Saturday, August 19, 2017

No, but thanks for asking

Or "maybe, but that's actually not the sort of thing that the stars can usefully predict." Or "Cthulhu fthagn."

Anyway, the fourth of four 1A offerings at the morning fishwrap:

Donald Trump’s future, astrologers say, is written in the stars, and they’re predicting Monday's total solar eclipse will have serious consequences for the 45th president and for the country.

I suppose there are three sorts of reasons for its presence on the front:
  1. You (meaning, broadly, those responsible for the paper's news decisions) believe in the power of the stars to foretell the future. In this case, you should probably not make 1A decisions without adult supervision.
  2. You do not believe in the power of the stars to foretell the future but think your  readers do. In this case, you should direct your attention to the page where horoscopes and the Solunar Tables live.
  3. Neither you nor your readers hold to this charming set of beliefs, in which case you should (3A) save it for the April Fool's issue and (3B) remind yourself that we generally stop doing the April Fool's issue shortly after the first really embarrassing one in college. But do continue!
The movement of stars and planets have an impact on people, they say, and suggest that the Aug. 21 eclipse could be transformative for the nation and President Donald Trump. 

"I am genuinely concerned about the future of our country and beyond with all of that is happening in Trump's astrological chart. He and our nation are at a tipping point with this eclipse," said Rebecca Gordon, a New York-based astrologer and author who writes for Harper's Bazaar.

Trump was born on June 14, 1946, during a lunar eclipse. Though his sun sign is in the astrological sign of Gemini, he has Leo rising at 29 degrees on the star Regulus, and Mars in fiery Leo, said Gordon.

You can see why journalists have such trouble with stuff like the "margin of error."

Regulus (the royal star) on his rising and Mars poses a strict royal code of conduct, that if not adhered, can produce ruinous set-backs, she said.

His chart, Gorden said, is filled with “fire and fury” that is essentially being triggered by the degree of this eclipse. Those are the same  words he used to describe how America would respond to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s escalating threats of nuclear attack.

“I can’t believe he used those words,” she said.

You really should go read the whole thing; it doesn't technically get "better," but it does get gaudier:

... Gordon predicted that hidden information, possibly tied to the Russia investigation, will be revealed near Jan. 31, as well as around  Feb. 15 when the next set of Eclipses show up. These two also mirror the same exact Eclipses that occurred when Clinton was acquitted.

"An eclipse happens and the truth is revealed – curtains peel back and we are seeing often the dark underbelly " she said. This eclipse family has everything to do with abuses of power and especially within presidents and royal families."

But wait -- there's more!

Shelley Ackerman, a New York-based astrologer, says this eclipse cycle harkens back to the total solar eclipse of February 1979. Shortly before, the Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Iran. A few weeks later, the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster occurred in Pennsylvania.

“Of course, events happen not just on the day of the eclipse, but kind of circle around it a few months in either direction,” Ackerman said. “In 1979, we had Three Mile Island, so nukes were very much in the news.  We have the whole threat of a nuclear situation with North Korea is lingering right now."

Starting to get the idea that everything is close enough for rock 'n' roll?

... She pointed to last weekend’s civil unrest in Charlottesville, Va., and said that’s evidence of the power of the coming eclipse already at work.

“We’re seeing the eclipse already,” she said. “Look at this, our country is torn apart. The alt right saying,  ‘Oh the left is OK with people of color outnumbering the rest of us,’ ” she said, referencing the far-right group whose ideology supports racism, populism and white nationalism.

“This is a question: Does this eclipse trigger yet another layer of bringing into balance the sin that was slavery that started this country? It seems to be highlighted right now. There’s a whole group that believes not only that slavery is fine, but the complete mistreatment of anyone who isn’t white is OK, too.

“It feels like a combination of the Civil War and the next American Revolution revving up again.”

Astrologer Samuel F. Reynolds of New York also sees civil unrest related to race and power playing heavily into this eclipse.

“So what I discovered just the other day is that Nat Turner’s rebellion happened on Aug. 21, 1831," he said. "And that was interesting to me because that’s the exact day of the anniversary eclipse that we’re expecting Monday."

... “What was doubly interesting for me is that where he had his revolt in Southampton is 68 miles from Charlottesville, Va.,” he said. “That’s really only an hour’s drive from where this lightning rod of racial division and discord has surfaced."

Remember when they had "maps" and "atlases" in newsrooms? They might have suggested that both Richmond (the capital of the Confederacy) and the VOA transmitter in Pitt County!!! are closer than Charlottesville. Alex Jones, where art thou?

And yes, there's a local angle:

Kristy Robinett, a Michigan-based psychic/medium who uses energy readings to inform her astrological predictions, said she's not convinced war is looming. 

"Astrological energy seems to suggest more conflict and more violence, and that things will be shaken up, and it goes with the whole Mueller thing, too," she said. "But are we going to war? I don’t think so. I think we’re going to see more civil unrest, though."

Because Mercury is in retrograde during this eclipse, Robinett said some of the biggest effects of this astrological event might be more muted. 

In the old days, not running a bad story wasn't necessarily an ethics decision. You could always fall back on lack of space. That equation has changed. Killing a bad story is an active moral decision. You always have space somewhere on the internet; you have to decide, and to tell other people, that you're not running a story because it's bullshit, it insults the intelligence of even your stupidest readers, and it literally subtracts from the sum of human knowledge. Try it sometime! Particularly when, you know, journalism as we know it is actively under siege.