Nostradamus Octopus Oracle

You’ve been asking me for years. I hear it from publicists and publishers looking at me at first sight coming through the door. Television and radio hosts press me about it. My readers ask about it in emails by the hundreds over the years.

I look just like him, you all say. The face, the eyes, the presence. I guess it’s time to come clean. It’s time I make the public declaration you’ve all been waiting for. So, here it goes…

Who is the reincarnation of Nostradamus?

It is Paul.

Paul the Octopus.

This grand calamari of marvels lives in a fish tank in the Sea Life Aquarium in the city of Oberhausen, Germany. This entertainer of children was given a task to predict the fate and fortunes of the German soccer (football) team in the 2010 World Cup Championship held in stadiums deafened by a multitude of people with horns blasting a wasp-like razzing din in B-to-B flat monotones across South Africa.

At last we have found the great seer of Salon-en-Provence reborn. Paul the Octopusmus is Octadamus reincarnated.

Here’s the divinatory drill. A day or so before every scheduled game of the German team, our eight-tentacled oracle flows and flounces about his tank expectantly as the human handlers submerge two clear plastic containers into it. Each container bears a blue-black shelled mussel mollusk morsel — Paul’s favorite marine-life shelled-bivalve burrito. Each container also displays a plastic holder: one with a flag of Germany, the other with the opposing team for the ‘morrow’s match down in South Africa.

Paul roils and rolls his tentacles in contemplation, beak expectantly grinding. An augur’s gaze intent. He parachutes down to depth to alight upon the box of the winner, reaching in to “muscle” a meal as reporters beyond the aquarium flash and pan camera and prophesy about who will win the first match. Paul reached down and gobbled up the mussel in the tank displaying the black-yellow-red tricolor of Deutschland as the foretold winner against Team Australia.

The next day Germany muscled four goals to zilch from the Auzzies. A lucky break for the oracular octopus, they said.

For the next match meditated, Paul bobbled for mussel shell but this time it wasn’t in the German plastic box for game two. He curled suction cups around a bite of bivalve under the white, blue and red flag of Serbia. The next day red-jerseyed Milan Jovanovic, the Serbian soccer phenom, kicked ball and butt like he was redheaded Milla Jovovich in the movie Fifth Element, blasting a first-half strike at and over the German goalie, earning Serbia a 1-0 victory.

The next game was a must win for German soccer fans. Would the psychic calamari call the game in Deutschland’s favor, or would it be Ghana?

Paul passed an entranced suction cup over blue-black mussel shell under the Deutschland banner. Good Octi! Let us hope.

The next day, Germany edged Ghana 1-0 to win Group D and secure a showdown with England. Real people and the not-so-real personages of the press started to wonder sensationally. Was Paul a prophet? Or did his 2 and 1 picks in favor of Germany just show a mindless marine mollusk’s love of certain colors: the red and yellow colors of black-red-yellow German Bundesfarbe?

On the highly publicized and filmed theurgic session on the eve of Germany’s next Battle of Britain, hope ran high to what media of morsel might be munched in Paul’s prophetic mediumism.

Deutschland über alles! was the Pythia of the aquarium positing. Paul’s ichthyomancy presaged that Germany would beat Team England and the following day it did happen. Germany’s young Stukas of head sticks and kicks took all the spit and fire out of aging Engle-landers in a 4-1 sieg-hail victory.

Off to the Quarter Finals did Germany go, with Octopusmus’s prescience becoming an international discussion among footballer fans. Now the invertebrate inevitably passed a threshold where the law of averages and chance were becoming mathematically rarified. Paul curled his eight tentacles like a virtuoso pianist preparing for concert when clear plastic containers, mussel-baited, sank into his watery lair, one with Germany and the other with Argentina’s blue and white striped tricolor banners. Paul swooped down to beak-crunch the clam meat in Germania’s box.

The next day, Germany earned a semi-final spot in Wagnerian style, out-Valkyrie-riding the gauchos of football grass to a 4-0 win over Argentina at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium.

Off to the Semi-Finals we go. Paul so far has picked every win and one loss for the German team. A skeptic would think that the flag colors of Germany play a greater role than augury in the gut feelings of the suckered octoploid prophet. Octopi love red and yellow, you know. So why would Paul pick the über-blue field and white starred Aussie farbe, with jack-little red in the Union Jack corner? Why go for a white English field snow blinding an Octopedic eye to its thin red cross when amber yellow and red revved the optical cones of our venerable invertebrate? What squid would blow an inkling of divination on the blue and white Argentinean standard? The soft yellow sun in the white center stripe was too anemic for an octopode peek into that box. Yes, Paul did tentacle a fluke in forecast when he once ignored familiar red and yellow for the Serbian tri-color, but hey, says the cynic, Serbian flags have a bright scarlet top stripe with a big golden crown. Red flag that, Nostradamus!

