With love from Borasisi: Kurt Vonnegut’s New Moon

Dear Friend and Reader:

Good Wednesday morning. Today’s edition of Planet Waves audio takes us into one of the mythical worlds of Kurt Vonnegut — the island of San Lorenzo, where Bokononism is the religion of choice. From that religion we have the Sun god Borasisi, after which a little planet got named in the early 2000s — and Friday’s New Moon is conjunct this critter. We’ve talked about it a bit before; today is Borasisi’s full debut.

One of the themes of our Age of Ethics is knowing what we believe. Usually, this thing we call belief operates just a shade below what we jokingly think of as ‘full awareness’. Belief has a way of lurking in the denial zone, where we can pretend we don’t need to take responsibility for it. Borasisi brings the issue to the surface in a kind of mythic world where Sagittarius and Pisces intersect and really push us to pay attention to this awesome power of belief that we tend to use so casually.

As you listen, remember that Vonnegut’s novel is an allegory not just for science but also for its ultimate indiscretion: the atomic bomb. Dioxin, PCBs, plasticizers and genetically modified organisms definitely count — but the real Ice Nine is the bomb.

But wait — there is another.

PS, I have a factcheck: in the audio I say how Vonnegut was a PR guy and spokesman for GE — facts now in hand say he worked in PR as a kind of researcher/storyteller about science, which cast GE in a positive light. More on that next week.

The old player is in its usual location. The new player is the nifty gray icon below. Enjoy.

Yours & truly,

Eric Francis

17 thoughts on “With love from Borasisi: Kurt Vonnegut’s New Moon”

  1. Listened to this podcast yesterday afternoon just before going to a screening of “I Am” later with a post talk by the film’s director, Tom Shadyac. I was amazed at the synchronicity between what Eric has to say about scientific untruths and the larger truths, love vs fear and SO MUCH MORE.

    Shadyac was a very successful director of comedic films, took a serious fall in a cycling accident and ended up with broken bones and a concussion that completely changed his worldview. He sold his excess, hit the road and interviewed notables (Desmond Tutu, Coleman Barks, Dean Radin, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, his own father +++) He asked the questions “What is Wrong with the World” and “How Can We Change It?” The film has been viewed by sellout crowds in Seattle, Portland and here in San Rafael (Marin County, CA). Students who saw it at a Colorado high school experienced significantly reduced bullyism in weeks after the screening.

    LA premiere is next week, then NY soon thereafter. Here is Jupiter in Aires in action. Check it out. http://iamthedoc.com/

  2. whew! this being a commentator thing is quite the….. experience..for. a . hermit.

    hey Graffitti & everyone else who eats,

    I think you mistook my passion FOR the environment, for the planet, (and esp. for the animals!) by my calling out of the usage of the word “organic”.

    I know you wouldn’t want me to apologize for my passion, but I can say I am sorry if I confused you. I am not a writer or journalist by trade, this is one of the issues that made me a little nervous before embarking on PW pg2 with all of the very bright, very coherent, and deadly genius people on here.

    I guess I was trying to disseminate what I know to perhaps those that don’t, so at least they can be better informed to make the decisions that they want to make.
    simply put, Organic has become the old Natural.

    and what I mean by that is that the term has lost its credibility as being “fully & completely a good thing”. you see, we trust that by being organic, it is Better, and I am saying, “not necessarily so”.

    And for 6.9 billion reasons it breaks my heart.

    What?? you say. Are you saying -ARE YOU SAYING being organic isn’t better than being non-organic??
    that is what I am saying.
    and, to ratchet it up a notch, I’ll say something even more inflammatory:

    sometimes being Non-organic is even BETTER than being organic.

    WTF? right? it’s because there is a spectrum……..

    You see, generally we ALL think in black & white. Everything’s binary-right? Good/Bad, Left/Right……………..

