Dear Fellow Seeker Along the Road to Xibalba:
Earlier in the week, a reader sent me this article from Monday’s New York Times about the government wanting expanded powers to wiretap the Internet, and asked what I thought was up. I had a feeling she was curious about the current Scorpio astrology covered last week. Scorpio often has a sense of the covert, and Venus retrograde looks like a search for inner secrets of some kind. I also get the feeling of Chiron conjunct Neptune — the truth about the technosphere (represented by Aquarius) coming into focus (Chiron) after a long dreamy delusion of privacy (Neptune).
After I give you the background on the story, I have a question for you, which you may respond to or take rhetorically.
“Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is ‘going dark’ as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone,” the Times article began.
Basically, federal officials want Congress to require that all communication services, such as Facebook, BlackBerry and Skype, have prebuilt interception capability — that is, to be plug-and-play ready for surveillance on you. “The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages,” the Times reported. Under the proposed law, new services and devices would be designed to have back doors built in, and existing services would need to be retrofitted. In theory, only the government would have the keys.
But the Times relayed a story it heard from Steven M. Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor, about an episode in Greece. In 2005, it was discovered that hackers had taken advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on top officials’ phones, including the prime minister’s. “I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Bellovin said. “If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.”
In reality, this is nothing new. Law enforcement has the ability to use the GPS in your cellphone to easily track your location, and as long as the battery is installed, they can activate the phone’s mic and listen to you. In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, we learned that the Bush administration was organizing wiretaps and secret home visits in the name of national security, bypassing a special top-secret federal court — the FISA Court — designed to oversee just that function. Historically, FISA has been extremely generous granting permission to wiretap, approving 99% of the government’s requests. So if the administration wanted to go around the FISA Court, we can imagine it was up to something that was especially inappropriate. (I once had an assignment to write about the FISA Court from the well-respected journal Covert Action. After researching the thing I was so spooked that I turned the assignment over to my friend Phil. Here it is.)
And just what was the administration up to that it couldn’t collect rubber stamps on its pro-forma, all-purpose search warrants? That may have been the Porn.gov project that I’ve been proposing for a while as a solution to the national debt. The government would take all the millions of photos, videos, text messages and voice recordings that it collects, and make them available to everyone for a subscription fee. This would also fulfill the nearly universal desire everyone has to spend a day as a porn star. I would definitely sign up — for the good of the country.
The Bush-era spy program seemed to be a revival of an older FBI program called Cointelpro that ran from the 1940s through the 1970s, spying on everyone from the Black Panthers to John Lennon to Howard Zinn. Well, it did more than spy on them; agents working on the program would destroy private relationships of movement leaders by leaving fake love letters in dresser drawers, try to get people deported, or in the case of Zinn (author of A People’s History of the United States), worked to get him fired from his teaching post at Boston University. Zinn’s crime was being ‘liberal’. (Note to Universe: I am a member of the New York State Conservative Party*.)
The website Raw Story summed it up this way: “The new Cointelpro records on Zinn show the government was obsessed with the Brooklyn-born university professor who served as a fighter pilot in World War II. He turned against the Vietnam War and led rallies in the 1960s and 1970s. One of his targets was government surveillance against anti-war activists. Did he know the government was spying on him? He probably suspected it.”
In a paper published shortly before he died, Zinn encouraged activists to keep exposing these spy programs. Commenting on the FBI, he wrote, “They don’t like social movements. They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things. So the best defense against them and resistance against them is simply to keep on fighting back, to keep on exposing them.”
Now the Obama administration wants to be able to intercept your BlackBerry messages, your texts, your Facebook posts, your email and your Skype calls — clearly, they know how dangerous you are. The phone tap started recording when they heard you say, “Yes we can.”
“We’re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts,” Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the FBI, reassures us. She told the Times, “We’re not talking expanding authority. We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.”
Aah yes, good old national security, and the safety of we, the public; and working to preserve existing authority. Tell that to the FISA Court. Note to those outside the United States — if this becomes policy here, it will most likely become policy everywhere except places that have a particular obsession with and respect for their citizens’ privacy.