To which sympathetic Octodamians might retort: “Yes but the tricolor of Ghana has lots of red and yellow stripes over-topping the green.”

We really have a test to fortune tell beyond color biases. Germany’s next challenger, the last challenger in the way of a final contest for the world cup was Spain. You could say, in farbe-flagging lingo that Spain’s reds and amber, yellow, golds are bigger across the banner than the German flag, crammed as they are to contain that schwartz-black. Could bigger be better? Take note my devil fish of those two red stripes framing a broad amber-yellow center stripe with a Spanish coat-of-arms dominated by red tones. Ooooh, catch a calamari if you can, if color titillates the secret powers of an octopod I would bet that Paul muscle-cracks a mussel shell out of the Spaniard bannered box.

And he did!

Auch du lieber! Was ist dieser furschtbar Vorstellung! Cried greater Germany. Paul picked the Spanish, that shifty, salty schweinhund!

It never fails. Whether your prophet has two limbs or eight, a long beard of a calamari’s beak, when the prediction is a message you don’t want to hear, the habitual reaction is to kill the messenger.

Death threats were posted by pissed-off Aryan footballers at Paul’s Aquarian web site comments page. The Spanish Prime minister suggested Paul have security guards planted before his aquarium glass pane. Those less tempted to make a Teutonic spectacle out of themselves and gave less than a Götter-damn-erung about Germany’s oncoming fortunes playfully chanted at beer halls for a fried calamari appetizer ala “Paul.”

During the game, braukeller saturated crowds in beer joints with big TVs joined crowds in parks huddled before huge screens across Germany, broadcasting live the game, chanting for the Octopus’s flesh on a plate for his prophetic betrayal.

Call it color augury or a real revelation, Spain whipped Germany 1-0 and advanced for the first time to the World Cup Final game.

At that point, Paul the Octodamus obtained greater worldwide fame of forecasting than that of his previous incarnation, Nostradamus, as the undisputed king of prophets. Yet there would soon appear another critter putting one feather forward to claim attention — a pet parakeet of an Indian Astrologer residing in Singapore named Mani. His owner the star caster of fortunes called on cameras to document his bird of Bardo, green-feathered with envy about how a backboneless squid should shame avian augury. Before Mani lay two cards set face down hiding the flags of Spain and its contender for the World Cup trophy, the Netherlands.

Roll videotape!

Mani scratched out and lifted up a beak full of card displaying the orange, white and blue tricolor of the Orangemen of Holland.

What would Paul divine in his tank? Would orange attract his eye, or would he “Ole!” langoustine lust for more mussel under the red and amber yellow of Spain?

Yes, you skeptics might disparage Paul’s Spaniard pick. You sports casters that haven’t moved on to MSNBC anchor seats to hunt for O’Reilly might reject a boneless arm wrestle of clam meat coming from a critter that has no idea of soccer stats (no mind to have ideas, even) that make the brawny footballers of Team Netherlands a better bet than the plucky, diminutive Spaniards. Yet the next day came, with a rather ugly game of spike, kick, yellow-card-and-run collisions. It wasn’t pretty but it was Spain’s day. They won the World Cup 1-0!

Sorry Mani. The Singaporean parakeet was obviously a parroting prophet who tried to rob feeder to play Paul.

Call it a chance roll of the mussel shell to save face with those who clean his tank, but Paul’s final prophecy grabbed bait out of Germany’s flagged box for the Bronze championship game against the not so calamari captivating colors of Uruguay’s blue and white flag. There was the golden sun in the corner field, but to ink-dark Deutscher mollusk musky eyes — don’t cry for me Argentina.

Paul capped his journey into World Cup divination getting EVERY call correct, including Germany winning the Bronze match 3-2.

All I can say is, Nostradamus must have earned some good karma because he’s far more accurate this time around than last: 100 percent!

Nostra-Paul’s track record in world cup forecasts compared to mine is proof enough that I am not Nostradamus. When I was invited by History Channel in January to be their main event at the press conference in Mexico City launching The Nostradamus Effect (El Efecto Nostradamus) for the Hispanic and Latin American market, nearly every interview ended with one last all-important question. Each reporter flushed with embarrassment and offered a preamble of apologies, yet… Oh heck! Doomsday be damned! 2012 be shelved! Who was going to win the world cup?

I warned them that I was a crappy sports prophet. No mussels had been offered, yet I was hungry to at last get a sports prophecy right, so I was sucker enough to rub my black and mirror-like mussel shell for a sporting scry:

“Everyone knows it’s going to be Brazil…” I necromanced.

(Brazil lost to the Netherlands 2-1 in the quarterfinals.)