    Let’s say when we think of Non-organic we think of shitloads of pesticides, feeding cows CANDY (yes, happens!), animals living in filth, you know, the bad of the “Bad”. And then we think of Organic, fresh & clean, non-toxic, environmentally yummy, herbivorous animals on lush pasture, etc., the “good of the Good”…

    OK. THIS IS HOW I THOUGHT. Pollyanna herself believed this to the core.
    but it’s simply not true.

    where the two meet, under the umbrella of the term “organic” there are shades of grey, so to speak. there ARE the squeaky clean organics, and there are also some places that juuuustt barely make the grade, and they are pretty gross. I’ve seen them. Likewise, I’ve seen beautiful “non-organic” farms that are doing A HELL of a better job than some of the “organics”. They may not be able to get organic feed in their area, but they have a beautiful, otherwise sustainable, animal & plant happy biodynamic paradise..

    the problem is that while we, the Good, Informed, Well-read people are thinking the umbrella is only standing over the places with INTEGRITY, it is in fact also over the not-so-wonderful places..and getting bigger every day.

    – if you want to confuse matters even more, some of the best farms don’t even want to play the silly game of Organic Certification, and they don’t, it’s expensive. They are usually the places that are sustainably small, love what they do, have faith in their product, and would love to talk to you about how they manage their farm.

    and so,
    I hope you will see we are on the same side. I know it may seem I am ”bashing organic”, but really what I am doing is bashing the people who have abused that term into oblivion with their cutting-corners and crawling through loopholes…no integrity whatsoever, just into “organic” for the profit margin. once again, as with my point in research studies, not all are created equal. even if we’d like them to be.

    I’m a simple hermit. I will be the first to tell you I am an expert on nothing. Although I don’t really know what to call myself anymore after the complete clusterf*k explosion (or would that be implosion) of my veterinary career, I would say I “do” farming now. I’ve sold at farmer’s markets. I grew up on a farm.

    I agree fully with you about supporting small farmers —and this is key:
    actually this may be the salient point of this entire discussion:
    I encourage you to support the small farmers WHO HAVE THE SAME VALUES YOU ARE LOOKING FOR…

    there.
    because folks, as I have said, this topic is deep. very verrrry deep. and here we have only been talking about the defunct term organic.
    what about humane? what about biodynamic? what about carbon-neutral? what about bringing back endangered heritage breeds and seeds? …..etc. etc. e.t.c.

    this involves active participation. this involves talking with your local farmers-you don’t EVEN KNOW the plethora of choices you have…. remember the spectrum I mentioned??? ( most great farmers would LOVE to tell you, if you have a concern, ASK! )

    and finally it involves MAKING those choices..what do you care about? do you even know?????

    it is mind-boggling what Power we have when we make certain choices about the things we EAT. It is INCONCEIVABLE to me that people do not know this, or use it!! We ALL could bring down Monsanto, massive chemical companies, Oil and Gas? and a whole host of other Nasties…if we only knew. if we only could see.
    see how much of these things are influenced by our FOOD CHOICES.

    You are What You Eat……..

    GG, I conclude using your own words, because I believe them fully:

    “It’s true that you have to stay informed and make a considerable effort to buy from the legitimate suppliers when it comes to organic, but I think that effort is well worth it. ”

    Amen.

    peace. OUT.

    p.s. dear biren,
    I might have a blog but it is in a different realm
    than the one I show up for here…
    BTW, have you ever taken a swim into a hermit’s mind?
    there is no dipping, only a complete submergence.
    swimming lessons have no bearing, so I hope
    you can breath underwater,
    there is nowhere for a Crab to hide,
    but
    maybe a Pisces could do OK….

    maybe in time, maybe in time, my day is young here my friend, my day is young.

  3. hi Stellium in Sag… pollyanna…

    i resonate with what you share… and am looking for another dip into the pool of your mind…
    πŸ™‚

    any website/blog i can go and w(h)et my thirst-appetite?

  4. Stellium, I think we ought to have lots of good discussions about how to walk more gently on the earth.

    Your comments about organic are worth noting. It’s true that there are many fraudulent operations that exploit the notion of organic. One publicized one is the Horizon milk company, which also makes and sells so-called organic cheese and yogurt, along with millk.

