Posts Tagged ‘Year of the Goat’

Bad Mojo, Mofo

May 22, 2015

Yo.  Peoples:  did I or did I not warn you that Plains All American Pipeline LP was gonna incur bad mojo for stirring up noise and “moving earth” in Tai Sui‘s home turf during the Year of the Goat?  That’s right, I certainly did.  That was in February, as the lunar year began.

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 [including] a 60-mile, 16-inch State Line pipeline to connect Culberson County output to Wink, Texas, along the Texas-New Mexico state line.

“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!


Who’s scoffing now?  Certainly not the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Coast Guard.

A 24-inch Plains All American oil pipeline between ExxonMobil’s Las Flores Canyon Processing Facility near Refugio [California] and a Gaviota pumping station 10 miles away [burst on Tuesday morning, spilling] an estimated 105,000 gallons of crude.  About 21,000 gallons is believed to have made it to the sea and split into slicks that stretched 9 miles along coast.  A 23-mile by 7-mile area was closed to fishing.

Since 2006, Plains All American and its subsidiaries have reported 199 accidents and been subject to 22 enforcement actions by federal regulators. The accidents resulted in a combined 725,500 gallons of hazardous liquids spilled and damage topping $25 million.  Corrosion was determined to be the cause in more than 80 of those accidents.  Failures in materials, welds and other equipment were cited more than 70 times.  Enforcement cases against the companies resulted in the collection of $154,000 in penalties, according to a federal database.

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

photo credits: Paul Wellman (O, the irony!)

However, before attributing this particular industrial debacle to supernatural causes, we might as well consider human agency and direct intervention:

Plains pipeline operations director Rich McMichael said Wednesday evening that two of the company’s pumps had problems on Tuesday morning.  He said the pump was shut down at about 11:30 a.m. after employees noticed a “pressure anomaly.”

“At 10:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, we experienced some mechanical issues at our Las Flores pump station on line 901 to Gaviota, causing the pipeline to shut down. We started the pumps at 10:55 a.m. Pacific Time, but were still having trouble with our pumping units.

“The pump at our Sisquoc Station went down at 11:15 a.m. and the operator in our control center shut the pipeline down at 11:30 a.m.  At 12:30 p.m., we received a call from a local first responder reporting an odor in the area.  We immediately dispatched a Plains employee to the pipeline to make a visual inspection, and he confirmed the release at 1:30 p.m.”

Lemme guess:  Plains All American’s pipeline network is fully automated and monitored by a corresponding network of SCADA control nodes.  Pumps, valves, sensors and alarm stations linked by a company-wide ethernet platform that provides an overall view of system flow, throughput, and operating status.  And that ethernet process-control network is air-gapped from the internet … maybe.  Not that it could be hacked or anything.

The Plains pipeline is the only pipeline in Santa Barbara County without an automatic shutdown valve in case of a rupture. Instead, the Plains pipeline must be shut down manually in case of such emergencies. That’s because Plains All American took Santa Barbara County to court more than 20 years ago to restrict the county’s regulatory oversight.  It won.  According to County Energy Division director Kevin Drude, the SCADA equipment of other pipeline operators is so sensitive it can detect the loss of 20 barrels of oil over a 20-hour period.  By contrast, the Plains pipeline leaked about 2,500 barrels worth of oil in a matter of a few hours before the company’s crew manually shut it down.

Oops!  My bad.  Looks like a semi-automated pipeline with a key vulnerability –no automatic shut-down valve.  “All your leetle pipeline is belong to us.


Who wants to be the guy that tells Greg Armstrong his computer network has been completely hacked by the Rooskies?  Who wants to tell Californians –or Jerry Brown— that the Refugio pipeline breach is payback for the United States’ Christmas Eve cyberwar attack on the Rosneft/Transneft pipeline at Tuapse?  Better to blame it all on the cosmic forces of feng shui.


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.



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.



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.



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.



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!



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.



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.


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


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


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?


Goat Tell It On The Mountain

January 6, 2015

Anyone needing additional indications that Chinese (PRC) foreign policy might be influenced by feng shui principles would want to know about a recent festive event on the Sino-Indian frontier:

Chinese and Indian frontier soldiers exchanged New Year’s greetings in a joint celebration near the western part of the border area, in a move aimed to enhance mutual trust between the guards.  China is confident in maintaining long-term peace along the border, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, noting the two sides have launched a series of cooperation and communication mechanisms in recent years.


Although this may be good news for Chinese and Indian border guards, it’s not necessarily welcome tidings for would-be Tibetan refugees hoping to trek across the Himalayas to Dharamsala. The Chinese already have a policy of shooting whatever moves along the mountain trails, and the Indians aren’t exactly thrilled about having new residents in the neighborhood. Mutual trust, cooperation and communication mechanisms between China and India won’t make things any easier for the beleaguered Tibetans.

