Archive for February, 2015

Offensive Lyin’

February 16, 2015

As noted previously, during the Year of the Goat the Grand Duke (Tai Sui) will be presiding over earthly affairs from his cosmic throne in the South-Southwest. He likes things quiet and peaceful (and who doesn’t, after all?), so mere mortals are well advised to avoid disturbing the serene harmony so prized by Tai Sui.

But even after several millennia of object lessons, stupid humans never learn. Here’s a quick look at who’s offending the Grand Duke these days, and why:

Saudi Arabia — Sectarian conflict in Yemen is merely the latest manifestation of blowback from the Cheney-Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Sunnis and Shiites have been skirmishing for centuries in Yemen, in the mountains and on the plains, but this time it’s part of the larger proxy war between Persians and the Sauds. Yemen’s location at the south-southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula means that this noisy, un-civil war is gonna offend Tai Sui in the Year of the Goat. That’s not good news for King Salman.

Sana_Yemen

 

Russia — Don’t worry about General Winter: Comrade Bear has just a few more days to wrap up his attempted conquest of Debaltseve before all that noise and clamor in the south-southwest of Eurasia disturbs the limited patience of Tai Sui.  It’s probably too late, because the Grand Duke has undoubtedly been getting an earful from his predecessor about the terrible decline of courtesy in the neighborhood. Economic sanctions will be the least of Comrade Bear’s problems if things don’t calm down in a hurry.

Kondratyevka

 

Brazil — The party’s almost over, and I’m not talking about carnival in Rio. Through no real fault of its own, Brazil is going to suffer from the uproar to its south-southwest: Cristina Kirchner‘s intriguing media circus will catch the ear of Tai Sui and the consequences won’t be pleasant for Mercosur neighbors. Paraguay may escape unscathed (for once), but Uruguay and Brazil appear to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carnival_Masks_2015

 

Mexico — First Michoacan, then Guerrero.  President Peña-Nieto may need to follow the example of Comrade Eleven in cleaning the Augean stables of Mexican government.

Guerrero_022015

 

United States? — So far things are looking pretty good in the south-southwest: Mexican wolves are making a comeback, the clang and clamor of Eagle Ford shale oil drilling rigs is decreasing in the Permian Basin, and a measles outbreak in New Mexico, Arizona and southern California may quiet some of the noisier residents of the region.  But …

Plains All American LP will build two new crude oil pipelines in far West Texas and New Mexico to move Permian Basin production to markets. The company will extend its Avalon pipeline in Loving County 32 miles into Culberson County with a 12-inch line.  Plains All American also will build a 60-mile, 16-inch State Line pipeline to connect Culberson County output to Wink, Texas, along the Texas-New Mexico state line.

Avalon pipeline? Uh oh!  Since “moving earth” and major construction projects in the Grand Duke’s south-southwest realm are surefire ways to irritate the year’s cosmic ruler, this will definitely not turn out well. It’s clear that the U.S. petroleum industry will have to learn its feng shui protocol the hard way.  Which reinsurance provider is currently holding liability policies on Plains All American LP?  Time to double-check your risk management posture!

Eagle_Ford

 

Israel — Gaza.  Really, need I say more?  Benny Netanyahu will be getting a frigid reception in Washington from everyone except the Republicans on Sheldon Adelson‘s payroll.  In his shame and frustration, he probably won’t be able to resist (once again) turning Gaza rubble into even smaller rubble.  The man suffers from a Masada Complex compounded by chronic funnel vision.  Tai Sui is already annoyed.  It definitely won’t be good for the Jews.