    Horizon has been exposed as an orgnaic fraud, and folks who try to keep up on the food front may have had a chance to read about it.

    That said, however, there are a number of good, small organic farmers that sell their produce at my farmers market in NYC, and from what I’ve read, even big operations like Wal-mart and Target get some of their organic produce from simliar small suppliers.

    I don’t know how often this occurs; I personally don’t shop at either store, so maybe it only occurs in a few select Walmarts and Targets and not throughout those chains.

    But organic is important, not just because it’s healthier for the people who eat it, but because we have got to start reducing our carbon emissions, and factory farming is responsible for a big chunk of the CO2 that goes into our atmostphere and heats up our planet. Organic farmiing methods (the real ones, not the fake ones) lead to much smaller emissions and are kinder to natural water systems and soil.

    I hope you’re not rejecting organic entirely. It’s true that you have to stay informed and make a considerable effort to buy from the legitimate suppliers when it comes to organic, but I think that effort is well worth it.

    cheers, GG

  5. thank you everyone for your kind words…

    and a poetry reading this morning?….(ahhhh..)

    are you my new friends?

    peace.

    p. s.
    contemplate kittens.
    daydream of possibilities.

  6. ..Stellium, you’d better not stop.. your words are blessings.

    We’re all here to deal with each other.

    I feel you man, and I’m barely containing my pissed-off-ness. Bareley.

    ..I’m trying not to explode on reality.. Or at least find the best way. πŸ˜‰

    Jere

  7. Stellium in Sag,

    Your words are more than welcome; they inform and refresh our faith in humanity. Would “contemplate” be anything like “daydreaming” of kittens? Either way, very entertaining!
    be

  8. rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt…hold it!!

    hold it right there!…

    GG, I am respectfully going to disagree with you, where to start, where to start…

    OK.
    I love your optimism. my nickname is Pollyanna.. I know what you are saying, and I do think, actually I know, there are some decent companies out there that are trying, some even doing, as good a job as they can about being conscionable.

    HOWEVER
    it is time to get really wary when Bigass places like Walmart and Target are getting in on the organic game. and make no mistake folks, it is a game. a f*&n profitable one.

    now to burst some bubbles: the word “organic” doesn’t even really mean much in itself anymore in the farming sphere. sadly, like many other juicy, fashionable, hot-button words, it has been corrupted. I’m not saying that it means “nothing”, I’m saying that it probably doesn’t mean what you think it means..

    here’s why:
    this almost requires a little history of farming lesson but for the sake of trying to be succinct on a blog where I feel nervous, here goes:

    for a plethora of reasons, it costs the little guy, the small farmer, more money to farm than corporate farms. OK- times that by a factor of at least 20 when you want to do it “right”, in a sustainable, way. particularly when that means you have to feed your chickens “organic” feed, which means that the grains had to be grown organically, only a few places make what you need, yadayada yada… put it simply, it increases the cost of your business to do this.
    for a veggie example think: oh, the fish meal or calcium or whathaveyou I want to amend my soil with …all has to be from organic sources…so…think of all the products you use or need to use , well they all have to be certified…and they too cost more.
    you get the idea. it takes more work to do things right…..
    so, that means you must sell your products at a higher price point to just break even!!

    so here you are. a tomato from a corporate farm sitting in your grocery for let’s say twenty cents vs. an heirloom tomato grown organically at the farmer’s market for a buck twenty-five.

    hmmmm….how long do you think it’s going to take for someone to notice the little guy can get …how much more for being “organic”….? Holy f*&#, that is a mighty fine-looking profit margin…..how can WE get into the game?????

    and of course they did. esp. with negative PR about the environmental effects, “organic” is better, consumers started voting with their dollar for what they wanted.

    and so, how do you think that you can NOW get organic (generally bags of lettuce, which consequently are being grown virtually next to non-organic lettuce) in places like Walmart?? it is being sold by the same companies that sold you non-organic….hmmmmmmm..

