Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Festival (Day Nine): Pesky Foreigners Invade Your Browser

Mercury rules things like logic, math, and algorithms.... for most of us, the boring, behind the scenes details that actually make the Internet work. If you've spent much time on The Series Of Tubes over the last few years, you've probably noticed that not only are there as many ads as ever cluttering cyberspace, they've gotten a little more personalized. You see... I don't pretend to understand how it all works, but apparently Google knows all and sees all, and is able to base the ads it shows you based on what you're seeing or what you've looked at in the recent past, or whatever. Something like that.

Of course it's easy enough to write a program that reads the same words you read, and comes up with ads based on those words. That's why your online shopping for Egyptian Cotton bed sheets will get you ads for tours of the pyramids, or looking for items about "unemployment" will recommend more Facebook games. Anyone who has a GMail account knows the phenomenon.

Mercury is retrograde right now, and it seems to me that the whole Google Ads process may be a little wonkier than usual. It wasn't until yesterday that I was convinced of the effects of the retrograde on even simple software algorithms.

You see, ever since I moved to my new neighborhood, I've developed a fondness for (and fascination with) Mexican culture. And specifically, I've developed a fondness for this song:

...So, given where you can already imagine my sympathies lie with the current Immigration Reform debate, and the "show us your papers" law in Arizona, imagine my surprise to get THIS ad on Youtube, which I did a screen capture of and am positing here, largely as proof to myself that I wasn't really ad for Steve Poizner, who is a candidate for California Governor, and who I hadn't heard of until this ad cropped up... giving me the opportunity to do some research and find out just how not-my-kinda-guy he is.

Anyone who knows me, or has read my blog for long, can guess where I stand on the Big Immigration Debate. And Google Ads is, apparently, just smart enough to get it completely wrong, thus wasting my time and the advertiser's money

Most of these ads don't cost the advertiser that much, but cost the advertiser much more if you click on them. So from now on, whenever something like this comes up now, I open it a new windows. Lots of them. Then I clear my cache and complain.

Next Mercury Retrograde project? Trying to convince Facebook Ads that just because Mitt Romney is a fan of torturing his dog, I'm not a fan of his.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Our Weekend Romance Horoscope: April 23-25, 2010

The big news this weekend is Venus entering Gemini. If you go by the descriptions, Venus in Taurus was all sexy and sensual, whereas Venus in Gemini sounds like it's too busy organizing parties and chatting. And the Moon is in Virgo for most of the weekend, which brings with it a tendency to think too much rather than to take action. The truth, however, is that the vast majority of relationships start with some form of conversation... and regardless of your mood, if you spend all you're time inside your own head, you'll never get anywhere. So... get out there and get circulating. You'll get better results than you might think...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Festival (Day Twelve): Michelangelo And The Case Of The Undersized Penis

Mercury Retrograde is notorious for all sorts of miscommunication and misunderstandings. We're familiar with people misspeaking when they are angry or upset. Sometimes we mishear, for various reasons, what others say. Things can be taken out of context. And then there's always the bloggers favorite form of miscommunication... the typo.

Of course there are lots of ways to communicate. Art is a form of communication. And, as it turns out, one of the world's most famous works of art has been fundamentally misunderstood for the last five centuries. Since Michelangelo's sculpture of David, a marble wonder of anatomy, was completed in 1504, it has moved and inspired people with its profound emotional understatement and presence. In many ways, it approaches true perfection. And yet, for all the work Michelangelo put into it, perhaps its most famous feature is its... um, shortcoming:

David hasn't got a very heroic penis.

David's package has been the subject of snickers for centuries. Why is the physically perfect David lacking in the John Thomas department?

It turns out that the answer was dangling in front of everyones faces the whole time. The long and the short of it is this: there nothing wrong with the size of this sculpture's drumstick.. It is in fact as uncannily accurate as the rest of it's anatomy. To explain...

Two physiologists have performed a detailed computerized study (no word on whether or not the computer in question was a Wang) and it turns out that David is a remarkably perfect specimen. Not just his body, mind you... but his character as well. His stance, and the way his muscles are tensed, are perfect for someone who is ready for battle, and yet is attempting to keep it together. 

Given the perspective most viewers view the sculpture at, it's natural that whatever size David's old boy is, it's going to appear foreshortened from ground level. Now, if you were a little over five meters tall, and were able to look David in the eye, you would see, quite clearly, that David is worried:

Heroic, but worried. After all, he's about to do battle with the enormous and terrifying Goliath. And... if you are the owner of a penis yourself, or have spent a great deal of time around them, you know that it changes size. Regularly. And being tense or afraid makes even a non-erect longfellow reduce to a haiku, relative to its full form. This makes perfect evolutionary sense. If you are confronted with a predatory, the last thing you want to do is waste precious circulation on a reproductive organ, And you don't want to offer up a bonus  hors d'oeuvre to that predator either. Other things, like being cold, can cause temporary penile shrinkage too.

(Believe me, I know. I have one, and I've experienced fear. In Canada. In the winter.)

Had we met David under, um, different circumstances, David's dong would be much more impressive... perhaps not a Goliath itself, but certainly not a piker. So, in fact, David is amazingly accurate, not just in form but in character as well. Michelangelo captured him in a Moment Of Truth... and we do not always look our best when Moments Of Truth hit. And yet it took five centuries, two scientists, laser measurements, and a computer to uncover what should have been fairly obvious to everyone.