For those who live in the U.S., have you ever read the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution? It’s short and sweet and one of the foundation stones of our Republic. It says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
In other words, as a citizen of the United States of America, you have the right to your privacy. And every time we turn around, the government or some company is mining your data, willy-nilly. Phone company employees have confirmed for me that yes, certain words used in ordinary conversation start the recording devices back at headquarters.
And Now For That Question
Why don’t we care?
Do we believe these surveillance programs will help make our lives safer? I don’t think anyone does, and besides, we don’t need to spy on the entire population for that — and such is not really useful. If we did, everyone would need their own personal spy to keep up with them, and certain teenagers would need one of those black vans with five dudes in suits sitting there — just to keep up with the text messages.
I took a survey this morning and two of my colleagues said they thought that being spied on makes people feel more important. After all, if the government spied on Martin Luther King and John Lennon, and now they want to spy on you, that makes you special, like them. (It makes me feel less special; I’ve always felt honored that I earned having my phone tapped by writing about GE and Monsanto; now every shmoe with a smart phone is going to get the same treatment.)
I think this is a pretty good theory, by the way. We all want to feel like somebody cares about what we’re saying or thinking. We want to feel dangerous. It’s the same mentality that enables us to update our Twitter with what we’re making for dinner, or update Facebook about having gas.
To sum up, there are three trends that I can identify:
1. We’re being increasingly surrounded by recording and data transmission devices that the government can spy on, and then corporations can use that data to do marketing research and keep the world safe from terrorism. That’s why when I visit obscure websites, they feature ads from B+H Photo (where I shop) showing me pictures of, and providing links to, exactly, precisely the lenses I want to buy (to wit, the Canon 16-35 L Series, f 2.8). Do we think someone installed a cookie on my disk drive? Or are they just taking a wild guess that I love somewhat exotic, top-of-the-line wide-angle lenses??
2. We are using social networking, text messages, cameras, and video cameras to record ourselves and share all sorts of information with people we know, and with lots of people we’ve never heard of. There are people who tweet away all day and night; nothing gets left out. We put everything into emails, post it to our blogs, and store it in various locations in ‘the cloud’. Many people back their whole disk drive onto remote locations in ‘the cloud’. Lots and lots and LOTS of people share sexy photos, videos and text messages. Once we press ‘send’ on a photo, video or document for the first time, it then exists in the virtual world, it can be reproduced infinitely and basically attaches itself permanently to our karma.
3. We are obsessed with privacy. God forbid that anyone knows what we’re thinking or what we want. If some website shares your email address and you get an extra spam, your health insurance will still cover you if you get so freaked out you have a heart attack. Your physical address may be available free in 100 databases you’ve never heard of (start with various online White Pages listings), but you’re still allowed to panic when you think that someone will find their way to your house via your IP address. We would be mortified if people knew what we’re doing or what we’re thinking, or who we’re emailing or what we say to them. That’s private information! But we broadcast it like wildfire.
Yet we do nothing when we find out that we’re being spied on. I have another theory about why.
There Are No Private Thoughts
Those who have started A Course in Miracles (many have started the lessons; fewer have finished) have encountered the idea fairly early on that minds are joined. The whole basis of the Course and many other concepts of healing work with the idea that the boundary we perceive as separating minds (and bodies) is not only a leading cause of sickness, it’s not actually there. One of the most helpful ways we can facilitate healing is to see past this nonexistent veil and dissolve the ‘spell of isolation’. On a linguistic note, the word cancer derives from the Latin carcer, which means to be alone or imprisoned, such as incarcerate.
Early Course lessons that cover this idea include “I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my seeing” and “I am not alone in experiencing the effects of my thoughts.” One of the concepts here is that how we see the world affects others; we are not perceiving privately, we are transmitting our ideas and feelings with every brainwave.The boundary that we think of the ego as presenting is a penetrable veil. It exists, but mainly in our imaginations. At the heart of the healing theory of A Course in Miracles is the idea that what we keep in the shadows makes us sick and that minds joining their light makes us well.