    well, you start using your leverage and hugeness and connections and such to start
    changing the regulations for what can be called “organic”!!!simple. and the consumer will never know ha ha ha ….

    that is why more and more terms & certifications keep popping into the game. sadly, it is simply not enough to just be called “organic” anymore. you need to be sustainable, Demeter certified, Animal ethics certified, renewable, Non-confinement, have a damn wind turbine, ANYTHING that can distinguish yourself from corporate farming.

    it is not enough to be grass-fed, you need to be grass-finished as well. why? well big farms were “grass-feeding” their young babies with some hay and such, and then finishing them on grain, in a feedlot, and are still allowed to call that “grass-fed” because well, at one tiny point in their life they were fed grass.

    deep sigh…(((((( ))))))

    I know I need to wrap this up. this topic that is very deep, very very deep.
    I need to tell you that I know many people whose job it is is to go out and certify “organic” farms. except it’s not that simple either. each state, country, etc. has their own system, etc. So each of the people I know have different types of places they can go certify, and, are qualified to certify. Oregon Tilth, Demeter, EU, USA Oganic, Biodynamic, Organic Biologique, California Certified, International Organic Accreditation…it goes on.

    and I will tell you , right now, right this very moment, do not doubt that corporate interests are not pushing for regulations, changes, little cracks in wording and such, so they can get EVEN MORE into the game….and it’s not so that they can get in and play fairly. it’s about making changes diluting and broadening the scope to the detriment of the original idea.

    in the beginning of Feb. there was a big brouhaha about our Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack along with the USDA deregulating Roundup Ready alfalfa. The Organic Consumers Assoc. attacked Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farms and Wholefoods Market noting that all three of them are Monsanto supporters…..
    anyway, caused a big storm, and you can go onto all their webs and see their response to this but it made me pull back and say “whoa”…. I can tell you why the dairy industry would be so involved in this….but

    it’s a whole other discussion.
    for now, I’ll leave you with some more info about myself, in case you’re wondering who the hell I am, and where I came from.

    One of the things I do is practice sustainable, biodynamic farming.
    In 2009 I took the whole year “off” and went and did something I was always curious about knowing about, and that is working on a dairy farm. I worked on a small diary, by today’s standards, in the wilds of Vermont. We were part of the Organic Valley Family of Farms and also part of the milk went to the local CoOp.. The owner was very progressive and the farm had other income streams from other types of farming. Yes, we had a wind turbine. I worked for basically free. I did this because I wanted to know. I arrived before Spring thaw, babies being born, and ended at the end of the cycle, after the cows were dried off (most dairies don’t do that they artificially give her hormones etc, to keep producing until basically, she cannot anymore, and then is put down-she is milked to death) into their winter routine.

    Down the road, and all over, were big conventional confinement dairies. We were friendly with these dairies as Vermont is a community/cooperative type of place. I learned very much. everything. the good, bad, ugly.
    I will tell you that it is a fascinating industry. it is fascinating what a close connection the dairy industry has with food sold at fast-food joints.

    really, it is all very complex, and this is an astrology blog….
    I have not written one single solitary astrological tie-in. for that, I apologize.

    at this point, it is probably better for you to connect the dots, as you are far more versed than I am.

    Eric, I agree with you fully on the importance of scale. Esp. with farming, it is VERY difficult, if not impossible, to do things humanely on a large scale. Plus, with large scale, you are generally talking homogeneous, and not a bio-integrative system..it’s not healthy…

    .As I come with veterinary background, I am biased to thinking about the animal-side of things in regards to farming but I do know about cropwork as well. after all, animals eat crops.

    holy crap, if this gets published, and even one person takes the time to read it, it will have made my month… I promise I won’t write novellas on here anymore!!

    now I will go contemplate kittens…..
    shuffle shuffle shuffle…….

    peace.
    and I’ll be quiet.