But that’s somebody else’s problem: for Comrade Eleven and the Central Kingdom, the paramount objective is to minimize the potential negative impact of feng shui Big Sha in the Year of the Goat. This means that problems in the South-Southwest must be avoided at all costs:

Each year, one of 60 Heavenly Generals in charge of assisting the Jade Emperor takes a turn at assuming the role of the Grand Duke (Tai Sui), and his appointment commences on the day of the “Lap Chun”.  Tai Sui is believed by Chinese to be a powerful Earth God who oversees matters that take place on Earth.  The goal is to appease Tai Sui at all times, since his mighty power affects various zodiac signs in different ways each year.  The penalty for offending the Tai Sui can come in many forms of misfortune, including ill health, accidents, career setbacks, financial loss, or personal injury involving loss of blood.

It is a common Chinese practice to pray to the Tai Sui at the start of a lunar year, to seek to be spared from harm and avoid ill feng shui winds or obstacles in life endeavors. The Tai Sui this year is in the South-South-West at 210 Degrees. Avoid facing the Grand Duke or disturbing him by “moving earth” in this region.  Keep an area affected by Tai Sui as calm and quiet as possible. This means keeping noise from any source to a minimum.

Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that the western part of the Sino-Indian frontier is located in China’s South-Southwest. Or maybe not.


In this feng shui context, Uighurs in Xinjiang Province should also modify their situational awareness:

In 2015 the Five Yellow Star lies in the West.  This 五黄灾星 & 三煞 is the catastrophe/ disaster star that represents just about any negative development that you could possibly imagine.  It brings with it loss of money and physical danger and a run of bad luck.

Is there a silver lining in the feng shui dark clouds gathering over Xinjiang Province?  Possibly.  The traditional feng shui cure for Medium Sha such as 5 Yellow is to place a string of six coins in the affected area, thus increasing the influence of the counteracting Metal element. Perhaps this means that Comrade Eleven will increase investment in the area in order to improve the lives of masses.  That’s what his father would have done.


Sqrt of 225

January 3, 2015

Every New Year’s Day in Pyongyang, the Kim clan patriarch delivers a state-of-the-realm speech that explicitly declares his initial Intent for the coming year. Every  year, the imperialist bourgeois propaganda organs of global capitalism (the so-called media) report on the North Korea New Year message –its an otherwise slow news day.  And every year –in this decade, at least– Lunghu provides a superficial, slapdash analysis of the way that mainstream media on three continents presents the North Korean message. The core of Lunghu’s analytical methodology can be summed up with an acronym that describes the five elements into which each news story can be decomposed … and their relative proportions evaluated. Are these five analytical components analogous to the five natural elements derived from Taoist philosophy that are used in feng shui?  Time will tell.

Lunghu uses the acronym SCRAM to describe the analytical dimensions he deploys:

[S] Summary (usually, the story’s lead paragraph)
[C] Context (“backstory”)
[R] Reaction (from official sources)
[A] Analysis (by “experts”)
[M] Message

As in prior years, major wire services are the main source of the news stories subjected to Lunghu’s analysis:

Agence France Presse
Associated Press

For each news article, the following data-presentation structure will be employed:

  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in the article devoted to: the DPRK message itself; context/background; official reaction, and explanatory analysis.
  • the sequential semantic structure of the article, using the relevant character code to designate paragraph type.
  • the name(s) of any analyst(s) quoted, and their organizational affiliation(s).
  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in the article devoted to each of three principal themes: inter-Korean relations; militarist posturing/tensions, and the DPRK economy.
  • noteworthy verbiage and polemic contained in the article (if any).


Agence France Presse: North Korean Leader Proposes Talks with South

23 total paragraphs

46% context/background [C]
4% official reaction [R]
14% explanatory analysis [A]
36% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

46% inter-Korean relations
23% militarist tensions
9% DPRK economy
18% human rights
4% Sony hacking

Analyst(s) quoted: Yoo Ho-yeol, professor at Korea University

Key verbiage:

“communist supremo”
“pariah state”
“isolated nation”
“mysterious Internet outage”
“chronic food shortages”
“malnourished population”
“dismal human rights record”


Associated Press:  North Korean Leader Open to Summit with South

14 total paragraphs

38% context/background [C]
15% official reaction [R]
12% explanatory analysis [A]
35% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

58% inter-Korean relations
19% militarist tensions
4% DPRK economy
11% Sony hacking
8% Confucian mourning ritual

Analyst(s) quoted: Cheong Seong-chang, researcher at the Sejong Institute

Key verbiage:

“Washington must abandon its ‘hostile policy’ and ‘reckless invasion plots’ against the North.”