In the past couple of decades, as cultural beliefs and customs have changed, and as the quickening of energy has proceeded, we have all had some experience of going through or beyond the veil. It might come as a dream that reveals or hints at the future, or becoming aware of another person’s thoughts without any conventionally sensory means of transmission. Nearly everyone has had contact with a dead relative, even if they chose not to believe it later (that is the ego at work, pretending the boundary is really there). Increasingly, the notion that we can ‘keep a secret’ is being recognized as a farce.
Even people who don’t necessarily believe in ‘psychic powers’ assume that eventually others will ‘pick up’ the truth of what they’re thinking or feeling. Or they fear people will, and that experience of maintaining the boundary can consume a lot of psychological energy. It almost always comes as a relief when the ‘wall’ falls down and we can live with the truth.
One of my observations about the Internet is that it’s a model of how our minds really work (with unique identities and locations, but sharing a common psychic space), but established in a mechanical way. Looked at one way, the entire Internet is a kind of low astral plane that, for the most part, is easy to access and is still there when you go back. Looked at another way, we are pioneers in a new dimension of reality, which we are establishing with our thought forms both in data, and in our belief that the thing exists. The Net exists on two levels: as a collection of data, and a collection of what you can think of as everyday archetypes that we build up with our attention and belief in their existence.
In this environment, we get to experiment in revealing ourselves. We get to voluntarily pierce the veil of privacy and express many of our most personal thoughts and feelings. We can do so ‘anonymously’, but always with the feeling that somehow the anonymity might come back to us. The process of revealing, as you may have figured out, can be an incredible relief. We finally have a place to reveal the depths of our thoughts, and be heard by someone who can relate.
We also get to experiment with being different people — that is, with alter egos. The boundaries of name, age, gender, location, social status, marital status, career, sexual orientation and any other ego definition you can think of are temporarily suspended on the Internet. This has provided incalculable relief to many people who otherwise feel totally trapped in their ego constructions and think they have no other way out; no other way to be themselves. This again is a model for what is happening on various astral levels that we can access through dreamtime experiences, meditation, creation of art and use of certain plant allies.
And, finally, we can have our veils pierced for us. We know that people really can feel, sense and sometimes know explicitly what we’re thinking, without our having revealed it to them. Some may invade our borders, and this can be an actual violation, as we saw at Rutgers University this week. Some we may invite in; others find their way there, with us aware of it or not. We hope they feel our fantasies of them. On one level we might be mortified that anyone would know what we’re thinking the last 15 seconds before orgasm — and on another we want people to know precisely that.
On the Internet, we’re immersed in this potential all the time, as we share many of our most intimate thoughts. I think it makes us feel better to know that someone, somewhere is watching; that someone out there cares.
Yours & truly,
*Before the elections, I will reveal my plan to take over the conservative movement and wage a revolution from within.
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves
You’ve got to hand it to our Republican brethren. Even their infighting and vote-splitting do not daunt their confidence that they are destined to rule the world. As is written into its standard operating procedure, the Party of No gives no quarter, admits no fault, and blames the other guy for everything. Some might see that as dedicated and disciplined, but I have had a political month, working the county Democratic booth at local fairs and events. I’ve seen this attitude close up. I’ve debated with it, and I think it displays the temperament of a stereotypical Missouri mule: thick-headed, unteachable and immovable. The GOP expects victory because they’re sure they represent the actual, if unrecognized, will of the people, given by the Divine in a New Testament verse that reads, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” See there? God doesn’t care about business, so they get to do whatever they want.
Pushed in these last months to put forward a leadership plan, and threatened by the popularity of their more radical members, House Republicans issued their newest version of Contract with America this week. The original Contract was fashioned from Newt Gingrich’s alliance with the religious right and Libertarian-leaning conservatives, resulting in a referendum blitzkrieg that ripped both houses of Congress from Clinton’s hands in 1994. The original Contract with America was one of those cyclic flirtations with ‘purity’ that the right can’t seem to do without, drawing in religious conservatives akin to Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and giving them a movement to rally around. In such a climate, Monica was the gift that kept on giving, dragging Clinton down into the same impeachment frenzy that the right plans for Obama the Muslim.