I’ve heard that Paul has retired from forecasting and is back to his window play with the kiddies. If people intend to place their bets on Paul for the next World Cup in 2014, it might have to be staked on his progeny for octopi do not become octogenarians, at least in human years. At two years old, Paul could have a long life left for a pampered eight-pedial mollusk. Perhaps long enough to pick a mussel out of a box either labeled “doomsday” or one labeled “bloomsday” for the year 2012. (The ancient Maya liked the color red, amber and gold as much as Paul, but their favorite colors were shades of blue to green turquoise.)

Pssst…put the blue turquoise in the “doomsday” clear plastic box.


Fulfilled Predictions for 2010

I signed off the following predictions eight months and two weeks ago on 1 November 2009:

Jobless Recovery foreseen and Obama administration upholding its illusions about it in 2010

“Here’s another reality descending into 2010 like the line on an unemployment graph. There will be an economic recovery — a jobless recovery. It arrives in part because the advice of Obama’s econ-team keeps his policies and initiatives stuck in the higher abstract conjecture of university dogma that believes jobs are the last thing to improve in an economic recovery. So he will go on into 2010, thinking for far too long that signs of jobless recovery are only the darkness before the dawn.

“This isn’t change. Don’t believe your PhD. pundits, Mr. President. Sooner in 2010 (I pray) or later on when the next crisis may lurch into focus by 2010’s end, Obama will face confronting an unsettling but necessary lack of trust in his economic advisors.”

Washington, it’s not only the economy stupid, its jobs, stupid! Obama’s economic handlers play with the unemployment numbers and outright ignore the millions of people who have run out of unemployment benefits, who have given up looking for work and sit in their foreclosed homes letting time and frustrating inaction eat away all of their life savings.

But is Washington listening? We are told there is an improvement of the unemployment numbers, down from a high last year of 10.2 to 9.5. To get that number Obama’s handlers have to ignore millions of people lost to the job market. The real unemployment numbers nationally could be as high as 16 percent! Another 1.3 million will join them later this year.

This systemic lack of connecting the dots in Washington to real recovery requires we turn the usual rules or dogmas on their ears. Jobs come first! In Predictions for 2010 I describe in detail in several chapters how jobs for ordinary people can at once be stimulated by the right injections at the right times of public funds. What I foresee is an alternative future to the malaise-filled path those in Washington lazily tread.

Significant Reform of the Banks in 2010

“The essence of [Obama’s] economic policies in 2009 were sourced from the ranks of Wall Street conciliari like Larry Summers and Geithner who once compromised and helped deregulate checks and balances controlling the greed of Banksters. That can’t bode well for 2010 bank reform.

“The real test of my above observations will be seen in the coming fight to pass the CFPA (Consumer Financial Protection Agency) into law. It is Obama’s proposed legislation for revamping consumer and financial regulation.

“Will it work?

“2010 will mark the beginning of a slow and often halting forward motion out of 30 years of economic and banking deregulation. The pendulum has begun to swing and though it seems hard to believe that government will reform and regulate business as it used to, the long-term progress of this era of Pluto’s transit through Capricorn (2008-2024) will bring a subconscious desire for control and reform to return.”

Today, the Senate passed into law the most sweeping financial reforms since Ronald Reagan began applying a wrecking ball to regulations in the early 1980s. The pendulum has swung. For better or worse, we are entering an era of socially conscious government and industry or “socialism”. Some destinies cannot be avoided. Rather than resist this change, those in opposition to it must make social consciousness in banking, in business, in regulation work fairly for each American individual and not for special interests.

What now begins in Washington is what I called in the book the battle of the two Roosevelts. Do we reform our country like Republican Teddy Roosevelt or Democrat Franklin Roosevelt? Read more about it in Predictions for 2010.

A Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season Continues.

“The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season won’t throw wave after wave of tropical storms at the Gulf States and Florida like the year of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005.”

I have reprised part of this quote again from last month’s blog to emphasize a little prophetic “so far so good” news. We are six weeks into the North Atlantic Hurricane Season and only Hurricane Alex brushing through the western fringes of the Gulf of Mexico in late June becoming a moderate Category 2 Hurricane at landfall in Mexico. Alex was followed by a tropical depression almost in the same path a few weeks later. If this were the nasty Katrina-like 2005 hurricane season forecast by NOAA meteorologists, we should have seen four or five tropical storms by now. In the same period in 2005 the Gulf region was slammed by Tropical Storms Arlene, Bret, a Category 1 Hurricane Cindy, Category 4 Hurricane Dennis and Category 5 Hurricane Emily. I’m crossing my fingers that the storms won’t sprout up like dandelions in the drink in the near future and play havoc’s catch-up with us.

John Hogue

(15 July 2010)

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