Quick Sand

July 25, 2018

Feng shui update: we mere mortals are currently experiencing the vagaries of fortune that characterize the Sheep Month during the Year of the Dog (YoDog).  Traditionally, the Dog and Sheep are bitter foes –not merely because the former preys upon the latter unless domesticated as a guardian, but also because the two creatures are located 90 degrees apart on the circumference of the Chinese zodiac.  This orthogonal angle may be useful for earth-bound architects and builders obsessed with stasis, but it’s in fundamental conflict with the necessarily constant dynamics at work and play in the cosmos above.  Thus, animals separated by an arc of 90° in the celestial firmament are fated to have a relationship fraught with clash and confrontation.

In this particular year, the Sheep-Dog conflict is intensified and made manifest by the specific configuration of Celestial Stem and Earthly Branch during the Sheep Month (July).  Recall that YoDog is a double Yang Earth year: strong Earth energy is heaped up upon itself into a mighty mountain.  All well and good for the Dog, except that the Sheep is a yin (weak) earth animal –and the Celestial Stem for the Sheep Month this year is   [ , meaning ‘unravel threads’ ] a yin earth phase in the celestial cycle.  So in July 2018, virtually at the peak of the solar year, we have a double yin earth month appearing on the scene in cosmic contradiction and refutation of the Dog’s mighty Yang Earth mountain. This is the beginning of the Dog’s inexorable decline, but the interactions of strong and weak earth energies bring misfortune to the Sheep as well.

F’r Instance

Laos

A hydroelectric dam under construction at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy power project has collapsed, killing at least 19 people as it swept away dozens of homes in flash flooding.  More than 3,000 people need to be rescued in a remote part of southern Laos, where at least seven villages were submerged in muddy water on Monday.

Iceland

An enormous landslide on Fagraskógarfjall mountain in Hítardalur in West Iceland [has blocked] a well-known salmon fishing river with mud and rock and almost completely changed the face of the landscape.  The landslide is thought to be the largest that has ever occurred in Iceland.  Local farmer Erla Dögg Ármannsdóttir said that the landslide has formed a dam across the Hítará river.  “The dam is a few dozen meters high —I’m not exactly sure— and several hundred meters long and it’s completely blocking the Hítará, which is a serious problem.”  The blockage has caused a lake to begin forming above the debris.  “The water level is rising with every hour.”

Myanmar

At least 27 people are feared dead following a landslide at a jade mine in northern Myanmar, police said Wednesday, as heavy rains hampered the search for survivors. Dozens of people have been killed by landslides this year in the Hpakant region of Kachin state, with 15 deaths and 45 others injured by a mine cave-in just a week earlier.

Japan

Dozens of people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes after record rains pounded southwest Japan, triggering widespread flooding and deadly landslides.  At least 75 people are dead and 40 have been reported missing or are unaccounted for, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

Ethiopia

The project manager of Ethiopia’s 6,000 megawatt Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was found dead in his Toyota Landcruiser in the capital Addis Ababa on Thursday. Simegnew Bekele was the public face of the dam being built near the country’s western border with Sudan which, when completed, will be Africa’s largest. Two of its 16 turbines are scheduled to start producing electricity in 2018.

Simegnew’s death is the second of a high-profile company official in recent months: in May, gunmen ambushed and killed Deep Kamra, the country manager for Nigeria’s Dangote Cement, alongside two others in the Oromia region outside Addis Ababa.

 

What’s next?  Well, during the August Monkey Month, we’ll have double Yang Metal to deal with.  Be seeing you.

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L’Arc, Eh

July 22, 2018

I recently spent some time in a sun-drenched, shit-scented, 18th century paradise.  Here’s some pretentious crap I wrote while I was there, waiting for the raspberries to ripen.

In these remnants of ancient forests, birds perch high in the branches of oaks, elms, birches, limes and chestnuts, cautiously watching as humans and other earthbound creatures walk along sun-dappled paths through the shrubbery below.  All day long, doves hoot fourfold pentatonic calls from the crests of tallest trees, proclaiming an assertion of their constant presence across the bottom of a dry and cloudless sky.  At night they’re silent, allowing the owls to listen for the rustle of hapless prey among the fallen leaves and thorny underbrush.