Gaza_beach_2015

 

There are probably many other examples around the world where upheaval in the south-southwest during 2015 could lead to retribution from the Grand Duke.  F’rinstance, what does Switzerland mean for Germany this year?  Those listed above are just a few top-of-mind candidates that any feng shui soothsayer would love to point out.  It will be interesting to see what else develops during the Year of the Goat.  Probably a good idea to stay away from SouthbySouthwest this year.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

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Fire When Ready, Gridley

February 11, 2015

01212015_fire

You know that it would be untrue/ You know that I would be a liar …

Well, it’s not as if I didn’t tell you so:

The AvalonBay workers who sparked a massive blaze [in Edgewater] that displaced 1,000 people didn’t delay their call to 911 for 15 minutes — in fact, at no point did they call the emergency number, according to town officials and documents.  A review of dozens of pages of dispatch logs, 911 tapes as well as interviews with officials has revealed no record that any AvalonBay employee alerted authorities to the January 21 fire.  Of the six 911 calls made to report the fire, none were made by AvalonBay employees. Instead, dispatch logs obtained through a public records request show that firefighters were first notified of the blaze at 4:22 p.m. by the automated fire alert system in the complex.

Edgewater Police Chief William Skidmore said the narrative that workers called 911 about 15 minutes after the fire began was “an assumption by the media,” and says he never made such claims. “I did not correct that assumption till the dispatch tapes were checked,” he said [late last week]. “I apologize for the confusion but I don’t like to give out information until it’s been verified.”

Bill-Skidmore-Edgewater-NJ

And sometimes not even then … because even two weeks after the fire, Chief Skidmore didn’t volunteer the fact that the maintenance workers had never called 911: he waited until news reporters called him on it.

Of course, it might also be “an assumption by the media” that the pyrotechnic plumbers responsible for all this were AvalonBay employees rather than subcontractors from a service industry vendor.  Which leaves me wondering: was a certain facilities maintenance company denied the opportunity to obtain (or extend) an exclusive contract to perform maintenance work at the Edgewater AvalonBay location? Or perhaps at other AvalonBay communities in the Five Families Region?  Or is it just that AvalonBay has knowingly employed undocumented Mexican laborers in violation of federal immigration law?  Inquiring minds might want to know. Especially at the Newark Field Division.

Right now most of the public narrative regarding this incident revolves around the belated “realization” that highly flammable wood construction methods may not be suitable for high-density, multi-family dwelling units in an urban environment.  It’s a little late to be seeing the light and getting religion, but New Jersey’s municipal officials have been in the pockets of real estate developers for so long that it’s not surprising it would require a near-tragedy to prompt some serious CYA activity on the part of the usual suspects.

I happen to favor the use of light gauge steel stud framing and magnesium oxide wallboard to mitigate some of the most egregious fire risks.  Yes, it’s somewhat more expensive and thus makes housing construction somewhat less profitable. But just wait until one of those sprawling, senior citizen “independent living” complexes burns to the ground. They’re built with the same code-compliant lightweight wood framing techniques, and they’ll combust just as thoroughly as AvalonBay.  When municipal officials suddenly lose a few hundred reliably docile absentee voters on election day, maybe they’ll be singing a different tune.

Ovine vs. Bovine

February 5, 2015

February’s full Snow Moon announces that it’s almost here: the Year of the Goat/Ram/Sheep is less than two weeks away.  This means that Lunghu’s faithful readers must be eagerly awaiting his quirkily idiosyncratic perspective on feng shui prospects for the coming year.  Various soothsayers in the Sinosphere have already reviewed the impending alignment of Stems, Branches and Flying Stars … and made predictions or interpretations of their own.  Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Manila, and Sydney have spoken.  Now, crouching on the shoulders of these feng shui giants –who shall remain nameless here– Lunghu humbly proffers his meager visions of what 2015 will reveal to us all.

Feng shui forecasts are often presented in three main themes:

  • the interaction of Heavenly Stem and Earthly Branch, each with its associated Element
  • the implications suggested by the Animal associated with the Earthly Branch
  • the role of Flying Stars in affecting particular locations in particular types of ways

Depending on their target audience, different feng shui soothsayers emphasize one or another of these aspects when making New Year’s predictions.  Economic or investment predictions tend to focus on the interaction of the five elements and their impact on various industries.  Celebrity forecasts often rely on discussions of the Animal which rules the current year.  Geomantic remedies for life choices and one’s personal environment usually refer to the power of feng shui Flying Stars.  But the Tao is endlessly interconnected, so the possibilities are multifarious and mysterious.

