August 2016

Leaning into the center this election

By Art Goodtimes

OUR INNER HILLARY … Since the right-to-vote came late to women, there’s something karmic about a female presidency now seemingly within grasp. As a consummate insider with three national campaigns under her belt, Hillary’s done everything “right” to win. Lined up money, staff, insiders and superdelegates. On the campaign trail she’s kept to the vacuous and the rhetorically progressive so as not to offend factions. It’s textbook old school. And it’s taking its toll. Those of us who had hoped for a black president AND change are not very impressed. Yes, she’s a woman, and her presidency would be historic, but it seems more of the same Clintonian muddle in the middle, without any challenge to the elites or America’s hegemonic military role. … Clearly, Jill Stein would make a better first-woman American president. She’s an amazing candidate for the Green Party … But this November isn’t just about America. It’s about the whole fractious international order, with nuclear capabilities proliferating, belligerent and out-of-control states making provocations, bitterly irreconcilable conflicts popping up all over the globe … Like Alice Walker, I think Jefferson was right. We need a little rebellion now and again to reinvigorate the political experiment we call democracy. Arab Spring. Tea Party. Neo-fascists. Syriza. There are uprisings all over the world. And this November is about the world -- on the brink of climate change with more refugees/immigrants than anytime since World War II. So I’m a little rebellious -- delighted to have been a Bernie supporter, excited about Sen. Elizabeth Warren and hopeful that we can build a progressive coalition over the next decade … But, to be frank, analysis leads me to believe, for this November, Hillary better represents the international order of the “Free World” and its NATO allies in a time of upheaval and emergencies. Some would call it an American Empire, with as far a reach as the British, the Roman, the Persian or the Chinese Empires – if at a much shorter, more speeded-up, timescale … Regardless, these are dangerous times. In an election where our choices are between a rich bully and a rich manipulator, I’m inclined to go with the latter. For the sake of the world, as much as our own democracy.


the Now

that hard edge
future indicative

which supercedes all
pointillist romantic
subjunctive subjectives

SHROOMFEST … Do come check out the Telluride Mushroom Festival Aug. 18-21. Saturday afternoon at 4 pm will be the mushroom parade – a great time to bring the kids, dress up in a mushroom costume, and march with us down Telluride’s main street, chanting “We Love Mushrooms!” … Many amazing talks and forays, and a special Talking Gourds Mycolicious Poetry Party Friday night at 8 pm in Elks Lodge (old Swede- Finn building) with Native American poet Jeanetta Calhoun Mish reading from her new book What I Learned At the War (West End Press, Albuquerque, 2016), Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer doing her TedX Talk on metaphor, and lots more.

PLANT WALK … Checking my notes from the excellent Tamarisk Plant Workshop with Botanist Amanda Clements down at Bedrock a couple months back, I was surprised to learn that they’ve developed a gall midge wasp to lay eggs on “Russian knapweed” (Rhaponticum repens – formerly Acroptilon, originally Centaurus by Linnaeus). The larvae eat the seedheads they infect. I know rhaponticum stands have been reported to thrive for 75 years, and Cloud Acre has been mobbed with their deep irrigated-wetlands’-alluvial-clay roots for 30 years, but I am making handpull progress. Each year fewer and fewer perennial shoots of this Eurasian exotic appear. Nevertheless, a new bug would be welcome … How native “New Mexico Privet” or “Desert Olive” (Forestiera neomexicana) has late summer purplish berries that birds love … How colonizing fronds of Reed Canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea) can be found on the banks of the Dolores – a plant I’d only learned about from Jonathan Ott at a Telluride Mushroom Festival years ago. The toxic alkaloid gramine — found in Phalaris spp. — Is used mostly in synthetic organic chemistry as a starting material for tryptophan syntheses … How introduced Clasping Pepperweed (Lepidium perfoliatum) is a small ground-hugging annual or biennial. It has those oval seedheads like tiny light-gray lanterns … How even in the trampled flats of the Bedrock Boat Launch native grasses thrived: Stipa comata — “Needle & Thread”; Achnatherum hymenoides, formerly Oryzopsis -- “Indian Ricegrass”; and Pascopyrum smithii, formerly Agropyron — “Western Wheatgrass.”

LANIAKEA … Our cosmic address has just changed. Or at least expanded. As cosmologist Noam Libeskind and astronomer R. Brent Tully wrote in the July issue of Scientific American, “The Milky Way turns out to be a part of a massive supercluster of galaxies that forms one of the largest known structures in the universe” … The Earth is located as the third planet circling the Sun. The Sun is on the Orion Spur – a spiral arm in the suburbs of the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy is part of the Local Group – a gathering of more than 50 nearby galaxies spanning some seven million light years of space. The Local Group in turn exists at the ourskirts of the Virgo Cluster – an area of roughly 1000 galaxies, which in turn is part of an even larger Local Supercluster containing thousand of galaxy clusters covering some 100 million light years of space … If you’re as boggled as I am at all this expanse of the universe that we have somehow mapped from our tiny pinprick in the cosmic bubble, check our expanded new address. Tully and others have now discovered that our Local Supercluster “is but one lobe of a much larger supercluster, a collection of 100,000 large galaxies stretching across 400,000 million light years” … Since Tully and his team work out of the University of Hawaii, they’ve named this gargantuan supercluster Laniakea, which is Hawaiian for “immeasurable heaven.” As they explain it, it’s in honor of “the early Polynesians who navigated the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean by the stars. The Milky Way sits far from Laniakea’s center, in its outmost hinterlands” … That suits me fine. I like living on the outskirts of places, whether resort town Telluride or rural Laniakea.

HARD EVIDENCE … Discoveries of tool and bone artifacts in Oregon, Florida and perhaps Texas have pushed back the hard evidence for pre-Clovis habitation in North America. It used to be circa 12,500 years (Before Present, BP), or 10,500 (Before Christ, BC, or Before the Common Era, BCE). But a Paisley Cave find in Oregon registered 14,300 BP, Florida’s Page-Ladson site 14, 550 BP, and the controversial Buttermilk Creek Complex in Texas 15,500 BP … That’s important to me because I’ve been trying to craft several new calendars based on when humans first took root in the New World. I wanted to start with a dating system based on our species’ first arrival in the Americas – that western rib of Pangaea that created our two continents, north and south. Certainly it’s looking like a 16,000 BP might work for a North American calendar … But controversial Brazilian artifacts from the Vale de Pedra Furada site suggest to me that initial human habitation may have taken place earlier in the south, circa 25,000 years BP. But starting that far back would be a shock to our systems. Having been impressed, when making change, with the first principle of epistemology -- the necessity of taking people from the known to the unknown -- I’ve tweaked the Julian/ Gregorian calendar to come up with a couple hybrids. One I call the New World calendar and tracks the Gregorian tail with a superscripted head: 2016 Common Era (CE) equals 25016 (NW) … The Second is a straight-back Turtle Island calendar: 2016 CE = 16016 TI.

Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.