The GOP calls this paler 2010 playbook their Pledge to America, a promise to carry Reagan and Bush policies forward until government is completely privatized and as thin as their talking points. To sum up this ‘new’ leadership pledge in the esteemed words of Nancy Reagan, they will ‘just say no’ to anything Obama wants, along with investigating and repealing everything he’s accomplished in the past two years. In their spare time they will continue to promote corporate welfare so that taxes aren’t unfairly raised on the very rich, and attempt as best they can to shut down government. In short, there’s nothing here to see, citizen, move along. Even their own members yawned as they got in party line, save a few who found the economics objectionable. On that front, New York Times economist Paul Krugman said the Pledge was “nonsense,” adding, “Banana republic, here we come.”
Virgo Birthday Audio: The Revolution Has Arrived
Dear Virgo Sun, Moon or Rising:
I’ve just finished your 2010 birthday/ascendant audio, and it is fun — a breakthrough audio product in a year when I’ve been learning how to work in this medium.
I appreciate your patience; the letters have kept coming in steadily asking when it would be ready, and I’m happy to say that it is, and it’s excellent. In fact I didn’t realize how much was going on in so many of the most meaningful houses of your solar chart, and how they all work together. Mercury retrograde is over, the fog has cleared and I’ve focused on several other significant transits — though I do offer a new interpretation of Mercury retrograde in your sign. And I have some thoughts about what it means that Saturn has finally left.
I focus on the revolution in your identity that will arrive with Uranus in the 8th house, Aries. This will help you divest from all that you don’t want to be invested in, and establish your true identity in your own life and in your relationships. I look at the movement of Saturn, which has left your sign and is now in your 2nd solar house, Libra — and how this is about identifying your true values, and standing strongly in them.
Venus retrograde in Scorpio is a quest for what it means to be a woman, what women mean to you, or both. This transit, which takes us through late November, will help you discover skills and information that you will depend on for the next 10 years, and I explain how to make the most of it. In the audio I describe Venus retrograde as a course in personal investigative reporting. This transit is designed to help us understand the truth about who we are.
Chiron and Neptune are moving into your 7th house — Pisces — and this suggests many new experiences and reference points in your most intimate relationships. I describe this as putting on 3-D glasses and the whole world jumping into perspective.
And I cover how you identify with your work — that is, how you can become your true calling rather than “doing a job.”
This astrology reading is more than 60 minutes, plus an additional 20 minutes of tarot. It’s direct, intimate and personal, and will offer you much in the way of insights. Is it as effective as a personal reading with me, costing 20 times as much? I would say — it will come close. This will give you all of what you are looking for on some topics and get you most of the way to what you need on others, always leaving you plenty of room for your personal interpretation. In the end you decide what your astrology means to you; in this audio, I do my best to offer some useful interpretations.
Thank you for your business.
Yours & truly,
Weekly Horoscope for Friday, October 1, 2010, #833 – BY ERIC FRANCIS
Now that you reached the bottom line of a relationship, what have you learned? What is that seemingly ‘final’ piece of information about a person or a situation? I think that what you’ve demonstrated to yourself is that you can see the potential for letting go entirely, that is, the potential for having no attachments. You’ve also encountered an example of how situations have limits, including time limits. Then, having come to these recognitions, you’re in a place to choose based on the information. You may again be feeling your attachment or investment; you may be wondering whether you’re going to get the contact you need. And you may be wondering about someone else who you’ve noticed. I think that the clearest revelation you can have involves something about how relationships are not so simple, but they’re simpler when you make choices based on what you want.