  9. Hey Eric,

    You are right to be skeptical. In fact I think the way to turn the corp sustainability movement into something valuable is to bring a lot of skepticism to the table.

    Off the top of my head I can point to some companies that were organized around the idea of corporate responsbility: Patagonia is one, they give a healthy amount of their profits to environmental causes, and they use recycled fabrics to make their clothes and try to use sustainable practices when they make the clothes.

    Tom’s Shoes is another one. So is Seventh Generation, which makes laundry detergent and dish soap with no bad chemicals.

    Aspen Skiing Co. is famous for being big on sustainability because they have an executive there who is really committed to it.

    Some super big companies have also taken steps — for instance Walmart and Target both decided to make a big push to put organic food in their stores. Organic has many good consequences beyond the good stuff it does for your body — organic farming is much much better for the environment.

    Also I can throw in companies like ProLogis, which is a big real estate company that builds warehouses all over the world. ProLogis made a commitment a few years ago that every new warehouse it builds will be a LEED certified building, which incorporates certain green concepts.

    Now you could counter that Walmart is still a sucky company b/c they don’t pay benefits to their workers and they build these awful big-box stores, and I would not disagree. But I would still say that it’s a step forward for them to push organic produce. I think they have taken a step forward and I want them to do more.

    I don’t think we’re going to get companies to change all their spots in one fell swoop. We have a much better shot of pressuring them to make gradual changes, and applauding them when they do it successfully is probably worthwhile.

    There is a A LOT of news in this sector and one way to keep up is to check on the website Environmental Leader every so often. They do a good job of reporting on this stuff.

    http://www.environmentalleader.com/

    But do we have a long way to go? Yes. Do we have to be vigilant and not let companies get away with “greenwashing” instead of doing something meaningful — yes, absolutely.

    But I do believe this is a valid area and in fact I hope to start my own publication to cover some of these developments. (So yes, I have a dog in the fight πŸ˜‰

    GG

  10. stellium in sag:
    thank you for coming out of your cave just long enough to give an “insider’s view.” it’s a verrrrry important reminder.

  11. Kelly,

    We would need to experiment for a while, make a theory and start looking for patterns that support, detract from or build on the theory. We have a basic concept to work with. We can also bring in the discovery chart and the naming chart; there are websites (and friends of PW) that track that data.

    I suggest looking at Chiron transits TO this point to see what develops at those times.

    If you’re looking, you can enter your birth data into this website — which is in UK format — and then search the word “borasisi” in your browser and you’ll go right to it.

    http://serennu.com/astrology/ephemeris.php

    Most of us have it in Sagg through Pisces.

    ef

  12. Eric
    I am trying to grasp the central theme of Borasisi in a chart. I am interpreting the following, and correct me if I am wrong. Whatever sign it happens to be found, that’s where you find long held beliefs or things we tell ourselves that come true. I have certain entrenched beliefs about work, as an example. To my astonishment Borasisi is found in Capricorn (1st house). Question these beliefs..are you suggesting this about a natal placement and not just the now aspect to the new moon?
    Kelly

  13. A good idea; perhaps to write about — I invest a lot of energy into creating a socially responsible business. Happy to read the ideas of others doing this on a larger scale, but I will tell you I believe that the scale is part of the issue. Enterprise simply has to be smaller, with less-than-infinite resources in order to be responsible. The power and scale themselves present a temptation that seems too great for the fragile ethics on this plane of existence. Step one for responsible would smaller than a country.

    I admit it’s a bit of a challenge for me to think that a company like GE is going to do this on anything but the level of image — that is to say, to co-opt the concept of a socially responsible business and put it in ads. If you or others have examples, articles or want to contribute, please leave a note here.

    Thank you
    ef

  14. I would challenge you, Eric, to take the next step that comes after being an investigative journalist on the abuses of big business.

    The next step, after determining what’s wrong with the business culture, is to begin to try to imagine what could be right with it. We need to start dreaming up the kind of businesses that we actually want, and like, and need.

