None of it is.
I remember thinking the Astronomy class in high school would be so much fun, but then again, it had math. A lot of it. Confusing math. Like, what is the Local Hour Angle and the Right Ascension anyway?
Advanced high school classes blended math with prickly practical applications. These classes would strip math from it’s formal black tie attire and put it in jeans and a t-shirt. Math would flip it’s hat and it’s chair backward. It’d squat down in it’s timberland boots and keep it real about how velocity is meters per second squared.
My friends and I walking home from school would be followed by a chevy van. The window would roll down.
“Hey kids,” the man from within the van would say, “You ever dropped an egg off a building?”
“N-no?” I’d stammer.
“I got some equations for that. Hop on in.”
14 year old me could eek by Victorian ruffle shirt math. Cool math, practical math, would hang me over a toilet and steal my lunch money. Cool math would stuff me into lockers. Cool math would fuck my girlfriend behind my back and then have her tell me about it years later.
Today, I emerge after a three month long project of preparing my teenage self to fight that devil. That roguish Biff Tannen known as Cool Math. I’m proud to report that it went OK and that the experience was enlightening. Sorta.
The plan was I’d create a moon rise and moon set calculator in the same fashion the the NOAA had created for the sun. Easy.
While the NOAA’s calculations seemed incomprehensible at first soon they became simple. Each element familiar and iterative. But as I zeroed in on a viable solution for the moon, one thing was for certain. The sun is a lot, and I mean a lot easier to predict.
I am become hubris, destroyer of eight consecutive weekends.
Moon Fact! We weren’t good at guessing the moon’s location for as long as we’ve charted stars. Technological breakthroughs in computing helped us improve. By 1979, our best algorithms could still only give us +/- 4 minute range of error.
Lunar Linsight! By 2015, new equations and better microprocessors would close that gap. But forces beyond our control would have the final say, and there are still days where our best guess is at best within +/- 4 minutes. Of course, I’m talking topographic lunar coordinates.
Geocentric math for the moon is pretty tight, and we don’t need to get it so close we can smell the math’s deodorant.
This entire project was done in service of the Hygromanteia. Creating a spreadsheet that could predict the day of the moon (what fraction of 29 it is of a lunar day) with tremendous accuracy. One that could work no matter where on earth you live. One that would become self updating. For tracking the sun and moon, it is an ideal little pocket calculator you can whip out in an instance and look at.
What I find so funny about it, is that it’s done more to disturb my assumptions about the physical world. You’d think it would be the other way around. That the siren call of hard STEM would have sucked me into the K-hole of materialist derived truths. And maybe it could have if there were many hard truths there to be found.
The truth about material truth is that it’s excruciating to pin down. And the flippant way we often know things is only allowed because no one calls us out on absolute bullshit all the time. Because of this uncertainty, the case for magic is fundamentally the higher ground
Dynamical systems. Spiraling circles across a galactic and heliocentric plane. Spiraling across time. Swinging across a topographic horizon that is but a line to the observer. Tracing waves against a canopy of stars. Stars who arc scar light against a navy blue tint more imagined than perceived. Plotted with only triangles from moment to moment to moment. Or with an aperture set to wide open and the shutter speed clocked at 15 minutes.
All of which are ceaselessly interfering with one another. Adding Quantum Mechanics into the mix, we can be reasonably assured that observation of such light is the phenomenological cherry on top of this uncertainty sundae.
What we call math and science is fucking weird. The things we know for tap-dead-center-certain are jello when scrutinized. That was the thing I came away with. The moon is weird. And we have too many moments where we can’t know for sure where it is, only where it should be. The only thing we can be sure of is that we can’t say with conviction where it is right now. We do not know it as truth, as if it is some pristine pearl in at hand to be clutched onto. While we can vaguely wave our arm in a specific direction towards a horizon. Or a vector below our feet. We, do not, in actual fact know where the moon actually is, now. And that is the pearl that clutches us.