With a nod to this tradition, therefore, Lunghu has three key things to say about the Year of the Goat:

  • Yin Wood is above Yin Earth (Wood consumes Earth)
  • The Goat is in clash with the Ox
  • The Number 5 Flying Star is in the West this year

In this blogpost, Lunghu will limit his remarks to a brief (and superficial!) discussion of the Goat’s influence on 2015. Interplay of the Five Elements and the influence of Flying Stars will have to wait for another time, hopefully before New Year’s Day itself.  For now, suffice it to say that what really matters for some people is that The Goat is in clash with the Ox … and that their cosmic risk is accordingly heightened.  Who are these people?  To make a long story somewhat shorter, they’re Ox people and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Goat people.  In the case of Ox people, this is because the Ox is located opposite the Goat –180 degrees apart– in the 12 animal cycle.  The Ox and Goat are facing each other across the cosmos, staring each other down. This is conflict, and since 2015 is the Goat’s year, things won’t go well for the Ox.

Thus, feng shui soothsayers like to point out that people born in an Ox year such as 1949, 1961 or 1973 will have a rough time in 2015.  Blatant namedroppers point fingers at people like Barack Obama, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Anna Wojcicki as Ox-(wo)men who will suffer this year.  You could also include folks like Ingrid Betancourt, Boy George, George Clooney, Nadia Comaneci and Kristen Wiig in this motley crew.  Paul Begala and David Brooks should beware as well.  You can probably think of numerous other examples yourselves.  But the Goat has influence beyond mere individual woe; institutions and organizations associated with the Ox may also suffer.  Professional feng shui technicians would probably extend this warning to any corporate body founded on the Day of the Ox, in the Month of the Ox, and (especially) in the Year of the Ox, but Lunghu is gonna stick with the obvious: any company or organization with an Ox in its name or logo is at enhanced risk in the Year of the Goat. If it looks like an Ox, walks like an Ox, or sounds like an Ox, trouble may lie around the oxbow bend. So for our purposes the Ox category thus includes cows, bulls, steers.  First, a few oxen:

An unOrthodox year

An unOrthodox year

Cambridge victory in The Boat Race?

Cambridge victory in The Boat Race?

That ribbon is also an inverted oxhead.

That ribbon is also an inverted oxhead.

Exports slashed by strong franc

Exports slashed by strong franc

Bumpy road ahead?

Bumpy road ahead?

Hearing loss

Hearing loss

Wait until next year

Wait until next year

 

Next, a visit to the bullpen:

Thai clashes & F1 crashes

Thai clashes & F1 crashes

Playoff prospects don't look good

Playoff prospects don’t look good

Merrill_Lynch_logo

Would Lunghu steer you in the wrong direction? Go ahead, mess with Texas this year:

University-of-Texas_Longhorns

Don’t be cowed by portents of danger, unless …

Borden_logoBrown Cow Software

You mad, bro?

You mad, bro?

 

Finally, there’s an entire nation symbolized by the (sacred) cow —India.  Danger lurks near Goa(t), because the Number 5 Flying Star has settled in the West this year.  Prime Minister Modi needs to be careful of Kerala state as well: don’t disturb the Tai Sui in his South-Southwest home.

Disguised as a Rooster

Disguised as a Rooster

 

But Wait, There’s More!

As if the Goat-Ox clash weren’t enough, feng shui specialists also remind us that the Goat may encounter “self penalty” in his own year.  The effects are usually not as bad as the clash with cosmic opposites, but it’s still grounds for concern –and countermeasures.  Therefore, any organizations with a Goat, Ram or Sheep as their emblem should take note:

Shetland Woolbrokers

Shetland Woolbrokers

Total Recall?

Total Recall?

Pontiac's classic hotrod: the Goat

Pontiac’s classic hotrod: the Goat

Kicked by the Mule in 2015?

Kicked by the Mule in 2015?