Throughout the starlit night, a feral dog sounds irregular hours with his bark, marking the passage of a waning moon toward the western horizon.  It’s not exactly quiet.  It isn’t peaceful.  The state of nature was never what it used to be.

tete-de-rigole

Da Fix Wuz In

June 13, 2018

Lunghu has recently been maintaining a dignified silence on a certain topic, mostly because there’s just too much to say about it, not much of it good.  However, because athletic spectacle is always and forever an effective distraction from the sordid reality of bestial human existence, a readymade alternative is conveniently at hand: FIFA futbol.  Russia 2018.  Qatar 2022.  And now that CONCACAF has been remade in the image of its master … America del Norte, 2026.

The eyelines in this photo are worth 10,000 words.

 

On the bright side, the Royaume du Maroc can now spend a decade’s worth of ten-cent dirhams on improving the lot of its impoverished rural populace.  Transportation infrastructure.  Potable water supply and irrigation.  Microcredit that sidesteps the local landlord class.  Etc.  It would be nice to see some of that happen, but Lunghu won’t be holding his breath.

 

Overheard in the Parking Garage

June 10, 2018

Time: 2 days after the municipal election.

Dramatis Personae:

  • tall, silver-haired executive, wearing a pale blue button-down oxford shirt and dark grey slacks.
  • newly-elected yuppie councilperson clad in orange slacks, white shirt, blue blazer.

The quote (Subject A to Subject B, who is shoe-gazing):

“There are planning opportunities, so don’t get confused.”

The translation:

“Don’t be in such a hurry to get paid, newbie.  Developers’ attorneys are the bagmen here.”

What Freedom?

May 26, 2018

“Now it is the peasant who is the judge and so it is necessary to represent his interests.  That is just the thing for me, since I am myself, as you know, a peasant, the son of a retired soldier who served twenty-seven hard years in Nicholas I’s army.”

Ilya Repin was born into a family of “military settlers” in Chuguyev, in Kharkov Governorate, Ukraine.  His father traded horses and his grandmother ran an inn.  He entered military school to study surveying.  When the surveying course was cancelled, his father helped Repin to become an apprentice with Ivan Bunakov, a local icon painter, where he restored old icons and painted portraits of local notables through commissions.

Re-Zoning

May 14, 2018

Just re-read a post that I wrote exactly four years ago today.  I always reserve the right to change my mind when new information becomes available,  but in this particular case I couldn’t agree with my former self more thoroughly.

Putin_Lebanon_billboard

Up The Wrong Tree

April 23, 2018

The most powerful man in China is in les Etats Unis this week, and he has come bearing a gift … of sorts.  But while traditional media ‘analysts’ are focusing their attention on weighty policy matters such as global commerce and the AIPAC vendetta against Iran, the material meaning of Macron’s visit has been mostly overlooked.  Perhaps that’s because M. le President‘s real message has flown from Paris in an Airbus cargo hold, disguised by festive trappings of tricolor ribbons.

French President Emmanuel Macron will give his American counterpart an oak sapling to be planted at the White House as a symbol of lasting friendship.  [In an interview with le Reynard], Macron said “During the First World War, during the Second World War, when we were attacked, when our liberty was attacked, thousands of your people came here and died here for my country.  That’s a story of our relationship. That’s why my gift to your president will be an oak taken in a very symbolic place, especially for your Marines in north of France –that together, I mean, we will put in his garden because that for me is a great symbol of this long term relationship.”

The face-value meaning of this statement suggests that Macron is evoking the 1918 WWI battles of Belleau Wood and Château Thierry, in which U.S. Marines of the American Expeditionary Forces assisted French troops in stopping a massive German offensive at the Marne River.  United States forces suffered 9,777 casualties, included 1,811 killed.  Belleau Wood (and nearby Château Thierry) subsequently became known among (some) military historians as the turning point of the war, and American propagandists did nothing to discourage circulation of this view.  Belleau Wood has become a key episode in the lore of the United States Marine Corps (“Retreat?  Hell, we just got here”).

But That Ain’t All

However, peeping through the oak tree’s branches, Lunghu also sees further aspects of this gift:

  • In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods.
  • In November 2004, the United States Congress designated the oak as America’s National Tree, and it is also the national tree of England, France, and Germany.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the oak is a nut tree: it produces thousands and thousands of nuts.  Unfortunately, the leaves and acorns of the oak tree are poisonous due to the presence of tannic acid

Furthermore, as every American schoolboy (and girl) knows, when we think of Washington and trees, the oak isn’t what comes to mind.  Especially at this time of year, when the National Cherry Blossom Festival has just concluded its seasonal run in our nation’s capital.  Instead, Americans think of the cherry tree … and the young George Washington … and his shiny new hatchet.  We then contrast the mythic past with the mendacious present.