Aries Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
You’re starting to see the value of your commitments. They serve many functions, including keeping your life on track. What you may be figuring out lately is how, to be valid, these arrangements have to work well for both people. We’re used to spending our lives saying “what’s in it for me?” chasing the next check, though I suggest you look at all equations from both sides. If you think you’re worth the price of your paycheck, ask yourself why that is. Consider the experience of anyone to whom you devote yourself or your energy. I suggest you set a goal of these relationships being oriented on maximum profit for all the parties involved. There is an efficiency factor here; energy conserved becomes profit made. There is a creativity factor as well: everything that exists owes its life to one creative process or another. Feed them generously.
Taurus Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
Mercury has finally entered new territory for the first time since being retrograde on Aug. 20, though the sense of being bogged down in something may have begun several weeks earlier. It’s been a while since you felt emotionally free, and you may be taking your first tentative steps in a while. Life would be easier if you didn’t critique yourself every 15 minutes. There are few places to turn for advice about how to worry less. I would suggest this: take steps where you feel like you’re on solid ground, rather than where you feel yourself sinking in. That goes for thoughts, it goes for people and it goes for actions you take to create a safer world for yourself. Everything you need to know, your mind and emotions are going to give you in direct feedback. And that will work great — as long as you listen to yourself.
Gemini Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
You seem to want both certainty and a sense of adventure. Many would argue that you cannot have both. But there is such a thing as having a foundation; then there is what you do with that foundation. Some people keep pouring the concrete; others would build something innovative. This isn’t so much about a structure as it is what you do with your creative and erotic energy. Remember that most of what we cling to that offers a sense of security rarely delivers, and usually leaves us bored and wanting something else. You have the foundation you need; you have some confidence. Now, your quest is to give yourself permission to actually be the person you want to be and to have the experiences you want to have. And if something that ‘makes you safe’ is preventing you from doing that, it’s definitely time to reconsider things from a new point of view.
Cancer Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
You are at a turning point, but it’s less like making a left turn in a car, and more like the ocean tide changing directions. You seem to be taking the future more seriously. You seem to be devoted to grounding yourself in work that leads to success rather than just a paycheck or something to do. The planets suggest that you take every step consciously, and be certain that you’re not skipping any steps along the way. These involve paying attention to your environment and your relationships. Of the first, it’s clear that you’re involved in a process of many reforms and changes that are long overdue and will help get the energy moving. Of the second, remember that your life is intricately interdependent on the life of someone else. Their success is your success; yours is theirs. Therefore, put the relationship first and the success will dependably follow.
Leo Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
Mercury has finally entered new territory in your birth sign, and this is your signal that it’s time to start moving your life forward in a way that felt impossible three or four weeks ago. Notice how the obstacles that seemed so enormous now look like little models you can move around on the table. Notice how the time pressures have eased enough to give you some flexibility, and how you’re not struggling with exhaustion on a daily basis. Still, you would be wise to conserve your energy and make choices one at a time. Economy and efficiency are two of the most important themes of your life. To a great extent that involves what you do with your mental energy, and I strongly suggest you do a kind of audit accounting for how much anxiety costs you in the way of time and creative potential. In fact there are days when most of your energy goes into fear. There is a better way, and you’re going to find it because you want it.
The Virgo Audio Birthday Report is available. In the format of all the birthday audios, this offers more than an hour of astrology for Virgo and Virgo rising, covering the cardinal T-square from a personal perspective. I’ve also included a 20-minute tarot reading using the Voyager Deck. For instant access, order here for Virgo and Virgo Rising. Only $14.95, this also makes a meaningful and economical gift.
You seem to be pulled in two directions, as if you want two different things that you believe conflict. Or, you ‘want something for someone else’ that doesn’t quite align with your personal desires. In the next few days you will see that there is indeed a point of reconciliation. You may not get a look at it for very long. It may show up as one of those fleeting possibilities you notice in a slightly altered state of mind or think of right before you fall asleep. But there is in fact a point where everyone’s needs meet in a way that benefits all. Once you have that potential in mind, and you believe that it’s real, you’ll need to go through a process to have it happen. But this will be simpler if you remember that the goal of the endeavor is happiness. If you focus on that at every step of the way, you’re more likely to have it.
