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Today's Stichomancy for Billy Joel

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from The Cavalry General by Xenophon:


To pass to a different topic: on the march, the general will need to exercise a constant forethought to relieve the horses' backs and the troopers' legs, by a judicious interchange of riding and of marching. Wherein consists the golden mean, will not be hard to find; since "every man a standard to himself,"[1] applies, and your sensations are an index to prevent your fellows being overdone through inadvertence.

[1] The phrase is proverbial. Cf. Plat. "Theaet." 183 B.

But now supposing you are on the march in some direction, and it is uncertain whether you will stumble on the enemy, your duty is to rest your squadrons in turn; since it will go hard with you, if the enemy

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from A Treatise on Parents and Children by George Bernard Shaw:

flattery what it cannot seize by open force. Democracy becomes the latest trick of tyranny: "womanliness" becomes the latest wile of prostitution.

Between parent and child the same conflict wages and the same destruction of character ensues. Parents set themselves to bend the will of their children to their own--to break their stubborn spirit, as they call it--with the ruthlessness of Grand Inquisitors. Cunning, unscrupulous children learn all the arts of the sneak in circumventing tyranny: children of better character are cruelly distressed and more or less lamed for life by it.

Our Quarrelsomeness

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Wyoming by William MacLeod Raine:

disdain from under her silken lashes.

He leaned forward, elbow on the chair-arm and chin in hand. "We'll agree about it one of these days."

"Think so?" she returned airily.

"I don't think. I know."

Just an eyebeat her gaze met his, with that hint of shy questioning, of puzzled doubt that showed a growing interest. "I wonder," she murmured, and recovered herself little laugh.

How she hated her task, and him! She was a singularly honest woman, but she must play the siren; must allure this scoundrel to forgetfulness, with a hurried and yet elude the very familiarity

The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from The Octopus by Frank Norris:

rope around its neck. A Chinaman went by, teetering under the weight of his market baskets slung on a pole across his shoulders. In the neighbourhood of the hotel, the Yosemite House, travelling salesmen, drummers for jewelry firms of San Francisco, commercial agents, insurance men, well- dressed, metropolitan, debonair, stood about cracking jokes, or hurried in and out of the flapping white doors of the Yosemite barroom. The Yosemite 'bus and City 'bus passed up the street, on the way from the morning train, each with its two or three passengers. A very narrow wagon, belonging to the Cole & Colemore Harvester Works, went by, loaded with long strips of iron that made a horrible din