Bloomberg: Kim Jong Un Open to ‘Highest-Level’ Talks With South Korea

16 total paragraphs

73% context/background [C]
7% official reaction [R]
13% explanatory analysis [A]
7% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

40% inter-Korean relations
33% militarist tensions
0% DPRK economy
27% personality cult

Analyst(s) quoted: Ahn Chan Il, World Institute for North Korea Studies
Bruce Bennett, Rand Corporation

Key verbiage:

“saber rattling”
“The United Nations human-rights committee vote in November [against North Korea] amounts to a ‘despicable ruckus,’ Kim said.”


ReutersNorth Korea Leader Kim Jong Un Says Open to Summit with South

12 total paragraphs

45% context/background [C]
10% official reaction [R]
0% explanatory analysis [A]
45% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

37% inter-Korean relations
27% militarist tensions
9% DPRK economy
27% Kim’s media style

Analyst(s) quoted: none

Key verbiage:

” ‘Annual large-scale (U.S.-South Korean) war exercises are a source of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and increase the threat of nuclear war,’ Kim said.”


Yonhap: N. Korean Leader’s Speech Arouses Cautious Optimism

21 total paragraphs

40% context/background [C]
0% official reaction [R]
30% explanatory analysis [A]
30% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
(35% mention Park Geun-hye)

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

68% inter-Korean relations
12% militarist tensions
10% DPRK economy
10% Park Geun-hye government

Analyst(s) quoted: Chang Yong-seok, researcher at Seoul National University
Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor at Korea University
Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies

Key verbiage:

“Kim spent unusual amounts of time stressing the significance of improved Seoul-Pyongyang relations. Kim [mentioned the topic] last year as well, but he spent more time and was more specific in addressing the issue this year.”

Bonus: The analysis of Professor Yang Moo-jin indicates that perhaps he has noted the interplay of hidden feng shui elements in the coming year’s ba zi chart: “Chances are high that the two sides will break the deadlock by showing a flexible attitude.




Although Lake Superior University has banned usage of this glib corpspeak catchphrase in 2015, Lunghu does not consider himself bound by the cultural imperialist edicts of mere backwater academics. Especially when he uses the bourgeoisie’s own opaque terminology –with heavy irony– as an implicit criticism of its obfuscating purpose and nature.


With that in mind, here’s Lunghu’s bullet point synopsis of this year’s DPRK media coverage:

  • Agence France Presse appears to have made the mistake of hiring Rupert Murdoch’s cashiered Fleet Street hack writers for its English-language operation. Without cellphone hacking to fall back on, these guys rely heavily on Cold War cliches (“communist supremo“) and pejorative stereotypes (“pariah state” & “isolated nation“) to perpetuate their Propaganda Model of journalism.  This doesn’t advance the interests of France  –in Asia or elsewhere. Also, AFP’s DG should remember that the human rights issue applies in Palestine as well as on the Korean peninsula.
  • Three out of five media outlets mentioned the relevance of this year’s 70th anniversary: Bloomberg characterized it as “the end of World War II,” while Yonhap and Associated Press more specifically  identified it as “Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.”  The partition of Korea between US and Russian spheres of influence began in 1945, and these two neo-colonial powers are still pulling many of the strings that imprison their unwilling puppets. Comrade Bear has invited both Kim and Park to visit Moscow in May. He may hope to broker a dramatic deal intended to burnish Russia’s tarnished international credentials. Lunghu predicts that a gas pipeline may be involved.
  • Associated Press closed its story with a tiny nugget of anonymous analytical insight that most people will ignore: “[Kim’s speech is his] first after the end of the traditional three-year mourning period after the death of his father in 2011. Some analysts believe that with the mourning period over, Kim will pursue policies that more closely reflect his own personal priorities.”  Let’s hope that Kim has read the memoirs of Zhang Xueliang, Hero of History.
  • Reuters and Yonhap noted Kim’s mention of reopening the Mount Kumgang tourist resort. Lunghu still believes that the path to dialog with Kim Jung-un will be achieved through mutual engagement on environmental issues.  But that will only become possible once the United States has held the mirror of human rights in front of its own face … and that of its principal strategic liability.  Admitting that “mistakes were made” and trying to change the subject ain’t anywhere near enough –either at home or abroad. The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious.


So, it doesn’t seem likely that the Year of the Goat will offer much in the way of US-DPRK rapprochement. But from a Korean perspective, there are still centuries upon centuries to come, ready to unspool ahead of the next generation and all the successive ones after that.  That’s far, far beyond the limited short-term horizon imposed by the mystic order’s two-year electoral cycle.  All the Kims, Parks, Lees and Chois in Korea can wait.  They’ll have to.

Comrade Lin Biao  used to recommend the following approach to dealing with class enemies: “Beat them, then comfort them. Comfort them, then beat them. Then, beat while comforting.”  Looks as though Comrade Wolf is trying the same method … but without much comforting.  Remains to be seen who will end up being beaten … in Afghanistan and elsewhere.