I would like to say a few words about my close friend Axel Harvey, who I'm informed died yesterday.
As part of my efforts to be ready for wherever my next employment takes me, I've shifted my email home. For a long time my usual practice has been for email to end up delivered to my home computer, which I log into remotely from wherever I am. The way I see it is that my personal email is mission-critical, and I don't want my email home to be on any computer I don't control, especially not one belonging to an employer or to Google. I have had content in my email subject to a court case before, the other side in that case wasn't able to interrupt my email because they had no right to and it was all routed through systems controlled by people who understood that, and I'd like to keep things that way.
Running my own email service requires my home computer to be accessible on the Net at all times, and I've now had a couple of adventures in which it or its Net connection stopped working while I was away from home and I had to switch to less useful backup systems. So, as of today, my email is now going to a leased server elsewhere on the Net. I can connect to it remotely from wherever I have a good connection, even if my home computer doesn't. This may be especially useful if, as seems quite possible, my current home computer goes into storage for a while and I end up spending a lot of time without an operational home computer of my own at any fixed location.
It may have been inevitable that this or something like it would happen, because the astrological community has a long history of making extralegal claims on factual information. Many algorithms have been published in books with copyright notices claiming that if you implement the algorithms, then you can only use the resulting software for non-profit purposes. That's a transparent attempt to claim software patent protection (inherently questionable already) without having a patent at all, using copyright law as the basis instead, so as to get the much longer term and lack of review applicable to copyrights instead of patents.
The Unix time-zone database - necessary to the operation of Linux-based computers and many other systems around the world as well - has been withdrawn from distribution because of a lawsuit filed by Astrolabe Inc. I'm really saddened to hear of this, because I liked Astrolabe. They've been in the business of selling astrological software for a long time, and they make many popular products, some of which I have used and recommended. But now I can't give them any more money nor can I recommend that others do so, because they have attacked the basic infrastructure of global computing. The word "terrorism" is so overused now as to be practically worthless, but attacks on infrastructure are often mentioned when people try to define it. Shame on you, Astrolabe.
A reader sent me this link on "The Astrological Eris" and I thought it was quite interesting both from an astrological and mythological point of view - and it's serious, with not a fnord to be seen. I haven't done much thought or research on the astrological implications of 136199 Eris except to propose the Golden Apple as symbol; as this commentator points out, it has a very long orbit and so will appear in pretty much the same location in the charts of anyone alive today. This is a sign of the times rather than (for most of us) a personal influence. Signs of the times are important too, though, and his thoughts on envy, the connection with Chiron, and allergies, all seem interesting to me. Also, one of the religious groups I'm involved with is planning an event in honour of, among others, Ares the brother of Eris; so it is well to do the homework.
From the article:
One thing, however, that cheers me about Eris is that its difficult associations will force astrologers to take a more cautious view of the new planet's benefits. It's traditional for newly-discovered heavenly bodies to be hailed by the woolier end of the astrological community as symbols of spiritual enlightenment, universal harmony, and other New Age bromides. Even Chiron, who has one of the saddest and most pessimistically pragmatic stories in myth, full of irreversible loss and chronic pain, was seen in some quarters as the astrological poster-boy for 'healing' in the tofu-and-shamanic-drumming sense.
Tell 'em, brother!
Okay, the astrological chart service is back up. There are still some things to be fixed behind the scenes, and so its reliability may be a little spotty for a while, but at least it runs right now.
This entry gathers together information on using TeX and LaTeX for astrological documents, including both software I've released myself, and links to other resources. This is the master entry, which will be updated from time to time; I may also post brief announcements linking back to it as things get updated and changed.
When I switched to the new computer I found that a lot of my trickier LaTeX code - including, for instance, the files I use to produce my Japanese-language flash cards - no longer worked with the TeX/LaTeX installation that came with the new Slackware, and I was faced with a choice of going forward (converting all my code to work with some new installation, whether that or another), or going back (and restoring the entire TeX/LaTeX installation from the old machine). I decided to go forward. As a result I've spent a fair bit of time in the last few days tweaking different pieces of software. The astrological chart service is probably still down, though I'm getting closer to having it work again; I couldn't get CJK and its associated packages to work at all in the amount of time I was willing to spend, so I ended up taking "grendelkhan"'s suggestion and switching to XeTeX for my Asian-language typesetting. I ended up also switching the book manuscript to XeTeX for other reasons, and that was an adventure because of compatibility between XeTeX, the sffms class, and the commercial font I wanted to use.
The news, however, is this: I just got mail from Anthony Owen, the designer of the Starfont astrological fonts, and he confirms that he has released them to the public domain. Yay! There had formerly been some uncertainty and people were hesitant to use or distribute the fonts for that reason. So it's now on my list to put together a new version of the LaTeX package I wrote - but of course I also want to go in and add all the updates and fixes that have come up in the years since I last updated it, so there'll be some nontrivial work involved beyond just changing the licensing notes.
Revised version of a Livejournal posting of 27 August 2005.
I consider astrology to be primarily a form of art. It's a way for us to express our creative powers. From that point of view, asking whether celestial forces influence the tenor of our lives becomes somewhat like asking whether The Starry Night is an accurate portrayal of how some real starry night physically appeared, such as might be produced by a skilled but not particularly artistic photographer. It's just not an interesting question.
No chance in Hell I'd sell my gold for mud
And give up hope of wiping off the stain.
She tapped in vain and never tasted blood
The toxic arrow lost into the sky.
Now chance repeats the lesson; have I learned
This random mapping on the complex plane?
I stalked the archer, saw the fire, was burned;
Devoured the pseudoscientific lie.
One day defines the gap from thee to thee
One speck of dust can tip the cloud to rain
In one night both of you could take from me
The difference I can't plausibly deny.
Corroborate the price at which I'll sell;
Dial in the bids, and ring the opening bell.