Miscommunication isn't something reserved for an exclusive, members-only club. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry can get things wrong once in a while. So, when that sort of thing happens to you... don't be a stiff about it it. Relax, use your head, and don't be a wiener about things. 

So: now that we've cleared that up... here's the real unresolved manhood mystery posed by this masterpiece: why isn't David, future King of the Jews, circumsized?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Festival (Day Zero): Mitt Romney Loves His Wife, And Loves Torturing His Dog

Between now and May 11th, I will be presenting classic examples of things screwing up during Mercury Retrogrades. Here's the first entry, presented (in true Mercury Rx fashion) a day late.

(First, a warning: I really try to keep my own political prejudices out of the astrology, so forgive me if you are upset by the following. I've made sure that it's based entirely on objective verifiable statements.)


It was supposed to be a friendly puff piece about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's personal life... but thanks to Mercury Retrograde, it turned into a damaging revelation. The Boston Globe interviewed Mitt and his sons about Romney family life: the wife, the kids, and the dog. Unfortunately, it was the dog who ended up getting most of the press, as Romney's son Tagg let this anecdote about Life With Father slip, while transiting Mercury was retrograde in Cancer:

To quote the Time article on the matter:
The incident: dog excrement found on the roof and windows of the Romney station wagon. How it got there: Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.

Regardless of Romney's various political stances, this did not win him a whole lot of votes from PETA. Or even conservative pundits.

...and given that Romney is considered by many to be the front-runner for Republican Presidential candidate, you can count on hearing about this again.

NEXT TIME: The mystery of Michelangelo's David and and his teeny wiener, resolved at last!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

American Pigeons: A Story About Saturn In Virgo (UPDATED)

(Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water... Saturn has retrograded back into Virgo. The advice in this entry all still applies, and you can read the update HERE. Stay calm!)

I was born and raised in Canada, which in most respects is more like America than it is unlike America. But there are certain interesting differences. Like, for example... the pigeons. In both countries, pigeons can be found in any major city, bobbing along and picking at the wreckage left by humans and generally provoking anger at their tendency to crap on things.

In an urban setting, pigeons make an interesting metaphor for the functions of a Saturn transit. Saturn itself is often associated with the detritus pigeons pick off the street. Saturn also has a lot to do with excrement -- both literally and figuratively.

Although they are essentially the same birds performing the same function in both countries, I have noticed one distinct difference between the birds in the two countries:

American pigeons don't keep out of your way.

Canadian pigeons tend to leave a respectful distance between themselves and the foot traffic they encounter every day. American pigeons, on the other hand, seem to take a certain delight in pushing their luck. They're more "in your face." They still get out of your way, of course, eventually -- cockiness only goes so far as an evolutionary strategy -- but they are more blatant. And, as a result, they provoke a greater response from the average person. In America, one is much more likely to hear pigeons referred to as "rats with wings." I don't recall a Canadian ever getting annoyed with them to the same degree.

Saturn is on its final swing through Virgo now, where it has played hell with a lot of people's lives since 2007. There will be a brief retrograde return visit in 2010, but for the most part -- we're done with it. In October Saturn passes into Libra, which may not be great news for Libras -- but it is the sign of Saturn's exaltation, so for many it will be a more comfortable fit.

In my experience, however, it's the time when Saturn is passing through the end of a sign is that the difficulties of the last two years may not be necessarily worse... but somehow they are more obvious. In other words... those damned pigeons aren't getting out of the way very quickly or easily.

Be brave. We only have a little further to go. Don't kick at those pigeons... they'll be out of your way soon enough.

Our Weekend Romance Horoscope: April 16-18, 2010

Maybe you're just in love with the idea of love this weekend, rather than Love Itself... or with an actual person. Your emotional connections are likely to be on your mind a lot, but not with any real obvious progress. The Moon is in Gemini for the bulk of the weekend, which is certainly great for thinking things over and communicating romantic intent... but may not actually be so great on following through. Hmmm... combining thoughts and communications to make future romantic plans come true? It's a shame there isn't some way you could do that, like a web site or something...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mercury Retrograde: Don't Just Take It, Fight Back! (Also: Free Bacon!)

Yes, it's true: on April 18th Mercury turns retrograde. It's traditionally a time when things tend to go wrong... specifically, with things like making plans, delivering lectures, and signing books. That's why I've boldly planned to deliver a lecture and sign my book on April 24th...

THIS LECTURE SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING: A Practical Guide To Mercury Retrograde

-Practical Advice!
-A Book Signing!
-$20 in freebies via e-mail!
-Free Bacon!

7 PM, April 24th 2010, Tedda Hughes Gallery, 1623 Polk Street, San Francisco.

Now, why would an astrologer plan a Mercury Retrograde lecture during a Mercury Retrograde? Easy: if anything goes wrong, it just illustrates my point. Besides, we're gonna have a good time, so why not?

Also, did I mention the bacon?

See you there!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our Weekend Romance Horoscope: April 9-11, 2010

Happy April Fools Day! Oh, wait... that was the first of the month. Well, you could have fooled me... especially this weekend. The Moon enters Pisces on Friday and stays there throughout the weekend. It's a great time for a romantic mood... but an even better time to make missteps with your personal life based on fleeting moods. So go ahead an move your romantic agenda ahead, and don't be surprised if it's a wonderfully romantic time. Or, don't be too surprised if it seems that way at the time. Or not. I'm confused and have no idea why. Oh, right, Moon's in Pisces...