    There is a whole movement going on out there called “Corporate Social Responsibilty,” and the idea is to pressure corporations to start to adopt new values into their business model, especially values around the environment, the social good, and how corporations govern themselves, or “governance issues.”

    If you don’t believe me, google for CSR (corporate social responsibility). It’s a whole big field of study. Also search for RSI (responsible social investing) and “the triple bottom line.” (people, profit, planet)

    And it’s not just an academic exercise or a marketing promotion — some big companies are starting to embrace this stuff.

    And some of the big financial entities that are already more publicly minded, like pension funds, are actively adopting these ideas as guidelines for the kinds of companies they will invest in.

    Only a few big pension funds doing it so far — mostly in California — but more are coming on board.

    This movement is still in the early stages but I have a hunch that it’s going to keep growing.

    And it should. Because we need businesses. We need mining companies and energy-producing companies, and real estate developers. We really do need somebody to create these products.

    But the way we’re getting these products right now is often very very destructive, so if we’re going to keep living in an industrial society where we have comfy buildings to play in and nice electronic gadgets that have to be made out of all kinds of raw materials, and the energy to run them, we’ve gotta have these companies.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we had companies to do these things that were responsible and responsive and open and transparent?

    That’s part of the new world we have to create — socially responsible businesses. Has to be done. If we don’t start to tame the business world, the current no-hold-barred business regime is going to exhaust all of our natural resources in the next few generations, and we’ll all be sunk.

  15. Great audio in many respects, however I am jumping for Joy at the notion of considering to move Science to a different location than the one it currently has been occupying for quite a while…and that is from being on a pedestal. you CAN do it! with your own two hands!(gently now, it can be very unwieldy) .

    as someone who used to work as a research monkey (aka molecular biologist, involved with making trans-genic animals no-less) in the upper echelons of medical “science”, you brought up an issue near and dear to me:
    that of questioning this serious disease we have—the one of assuming that every study, every finding, every published scientific document is not only Right, but also the Truth…ummm. yeah…sorry folks, I can find you a peer-reviewed published study that makes the case for just about anything under the sun…so what’s the Truth now……???

    ahh..speaking of those deeply held, often shallowly grounded Beliefs We Have..(don’t get me wrong, I have them too)..it is a pertinent introduction to perhaps rethinking our relationship with Science…
    I hear people quoting “studies” right and left all the time. Do you even know what in the hell you are talking about?? Do you just blindly give away your perception of the Truth to someone wearing a white coat??

    The thing with these studies, AS WITH EVERYTHING is that they are so subjective. They are not all created equal. There is data that needs to be properly analyzed & not “massaged”, statistics that need to really mean something. There are ethics that come into play, and we haven’t BEGUN the conversation of which company, corporation, etc. is “sponsoring” the ahem, independent study…..did I even mention how research even gets funded in the first place??? it’s by being a successful publisher of research….hmmmm….that makes the stakes for “being published” pretty high, wouldn’t you think??

    wouldn’t you think that you would do your damndest to “get published”? wouldn’t you expect to feel at least a little pressure to have something to publish, have data that “proved” something….??? what would happen if what you were studying just wasn’t conclusive? if it you knew it really couldn’t be categorically substantiated by present-day Science? ….hmmmmm….prob. wouldn’t be handed the Leader in Science award at the moment..

    deep sigh…(((((())))))) what I am trying to say is, please, don’t just randomly quote this and that…look into it, think about it. scratch the surface. don’t take these “studies” as the ultimate Truth. Many of the things that are “studied”, believe it or not, are common-sense things. Scientists are people, they are not Gods. In my humble opinion, what you need to know, the authority you may be looking for, is within your own capability. Don’t sell yourself short, you DO know. at least the shit that matters.

    the little hermit returns to the cave convinced her words may sound confusing, but happy she was able to share from her little point of the cosmic pie,

    peace.

  16. Very informative on so many levels.
    It’s also comforting to understand why I feel the way i do with the Great Attractor conjuct the ascendant, Venus & Mars.
    Thank you

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