Life is Beautiful
Dear Friend and Reader:
When Silent Spring was published in 1962
, its impact and influence sprung from its beauty. The book, after causing a huge controversy, ultimately turned world opinion on the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT. Its chemical formula is C14
, and as a double benzene ring molecule, it is similar to dioxin and PCBs
Rachel Carson in 1962, the year that Silent Spring was published as a book. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Upon publication of her book Carson was attacked, ridiculed, and chided for being anti-progress and anti-science. In fact, her findings all checked out, and led to much more troubling discoveries.
This substance, made by Monsanto, Velsicol, Michigan Chemical and others, was sprayed indiscriminately from the sky, in Carson's words. It was broadcast over forests and lakes. It was laced into wallpaper in children's rooms. Neighborhoods and city streets were fogged with the stuff, as children ran behind the trucks to pick up the sweet smell.
The culprits they were after were mostly mosquitoes and lice. Its discoverer won the 1948 Nobel Prize in Medicine, as a "contact poison against several arthropods," meaning insects.
Carson was both a scientist and a naturalist. She lived by a forest, where songbirds burst into life each year — and which one spring went silent. She set out to figure out how this happened. It was related to DDT spraying, though in a way that nobody understood, and that she figured out and explained. The DDT did not actually kill the songbirds.
Rather, once applied from the sky, it settled on the leaves of trees. The trees would shed their leaves each autumn, and fall to the forest floor. The leaves would decompose and be eaten by worms. In the spring, birds would return and eat the worms, which would poison the birds. Later work revealed that this disruption was reproductive. The birds would then lay eggs, which could not hatch because the shells were too thin. Therefore, the baby birds would never hatch, and the forest would be invaded by an eerie, deathly silence where before there was the beauty and wonder of thousands of singing birds — a sound many would agree is the joy of life.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Explaining the Ecosystem
Carson, in figuring out how DDT disrupted the life cycle of birds, explained the ecosystem to the public for the first time. The interrelationships were barely noticed, not widely understood, and not understood at all on a popular level. She explained to people that all life is related. You cannot just kill bugs with a chemical and not create a disruption somewhere down the line — many places, really, including within our bodies.
Yet the impact and influence of her book came from her poetic descriptions of what nature is, and what was happening. That it happened in the form of an obituary is sad, though through her descriptions of dying nature, she gave us a way to understand how chemistry interacts with biology. When PCBs were discovered a few years later, they had the same effect, of thinning the shells of eggs, among many other devastating problems.
By the 1990s, we had a term for what was happening — endocrine disruption. This is why PCBs, DDT, dioxin, phthalate plasticizers such as DEHP and others, are so toxic. They interfere with hormones and thus the entire life cycle, and cause many forms of cancer — particularly of the reproductive organs.
Yet it is difficult to reach people with a message on that level. When you describe in elegant language, how little birds cannot form properly, and die before they hatch, people listen. Well, sort of. After publication of Silent Spring
, and after the author was viciously attacked as a hysterical woman, DDT was mostly banned. PCBs were mostly banned.
But the chemical industry marched on with one more horrid creation after the next — broadcast from the sky, added to food, sprayed in our gardens and yards and parks, and sprayed on the sides of roads. After a few defeats, Monsanto roared back with Roundup, which now soaks the entire ecosystem.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
The Biome, the Microbiome and the Virome
This week, I encountered a video presentation that moved me as much as Silent Spring
did, and which explained something to me about which I had no idea. The past three months of my life have been a crash course in virology, epidemiology and immunology.
This week, I heard a presentation by a medical doctor named Zach Bush
on a program called The HighWire
Dr. Zach Bush, internist and endocrinologist.
There are so many videos and so little time. I am sent about three a day. Most of them are boring, badly done and not terribly informative. Others you have to sort through a lot of noise, and some take 100 hours of research to verify.
I clicked on this one reluctantly, though I am very happy that I did; it has changed my way of looking at the world, of understanding life, and of my view on the seeming "global pandemic" we are going through.
Bush is a young man of tremendous accomplishment, who first (with no medical experience whatsoever) ended up having to preside over neonatal care in a clinic in the Philippines. That got him to change his academic focus from robotics to medicine. He is certified as a doctor of internal medicine, as an endocrinologist, and as a hospice doctor. Mostly he is a philosopher of the natural world, which is why his ideas have touched me so deeply.