Thus, Emmanuel Macron has presented us with two trees, both rooted in a distant historical past: a hundred-year oak and a two-hundred-seventy-five-year cherry.  Tied together by a glossy ribbon of bleu-blanc-rouge.

On April 23, Macron will be given a tour of Mount Vernon, the Virginia plantation home of U.S. first President George Washington, where he [and his wife Brigitte] will have a private couples’ dinner [with the Trumps].

 

Where In The World

April 19, 2018

If and when Kim Jong-un actually does sit down for talks with The Great Satan in the merrie, merrie month of May, where-oh-where will those talks take place?  This is the question that has occupied the minds and mouths of media mavens for several past weeks, but their proffered suggestions thus far lack both credibility and imagination.  Here’s what little they’ve been able to muster thus far:

  • Bangkok [Bloomberg]
  • Beijing [AFP]
  • Singapore [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Ulan Bator [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Vietnam [AFP]
  • Panmunjom [Reuters/AFP]
  • Pyongyang [AFP]
  • Seoul [AFP]
  • Jeju Island [Hankyoreh]
  • Geneva [Bloomberg/Reuters/AFP]
  • Stockholm [Bloomberg/Reuters/AFP]
  • Oslo [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Helsinki [Bloomberg/AFP]
  • Prague [Bloomberg]
  • Warsaw [Bloomberg]
  • None of the above.  [Lunghu]

Lunghu is gonna do everybody a favor and name two other places with an actual shot at ending up as host venue.  One might be Kim’s choice, the other would be Melania’s.  Both locations feature beautiful natural landscapes and crisp, clean mountain air.  In May, the stark grandeur of vertiginous granite and limestone slopes will be softly accented by the delicate colors of alpine flowers in full bloom.  Book your airline tickets now to take advantage of the cheap fares. You can thank me later.

Kŭmgangsan Resort Area  [Kangwon Province, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]

home of nine dragons in Kuryong Falls

 

Lake Bled  [Julian Alps, Slovenia]

The World Rowing Championships were held at Lake Bled in 1966, 1979, 1989, and 2011.  So it’s Lunghu’s sentimental choice.

 

However, it’s always possible that outsize egos and diplomatic protocol won’t permit a meeting at any site perceived to be either man’s home turf.  Sadly, that probably also rules out Doonbeg [Co. Clare, Eire].  A loovely spot it is, to be sure.  Instead, let’s consider a darkhorse candidate:

Sapporo  [Hokkaido, Japan]

  • Sapporo was host city for the 11th Winter Olympics (in 1972), the first ever held in Asia.  This history provides a neat cultural/thematic link to the recent role of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in jumpstarting inter-Korean dialog. Furthermore, the city is considering a bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics.
  • Sapporo might sometimes be a little chilly in May, but it’s the sunniest month of the year, and it has the topography and infrastructure to handle a sudden influx of dignitaries, security personnel and media masses.  Better still, the island of Hokkaido is replete with beautiful landscapes, mountain vistas, flora and fauna: truly a fairy-tale wonderland for a nature-lover like Kim Jong-un.  There are golf courses too.
  • Shinzo Abe is the odd man out in YoDg’s improbable Kim-Moon-Trump schmooze-fest, and his newly-marginal position in the geopolitics of northeast Asia is compounded by domestic corruption scandals that have undermined his party base at home.  For Trump, this weakness is a vulnerability that can (and will) be exploited for economic gain.  In exchange, he can offer Abe the illusory prestige of summit host and the appearance of ‘inclusion’ at the negotiation table.  Kim might be willing to go along with the program because he understands that this would actually be a humiliating role for Abe and running-dog imperialist lackey Japan.
  • Recent fire-over-earth volcanic eruptions are in southern Japan.

But really, how likely are any of Lunghu’s suggestions to be chosen as a summit site?  It all depends on whether desperate men will continue to accept his sage counsel as the best path to a satisfactory outcome for all concerned.

