling together any combination of jargon, catchphrases, buzzwords and popular adages that seem (to them) to form a plausible-sounding kind of discourse.  These performances will not be well received by the intended audience.

Four weeks of Yang Metal gēng and Yang Earth chén will then inevitably give way to the yin metal xīn [ 辛 ] and yin fire [ 巳 ] of the Snake Month.  May Day celebrations in Moscow may not be quite what many had hoped.


Hare Today, Gun Tomorrow

February 24, 2020

As of February 23rd, it’s “officially” the Hare/Rabbit Month in the Year of the Rat, and another one of Lunghu’s 2020 predictions has already arrived all-up-in-your-face:

“Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd., has withdrawn its application to build a massive oilsands project in northern Alberta, citing the ongoing debate over climate policy in Canada.  In July 2019, a joint federal-provincial review panel had recommended that the mine be approved, saying the economic benefits outweighed what it described as significant adverse environmental impacts.

The joint-review panel relied on a long-term oil price projection –provided by Teck– of more than $95 US per barrel, about $40 US higher than current prices and around $20 US higher than other forecasts.  [Consequently,] a January report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis made the case that Teck’s application showed a ‘reckless disregard for the facts regarding oil prices in Canada.’ “

Y’all doubtless recall that back in January –having never read IEEFA’s report (or even heard of it)– I advised soothseekers as follows:

The English language word Rat is a three-letter anagram for two other common words: ‘tar’ and ‘art’.  Tai Sui‘s command of the English language and alphabet is rather limited, so it’s possible that activities related to art or tar may suffer misfortune as a result of Rat’s transgressions. …  Projects in the Alberta (anagram for ‘able rat’) oilsands may not fare well; all the more so since “moving earth” in Tai Sui‘s North region is taboo in 2020.

Furthermore, I scarcely need remind you that (as likewise predicted) Andrew Yang is no longer a(n) [active] candidate for the Presidency of the United States. But let’s wait to see what happens in a broken brokered convention …

Do the math: 2020 < 1000


Jeff the Coder

February 18, 2020

One sunny spring day at a party back in 1984*⃰, I met a Princeton University computer science student named Jeff, and I asked him what he was planning to do after he graduated.  Jeff said he wanted to start a computerized, online bookstore where customers anywhere in the United States could find any book ever published, and have it delivered by mail.  I told him that this was exactly what America needed, because (at the time) there was virtually no way to find out whether a book on a topic that interested you had even been written, let alone where you might be able to buy it.  I added that I would definitely be one of his customers when the bookfinder service was up and running.  Of course, I’d had a few beers, but I actually meant it.

In hindsight, I should have added a few caveats.  For example, I should have stipulated that the product descriptions ought to be accurate, precise, complete and candid.  And it would have been beneficial to suggest that the geographic location of the vendor ought to be fully disclosed upfront, so that shipping turnaround times could be better understood.  Finally, it might also have been a good idea to mention that customer names, addresses and telephone numbers shouldn’t be sold out the back door to sketchy, fly-by-night scam artists who would then pester us with fraudulent sales propositions –in our own homes.  Those were some of the implicit expectations of 1980’s retail commerce that probably seem quaint today, but were pretty much taken for granted thirty-six years ago.  Oh well.

smirk or golden phallus? You decide…

These days, Jeff’s company is a soup-to-nuts global logistics juggernaut.  He’s a billionaire several (dozen) times over, and now his ex-wife is too.  I’m not, but I’m relatively happy anyway.  Amazin’.


*⃰ Horse Month in a Yang Wood Rat Year [甲子] –if you care.