This presentation is about the life of viruses, and explains the "novel coronavirus" that opens up an understanding of the biome
(the total ecosystem we see). He explains the microbiome
(the one we cannot see, and which lives in our bodies). And explains the virome
, the universe of viruses and retroviruses, and how they not only interact with all of life, but the ways in which life is made of them, and how evolution is driven by them. Viruses are the fundamental units of life information, and some would say the most intelligent and enduring form of life.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
From Figure to Ground
Along the way, Dr. Bush presents a perspective on the "novel coronavirus" that offers what I think is the single most necessary shift in our understanding: that from figure to ground. I have tried to explain this many ways through my coverage of the supposed pandemic. In my earliest presentation in early February
, I said this is going to be about the immune system and the state of the total environment. Zach explains this in a level of detail about which I had no concept existed.
In nearly all presentations we see, whether in newspapers, TV, YouTube videos and elsewhere, discussion of the virus is an obsessive discussion of the figure
. There is this thing
that's supposedly killing people, and presumably we have to kill it first. It is the enemy. It has destroyed the economy and forced us into hiding. The virus is allegedly the source of our fear, and that fear is justified, because this thing is death incarnate.
Zach describes how the ground of being on the physical plane is made of viruses. This is the ground we stand on: it's our DNA. He also describes the ground that has been severely disrupted by the loss of biodiversity, and explains how human life is currently the cataclysmic event in the world, exclusively driving the sixth extinction we are living through.
I have watched or listened four times, and it just gets better. While I am not presenting Zach Bush as the person who "knows it all" about the global pandemic, after months of research, I feel confident offering him to you as the most encompassing, humane, philosophical and scientifically relevant view. His view also fits into several other of the more relevant thinkers I have come across, and I have offered a description of how they interweave in this article
I am not planning to re-explain everything Zach talks about in this interview, which lasts a little over an hour. We have made a transcript of the conversation
(which will probably still need some proofreading). You can watch the video and I will play the audio in full on Saturday night's Planet Waves FM, and offer additional thoughts.
Please take the time to listen in an undistracted way. You don't need to watch, though he's nice to look at. I learned the most listening without the visuals. I have not yet read the transcript, though I reckon that will be a whole other level of information.
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
Crimes Against Humanity
After listening four times, one particular thought stands out from among many notable ones in this presentation. It is something that echoes my own observations of how people are being treated in hospitals. It is harrowing that people are being left alone to die, cut off from their friends and family. It is my observation after observing this situation that many of the people who are dying in ICUs would have lived had there been proper care.
Dr. Bush explained that we are overreacting inappropriately, and not responding appropriately, to this situation. He describes how intubation is causing lung injury that is killing 88% of patients. He explains that social distancing to avoid contact with aerosolized (dry) particles is pointless because not only can they travel more than six feet, they can ride the jet stream across the ocean in a matter of days. No scientist understands how they survive, but they have been doing this long before humans arrived -- many tens of millions of years before.
Toward the end of the conversation, Dr. Bush says:
"If there's crimes against humanity being exercised right now, I don't believe that it's in a military lab. I believe that it's in those ICUs of dying patients alone. In what time in history have we decided that we need to en masse let our — let people die alone? Marines are taught to never leave a soldier on the battlefield. Marines will literally charge into machine gun fire, into rocket fire, to go grab that injured soldier so that they don't die alone in enemy hands.
"What level of fear have we induced in mankind that we are letting our revered elderly, and our young people, who are dying from these conditions, die alone? It is worse than rocket fire. It is worse than this. And we've generated that level of fear around a virus that looks to have a mortality similar to flu. What are we doing with this tyranny of fear? We are tearing apart the very fabric of what it means to be human.
"There's an innate drive in us to stay connected, to stay in one another's presence. To have fellowship with one another. It's written into our constitution that you will not block public gatherings, you will not block the ability for us to get together and practice our spiritual faith, to practice our spiritual experience. And if anything is a hallowed ground of spiritual environment, it is the birthplace of a child, and the birthplace of an elder person about to transition to the other side."
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
What We Need to Understand
I do want to close with one thought. Industrialized humanity assaults its one and only home, our planet, over and over again, and expects everything to be fine.
First with murdering nearly every whale to burn their fat as oil, then with coal, and petroleum, we have depleted one of the most magnificent life forms and flooded the atmosphere with sulfur and carbon.
Then came all the chemicals that stemmed from the petroleum industry: benzene and PCBs and dioxins and dibenzofurans, which have soaked the planet with their indestructible molecules from pole to pole. Then all the insecticides and herbicides, dumped everywhere from Oregon to Vietnam to China and everywhere else, getting into the cells of every living creature.
As we learned about the problems these things caused, most people, and all of industry and government, marched on, as if nothing would happen. Then came electricity and worldwide contamination of the planet with electromagnetic fields. Since we could not see any of it, it did not matter.