Libra birthday audio is coming soon.
There are two basic ways to have intimate relationships. One is to seek another person for a sense of completion, because they have something you’re missing, and hopefully vice versa. The second way is to be a complete person and meet another complete person and have a kind of partnership, journey or human enterprise. Most of the time we seek the first option. The planets are reminding you that your mission is to work with the rarely used second method — another way of saying work with your inner sense of balance. Make contact with the male and female principles you contain, no matter what your sex or sexual orientation. There may be conditions in your life that are compelling you to take a more introspective view of your relationships. Indeed there are some Scorpios or Scorpio ascendant natives that may be experiencing an unusual sense of isolation. Yet by now you know that this is serving a useful, even vital, purpose.
You’re in one of those moments when if you do what you love, the world will respond with love. Remember not to question your chosen purpose. That’s another way of saying proceed with the quiet confidence that you’re doing the right thing. You may not feel like you’re at your creative peak; you may still be taking care of what feel like the minor points. I suggest you keep taking care of those things at the same time you nourish your larger vision. The thing about larger visions is that they don’t take shape immediately, and they do a lot of their taking shape when we can’t quite see what’s going on. However, I strongly suggest you trust that this mysterious process is underway, and that you’ll get results. Even if they’re not quite the results you’re expecting, you will have plenty to work with and some pleasant surprises. For now, every detail counts toward the whole.
There are those moments when you figure out what you’re good at because you do it and discover you’re doing it well. Those moments can be points of decision without you even recognizing that. They can be moments of putting your feet on the true path of your life, and you had no idea what you were doing. Thanks to astrology you have a clue: you can be aware that you’re now at an intersection where the past, the present and the future converge. At this juncture you have the ability to shift the flow of your destiny; in a sense, you can make a choice that does something to resolve the past and activate the future in one gesture. I am not sure you’ll recognize this moment when it happens, but I can tell you that if you live consciously and pay attention to who and what is around you, and what opportunities are open, you will be that much more open and available.
The Capricorn Audio Birthday Report is available. In the format of all the birthday audios, this offers more than an hour of astrology for Capricorn and Capricorn rising, covering the cardinal T-square from a personal perspective. I’ve also included a 20-minute tarot reading using the Voyager Deck. For instant access, order here for Capricorn and Capricorn Rising. Only $14.95, this also makes a meaningful and economical gift.
I suggest you shift modes quickly, if you were or are currently doing the push/discipline/focus thing — you’ve gone as far as you can go with that for now, and over the next few weeks you have a nice opening for flow/inspiration. The idea here is not to ease back entirely and coast along, but rather to apply your ideas as they come and develop your talents on an ongoing basis, as a kind of intuitive experiment. You can afford to be a little less goal-centered and a little more exploratory. You will find something that hooks your interest or qualifies as a plan that you can get into through a more circumspect approach. This is the part that may qualify as learning, which is suspending rationality, linear thinking and logic, and allowing your intuition to take over. I realize there are skeptics who argue that there is no such thing as intuition, right along with ghosts and UFOs. But in this situation seeing will definitely mean believing.
Aquarius Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.
You’ve fulfilled several key commitments or responsibilities recently, and I suggest you give yourself a break. This continues the theme of “do what makes you feel like a Pisces,” which might involve music, art, sex, poetry or ‘alternative’ states of consciousness — you have one foot in the dreamtime, so put that to good use. I’m suggesting that you do this as a way to create ‘inner space’ — that is, to open up a space in yourself that can be filled by the inspiration that is currently pouring in, and that will do so increasingly over the next couple of weeks as the Sun makes a trine to the Chiron-Neptune conjunction. For the past week of the Sun in Libra, you’ve been looking right at Saturn, which has been about keeping your focus and maintaining your relationships. Now that the Sun-Saturn conjunction of 2010 has joined that thing known as history, you’re being invited to go freestyle for a while — and that is what I would, in a word, describe as Pisces.
Pisces Birthday Audio by Eric Francis is available. Check this link for more information.