 

Dog v. Dragon

March 28, 2018

Now is not the time for a nostalgic look back at how much better things used to be: it’s the Year of the Dog (YoDg for short), and the Dragon Month is just a few weeks away.  Why does that matter?  Mere mortals may soon learn.  As any friendly neighborhood feng shui soothsayer can tell you, the Dragon and Dog are fierce enemies.  They directly confront each other across the boundless sky from their respective positions in the celestial zodiac, and since each is a Yang Earth animal, they’re scrapping for possession of the same contested turf (so to speak).  When the Dog is the ruler of the year and the Dragon Month rolls around, their conflict is inevitable and immediate.  We humans must strive to minimize the collateral damage by exerting our feeble powers to protect what little we can.

Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes: here are a few salient features of this year’s Dragon Month which may provide some guidelines for what to expect.  The first thing to know is that Lunghu calibrates the beginning of lunar months with the new moon phase, which means that the Dragon Month will “officially” start on April 15th.  In the United States that’s also the day your federal income taxes are due, but that’s undoubtedly(?) just a coincidence this year.  Secondly, in 2018’s YoDg the Dragon Month is governed by the Yang Fire celestial stem, which means that the Yang Earth Dragon will writhe beneath (strong) Yang Fire.  Furthermore, the Dragon is associated with the East-Southeast direction, while the Dog is located in the West-Northwest.  So there you have it: a convergence of time, vector and what we might call “cosmic meterological conditions.”  In the Lorenzian brane-space of our puny little bubble adrift in the infinite multiverse, these things may actually “matter.”

So … what kinds of material manifestations should we anticipate for this coming April, “the cruelest month“?

East-Southeast is all relative, depending on who and where you are –>

  • Bermuda seen from New York?
  • Kazakhstan from Moscow?
  • Jeju-do relative to Beijing?
  • As Bern and Basel are to Paris, or Budapest to Bonn?

Bearing all that in mind, it’s worth noting that very soon we’ll be getting a preview of fire-over-earth, when a certain “Celestial Palace” tumbles from high in the sky to the ground far, far below:

“China’s experimental space station Tiangong-1 is now orbiting at an [extremely low] altitude of approximately 126 miles, and is expected to deorbit between March 31 and April 2 2018. The station will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere between 42.7°N and 42.7°S latitude, at an unknown longitude.”

Eighty-five degrees of latitude is a rather large swath of Mother Earth, so this broadly indeterminate splashdown zone will inevitably be ESE of somebody.  It also just so happens to include the Southern Ocean area where MH370 is almost certainly submerged.  Is this some kind of a cosmic April Fool’s joke?  Or is Tai Sui calibrating his version of the lunar calendar according to the full moon rather than the new moon?  Just another mystery of the Dao.

However, once Tiangong-1 has landed, we’ll still have the entire Dragon Month stretched out before us, giving us (at least) a further four weeks of fire-over-earth.  April 1st or April 15th: does it really matter when the Dragon Month begins?  If we’re lucky, the Yang Fire/Yang Earth combination will manifest in relatively harmless forms such as intensified displays of the aurora borealis or a few dramatic volcanic eruptions in sparsely populated regions of the globe.  Dragons in clash with the Dog Year may not escape so lightly.

अवतु वक्तारम्।
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु मा
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

 

“The [text] shifts between voices of satire and prophecy featuring abrupt and unannounced changes of speaker, location, and time … while conjuring a vast and dissonant range of cultures and literatures.”

 

Code Blue

March 1, 2018

As usual, message-mongers in Moscow are still stuck on the steep up-slope of modern media’s oscillatory learning curve.  Despite pioneering 20th c. work by the Tartu School of Semiotics, United Russia’s party hacks do not yet seem to have fully mastered the techniques of deploying signs and symbols as cultural referents in the service of mass mental manipulation.  F’rinstance, yon scenic backdrop.

Yes, it’s vast, it’s mighty, it’s YUGE.  These are all attributes that customarily denote strength, power and perhaps invulnerability. But … it’s blue.  Light blue.  Perhaps this is the blue of the Russian tricolor flag, but the light blue color also has another significance in modern Russian culture: it is a codeword and signifier for homosexuality.  So what’s the subliminal message here?  Are the average Boris and Natasha supposed to see a Real Man who stands in stark contrast to the overwhelming mass of wimpy, craven light-blue gayboys that swarm across the endless steppes and taiga?  Or does the emperor’s new wardrobe reveal what many people have suspected for years –that Comrade Bear secretly skates on both sides of the hockey rink?  After all, this is the guy who “found his thrill on Blueberry Hill.

What would Ser”gay” Eisenstein say about this particular form of intellectual montage?