Then there was war after war and the atomic bomb and hundreds of above-ground bursts and many more underground detonations. Jacques Cousteau, the inventor of SCUBA, in the 1960s informed us that the oceans were nearly dead. We acted like none of that mattered.
Along the way, the Earth has been polluted with countless drugs, antibiotics, agricultural chemicals and hormone poisons, and we have acted like none of this would have any effect whatsoever. We just pile it on, decade upon decade. All of this has resulted in a buffet of poison food, requiring people to be on evermore toxic drugs. Half of American children suffer from chronic disease, up from 1 or 2 percent 50 years ago.
Then came global warming, accelerated by the decimation of forests and rainforests around the planet, which most people act like is no big deal, or does not exist.
All of this is catching up with us now, and it's catching up fast. What Zach proposes is that the "novel coronavirus" is a kind of superintelligence that is bringing us back onto a course of balance and biodiversity, because that is what life wants and that is what helps us heal, grow and thrive.
To this, Zach Bush brings a poet's sensibilities and for that I am deeply grateful. In that spirit, I share his ideas with you
Planet Waves (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Sunday and Thursday evening in Kingston, New York, Planet Waves, Inc. Core Community membership: $197/year. Editor & Publisher: Eric F. Coppolino. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Associate Editor: Amy Elliott. Assistant Editor: Joshua Halinen. News Editor: Spencer Stevens. Client Services: Victoria Emory. Illustrator: Lanvi Nguyen. Finance: Andrew Slater. Archivist: Morgan Francis. Technical Assistants: Cate Ryzhenko, Emily Thing. Proofreading: Jessica Keet. Media Consultant: Andrew McLuhan. Music Director: Daniel Sternstein. Bass and Drums: Daniel Grimsland. Additional Music: Zeljko. Additional Research, Writing and Opinions: Samuel Dean, Yuko Katori, Amanda Painter, Cindy Tice Ragusa and Carol van Strum.
Special Feature: Is It, or Isn't It?
Photo by Lanvi Nguyen.
In this special feature
, I review the primary non-mainstream theories of what is happening. After reviewing voluminous testimony from scientists, doctors and people we assess to be credible, there are essentially six major theories of the origins of the global pandemic that I can account for. Please note that this is an evolving document. Lest anyone confuse these with "conspiracy theories," please read this article on the topic
. All of these are grounded scientific theories, all of them offered by MDs, Ph.D.s and qualified journalists.
Daily Astrology & Adventure with the daily birthday report
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Despite all the chaos in the world, we released your readings last week. This is a series of 12 sign readings and an orientation talk, on the level of the best astrological counseling. They are in-depth, vibrant, exciting and deeply personal astrology experiences. Most of all, my work is motivational, uplifting, positive and USEFUL.
You can call these astrology readings, or you can call them a comprehensive spring training program in personal development. I offer depth, compassion and grounded thinking, and present the keys to a holistic concept of healing and wellness.
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Once you experience one, you will want to keep going. They will stand up to many rewatchings, and make for fun binge-watching that will leave you feeling better about yourself and your circumstances. I am pointing the way out of these woods we are in.
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Monthly Horoscopes and Publishing Schedule Notes
Your extended monthly horoscope for May
was published on Saturday, April 25. We published your extended monthly horoscope for April
on Saturday, March 28. Please note: we normally publish the extended monthly horoscope after the Sun has entered a new sign.
Monday Morning Horoscope #228 for May 11, 2020 | By Eric Francis Coppolino
(March 20-April 19) — One of my boldest, most outgoing girlfriends ever, a French woman named Sabine, once said to me, in a fit of frustration and angst: Someday I will succeed, and speak
. Ask yourself what you have not said. Take these next six weeks of Venus retrograde in Gemini and make an inventory. Keep your own counsel for a while, and reflect in a deep and sincere way. Write it all down: what you have not told lovers, parents, friends, children, or colleagues. Once you get a sense of what the scope of the material is, ask yourself about your need, or motive, for not speaking up. Do you feel like something is stopping you? Are you blocking yourself? Do you gain something, or lose something, as a result? I am not suggesting you open up now, but rather use the Venus retrograde phase, approximately now until the end of June, as a time of reflection. Be aware that silence has consequences. You may already be aware of that. Speaking your truth also has consequences, and is the first step in reclaiming your power. Get your full Aries reading by Eric here.