4th House Slum Lords
The discord server discussions around astrology, especially this ABWatt guy is intense. He knows his stuff. But the other day, there was some sort of discussion about how a Saturn transit of your fourth house is an omen. An omen portending hearth, home, family, and settling in roots.
Curious, I cracked open my natal chart to see about when that fourth house transit was coming along. With it moving into Aquarius at the end of the year and after some math in my head…
The due date of my adult life kicking off proper is… 3rd Quarter, 2043. Technically it was in 2014. Which is when I did settle into some sort of family life, but it fell apart. So, that’s cool. I guess. Ultimately though this is a 21 day weather forecast at this point. I am cute as hell, and more stable than most. The scales of probability tip toward love finding me, not the other way around.
But still it’s a week of uncertainty that has been Huckleberry Finn’d into slapping a flat coat of absolutely balls-to-the-wall panicked about some god damned thing.
When it finally felt like twitter had gotten back on it’s meds, some sort of pandemic breaks out. Figures. But the division it began to sew in certain dark-forest parts of my internet experience was jarring. Because most of it was from apprehension and misunderstanding. Apprehension that claims that the treatment of this crisis is op shaped should have remedied. Instead, many perceived a dismissal. That the pandemic was “fake”. In a community where one of the most basic things you learn is that everything is in your head. The problem is not realizing the volume that can hold.
The treatment of the pandemic is very opish. 24 hour news cycles began to syncronize in both message and it’s delivery. This only happens on a sort of cue. When a third party has a hand in what happens next. The amorphous “they”. But the news corporations motives are always suspect. Their incentives for evoking panic in the general population couldn’t be more clear. And so, taking exaggerated numbers in one hand, and suppressing relevant data points in the other, the game was afoot. A coordinated narrative op was in play.
Finding a way of keeping the new populist uprising out of the news cycle is critical. Also, obfuscating the cause of the new recession period we’ve entered is a convenient fiction. It is an obvious op. A grift. A con. Is the virus real? Yes. Is the virus deadly? Yes, but only slightly more than other viruses?
And you know what, that’s a shame. We’re all way too worked up for some basic ass virus coming into our houses and fiddling with the thermostat.
My Op analysis is news centric, here’s another one that I think is better than just a vague jaundice eye I cast in their general direction any time they manage to piece my bubble of relative steeze (style and ease)
For a wholesome apocalypse, a holistic apocalypse, truth needs to crystallize. That it’s happening in the midst of a economic downturn in the middle of a primary election season. One with a underdog candidate who has pledged to fight for the material well being of Americans at large, it’s has the ring of an optimistic destiny.
It is the amoral tinge of our consensus reality that our one collective hope for a reaffirmation of essential human dignity depends upon monstrous horror visited upon everyone. Or that at least my imagination sparks in that direction, which is… not flattering.
But honest to God, for U.S. citizens our only prayer is that this pandemic is an unmitigated humanitarian disaster. One laid squarely at the feet of political apparatuses past their prime. One that makes straight a crooked path. A road paved in the commodification of every moment of a human lifespan.
Hoping for this is obscene, though. It is a prayer we can never utter to any god except maybe an especially churlish part of the Loa pantheons if we have access to them. There is a bone shattering sob of poverty echoing against a hollow where marrow once was. A great abyss where spirits, human and more than human might abide but will never. That is a place for monsters.
We can face the tide. We can surf the tide. We cannot tell the tide whom to drown. And we, literate in magic, who weave the impossible from the flashes of white in our too young to be gray scalps know at least one thing for sure. If one of us drown, all us drown.
“You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy: “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably.” Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom and warning. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.”TNG -The Drumhead
Striving toward mutual flourishing means we can imagine how we come through this better than we came into. We will face our tides together. Surf them when we can. We will notice when we’re being spurred into action. Because we must.
Valid Data Points for your Data Coffers
And then, we of course have fairy lights to guide us as we grapple with our inevitable moments. These moments are precious, fleeting, and entirely ours. Find the muse in their poetry. Then, dance.