The Journey of You and Chiron | A New Reading by Eric Francis
Anyone who has encountered it is curious about Chiron. Planet Waves provides one of the few dependable online sources of information on this unusual planet. For the 10th anniversary Astrology Studio reading, I will be covering Chiron in Aries — a momentous event for all those born under this sign, and of high interest to everyone else. Get instant access to this reading here
(April 19-May 20) — You feel two ways about many things. There's often a dialog going in your mind, which at times makes you want to go out for ice cream and leave yourself behind. The question you might ask is, are you really involved in a true dialog in there? Or is it something else? A dialog would lead someplace useful, so you might use that as a metric. The central matter of Venus retrograde involves deciding how you feel about some of the most important personal matters. This may seem like it will take a lot of sorting out, though the chances are you already know how you feel, and the endless ongoing deliberation is what derails you from getting with your true values. There is also the matter of commitment. Vesta, directly involved with the Venus retrograde, translates commitment to devotion. The difference is that one is usually an external assertion and the other is an internal state of being. What you're devoted to is usually revealed in who and what you keep coming back to. Get your full Taurus reading by Eric here.
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for just $44. This reading focuses on a professional breakthrough toward the end of the year, and preparing you for this development. Venus retrograde in the spring is preparation. Mars retrograde in the autumn is preparation.
Ultimately this is a spiritual development, yet in reality we are talking about aligning your purpose with action, with a calling, and with an opportunity. Elements of the reading go out to a series of power steps in 2021. Read more.
(May 20-June 21) — Venus stations retrograde in your sign this week. This journey, which spans between May 13 and June 25, has the potential to be a turning point event in your inner life. You are meant to discover something in your relationship to yourself. While this will not happen overnight, there will be moments of discovery and revelation. Your role is to notice them and bring them forward into your conscious life. Your new knowledge becomes the basis for new decisions — that's what it's for. It's up to you to make your personal truth into something that has substance and also remains open to fresh information — but mostly, to use what you know. Twice before in recent times, you've been at a similar turning point: this time of year in 2004, and then in 2012. Consider both of those in terms of their "before and after" value. This time, though, you're ready for something you may not have been ready for in the past. There is something you must give up, to make room for something you must gain. Get your full Gemini reading by Eric here.
Your 2020-21 Gemini Astrology Studio, The Sacred Space of Self
, is now available for pre-order at just $33. The reading covers Venus retrograde in your sign, Vesta in your sign, Saturn in Aquarius, and the momentous astrology at the end of the year. Get the best price by pre-ordering today. Thank you for your business and your trust.
(June 21-July 22) — In astrology there is a concept known as the 12th house. It's the zone in one's awareness where it's difficult to acknowledge and admit what is there, because it's not so easy to perceive. It's like there is a place in the mind that plays hide and seek with you, or you with it. Now, though, you have an advantage, as there is some unusual presence: the retrograde of Venus, in a conjunction with Vesta. These are powerful allies in your quest for inner truth, particularly in some of the most intimate and sensitive aspects of your life. Just one thing is asked of you: come back to the work every day, and in a sense, keep at it all the time. You bring the quality of devotion: of attention to your own thoughts and feelings. These might not be easy to discern at first. You are clearing an inner fog, which means that at the moment your sight distance is limited. But at least you know that, and you can develop other sensitivities. For example, sound travels better under these conditions, so for now you might depend on your hearing, and simply listen to yourself. Get your full Cancer reading by Eric here.
(July 22-Aug. 23) — One of the most overwhelming aspects of life in our time is the obsession over image. Life was not always a nonstop public relations campaign. Over the next six weeks of Venus retrograde, it will help if you take time out of public view. With much social life happening in social media, this may not be easy for you. Yet as with certain scientific or medical procedures, there is something you can learn only under sterile conditions, which in this instance means in the sanctity of your own mind and feelings. What you're looking for is an understanding of how you shape and mold yourself to be presentable and acceptable to your "constituency," which is a distraction from your inner work and inner awareness. Give yourself the time and space to reconnect with the person within you who is not subject to all of this modification and image grooming. Remember what your life was like before every word you said or wrote was documented and scrutinized. Get your full Leo reading by Eric here.
(Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Your most important mission may not be the most lucrative. In our money-based society, that's too often how we think of it, frequently filtering out important work because it does not meet the criteria in dollars and cents. I suggest you set that aside for now, and notice what you are devoted to as a matter of an organic calling, that draws you in year after year. True devotion is something that works through you. It's like flowing water following the lay of the land. Yet a fire metaphor is more appropriate: the flame you keep returning to tend. It may be something you consider important, or something you might not think is so relevant. It's what you keep coming back to. Do more of that, and deepen your relationship to it. Do not place upon this work the burden of being profitable. Be willing to support it any way that you can. As you do this, a particular inner conflict will resolve, and you will gradually find your way to a clear space. Get your full Virgo reading by Eric here.
(Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — In our world, way too much emphasis is placed on belief. We would do well to eliminate the concept entirely, and instead, replace it with something useful, like the quest for knowledge and understanding. To believe something is what we do when we don't know, don't understand, and are not on a conscious quest for answers. Belief goes right to the supposed destination without actually getting there, but it has an even more serious problem. Most belief is based on some external authority, in the style of "That person said that what that other person said is (or is not) true, so therefore I believe it (or I don't)." Your faith is not about all those other people. This is particularly true in matters that pertain to you, and your relationship to existence. We might say your relationship to yourself, but that can get messy in terms of all the inner voices involved. Existence is your relationship to what is vastly bigger than you are. Here, belief is a shabby substitute for your true quest. Get your full Libra reading by Eric here.
(Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — You are entering an unusual phase of your relationships, though you may have picked up some indications of what is developing. It may seem like a relationship partner is changing, perhaps becoming less available. Maybe there has been a shift in the dynamics of your sexual attraction, which you cannot quite identify or name. You may feel like you're not getting something that you dearly need, or as if someone previously close to you is not available. I would propose that you frame the situation this way: what can you offer someone to facilitate their growth, in some way that might not benefit you? In fact you may see it as working against your interests or emotional needs, which it's now your opportunity to set aside in service of their needs, desires, or current situation. That may include holding space for their ambiguity, including about your relationship. Supporting that will mean suspending your expectations and allowing someone you love the space to seek their own self-understanding. Get your full Scorpio reading by Eric here.
(Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Our society in its fictional presentations emphasizes the romantic elements of relationships, which include all kinds of passion and glory, or meaningful tragedy. There is a kind of grandiose quality to stories where people's love becomes the center of the known universe. Then what we mostly get is everyday ordinary life. It is noteworthy when people share mutual respect. It's significant when they offer themselves the space to truly live their lives as individuals as well as members of a partnership. You need enough distance in a situation where you can feel directly that you have a relationship with yourself, the people you engage with have relationships with themselves, and then there may be a few places where the two meet. There may not be fireworks or moonlit balconies at those juncture points. But there would be honesty and that will facilitate a sincere conversation, which may begin with agreement on one seemingly simple idea. Get your full Sagittarius reading by Eric here.
(Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — You have some leftover work to do from the past. This is the completion phase of a much longer project: what could be called closure. You are soon to embark on a new and unfamiliar phase of your personal journey, and I would propose it would be best not to bring along any unresolved material that you can actually address. You may know what I'm talking about. If you don't, consider what matters keep coming up again and again for you, even if you thought you left them behind somewhere in the past. I suggest you turn around and face directly whatever this might be. Address any feeling that you will never get over it, or that the scenario is hopeless. Pay particular attention to where you feel guilted or shamed. That, in particular, will orient you on the nature of what you're working with. Take a new look at this. Notice any assumptions you're making about the "quality of your character" or whether you're good enough to be approved of by someone. That is your material, not theirs. Get your full Capricorn reading by Eric here.
(Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — One potential downfall of Aquarius is its serious cast. Your sign can have a heavy or perhaps rigid intellectual quality that has a way of holding you back. What this week's beginning of Venus retrograde emphasizes is your sense of play. I suggest you retrieve the little kid in you and make friends with him or her, or maybe it's twins. Do something you love just because you love it. Productivity is irrelevant; this is about pleasant activity that offers you the space to indulge your curiosity. That means eager to know and desirous of seeing for yourself. As you do this, you may notice the ways you held back this craving in the past. Did anyone tell you that what you truly cared about was in some way irrelevant? Did you pick up on someone's signal and tell yourself? Explore your way through that feeling and get to the part where you give yourself permission to have fun, for its own sake. Get your full Aquarius reading by Eric here.
(Feb. 19-March 20) — Your home is your most precious resource, and in particular, your kitchen. Let's start there: invest time and resources into your food preparation area. Do some deep cleaning. Attend to the stove area first. Then dig out the fridge as an offering to the goddess, wash and recycle, and replenish with your favorite foods. Then go through your home room by room, space by space, and organize each around a central principle. This is the greatest gift that Venus retrograde in Gemini has to offer you. You probably like things bright and fresh during the day and the lighting subtle and understated at night. Make all that possible. Your home is what feeds you. It's where you belong, and it's the one place in the world where you must feel both safe and confident enough to be yourself. If you live with others, sign them up for this program. Your leadership here will come naturally, and people will feel good about the results. Get your full Pisces reading by Eric here.
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