Friday, April 21, 2017

Gary Snyder: "I pledge allegiance to the soil of Turtle Island"

Jane Hirshfield has teamed up with the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University to form #poetsforscience which will commemorate this weekend's March for Science and Earth Day. Hirshfield will read her poem "On the Fifth Day" on Saturday's march in Washington, D.C. This poster is part of a series celebrating poetry and science and the environment. Gary Snyder's "Turtle Island" was my favorite poetry book in the 1970s and I took it with me on backpacking trips in the Rockies: "Ah to be alive/on a mid-September morn/fording a stream/barefoot, pants rolled up/holding boots, pack on,/sunshine, ice in the shallows,/northern rockies."

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What would Kurt Vonnegut say about the April 22 March for Science?

If he were still alive, Kurt Vonnegut might have attended the science march near him this weekend. New York City will probably have a big one. He would probably attend more to protest numbskull Trump than to applaud science.

Some of Vonnegut's big books, especially Cat's Cradle, carry warnings about runaway scientific research. In Galapagos, Vonnegut posits a future where humankind has evolved into sea-lion-like creatures with flippers and beaks and smaller brains in heads streamlined for swimming. One of that book's recurring themes is that contemporary human brains are too big and possess all sorts of ways to screw things up. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Vonnegut has fun with time travel and memory. He also has the fire-bombing of Dresden, brought to us by masterminds in science and war-making. They go hand in hand. So it goes.

Vonnegut studied biochemistry as an undergrad and has a master's degree in anthropology. He worked as a PR guy for General Electric while he wrote his novels and raised his family. He and his fictional alter-ago, Kilgore Trout, are noted sci-fi writers. But Vonnegut stands out for his scientific background and his social commentary. Baby Boomers discovered his novels just as we headed off to college or Vietnam or the assembly line or wherever. It spoke to the absurdity of war, as did Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Ken  Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest completes the big three books of the 1960s that changed my life and many others. Just think about their backgrounds for a minute. Heller was a World War II veteran and NYC ad man in the Mad Men era. Kesey was a rural Oregon boy who made his way to Stanford and sixties legend as part of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. He wrapped up his life on a farm in Oregon, back where he started. Vonnegut came from an educated Indianapolis family but the war changed everything, as it did for many of our fathers. My father was able to attend college on the G.I. Bill, begin a career as an accountant, marry a nurse and fathered nine children, of which I am the oldest.

Dedicated sci-fi readers know the thrill and the danger of science. We know that science leads to Hiroshima and to the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or ICD. I wear one of those in my chest. It was invented by Morton Mower, a Denver resident, now a millionaire art collector. Part of his world-renowned collection of Impressionists (Degas, Renoir, Monet, etc.) is now on display at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at the Anschutz Medical Center, 13080 E. 19th Ave. in Aurora. A med center with a gallery that exhibits artwork collected by a scientist/inventor? You can attend for free as you get an ICD check-up at the cardiac telemetry unit. A nifty blend of science and art, invention and patronage.

Saturday's Science March is not an effort to promote science above religion or instead of religion. It is a move to celebrate scientific innovation against those who would hide inconvenient facts and cut funding for research. Consider the Know Nothings of the 19th century U.S. They professed to "know nothing" other than that written in their bibles. They valued The Word over words and imagination and science. Today's conservative Republicans are descendants of the Know Nothings.  They are threatened by humankind;'s march into the future. And it is scary. Technology brings drastic changes. The arts expose our children to other voices and other cultures. People who don't look like us force us to consider our deeply held beliefs about race and gender.

It's really fear that drives conservatives. Fear of galloping change. Science and the arts and education represent the most threatening fields. That's why Congressional conservatives' budget cuts target them. If only we could stop the clock, everything would be all right with the world!

But you can't stop change. So we write and we march and we challenge the people who want to deny climate change and evolution and higher ed.

On Saturday, April 22, we meet at 10:30 a.m. in the service station parking lot at Little America in Cheyenne. We then caravan over to Laramie, where we will join others at noon for the Wyoming March for Science from the UW Classroom Building at 9th and Ivinson to downtown. An Earth Day Rally follows, with music by Laramie's Wynona. If you are interested in making an appropriately clever sign, one that honors wit and science, gather at the UU Church in Cheyenne from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, April 21. I missed the Wyoming Art Party's sign-making session last night in Laramie. You may remember WAP's performance art at the Women's March in Cheyenne in January. Their uterine-based signage ("Wild Wombs of the West") was a big hit for many, although some follow-up letters in the local paper called them crude and insulting to women. It's always a good thing when a protest incites letters to the editor.

See you on Science Day on Saturday. It's also Earth Day. Naturally.

Vonnegut won't be there. He's on Tralfamadore, most likely. But he will be there in spirit, both as an encouragement -- and as a warning.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Trump Chicken asks: Where are Trump's missing tax returns?

The Trump Chump Chicken was the centerpiece of the Tax March rally today in Cheyenne. The building in the right background is IRS HQ. Some 150 rally attendees in Cheyenne, plus tens of thousands all over the country, request that Trump release his tax returns because we suspect shady dealings with Russia and almost any other entity on the planet. As one sign said, "No tax reform without tax returns." Creative people, creative signs. Next Saturday, April 22: March for Science in Laramie. Will you be there?

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Tax Day Protest set for April 15 in Cheyenne

On Saturday, April 15, concerned citizens will gather in Cheyenne to protest Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. It's Tax Day, the day usually devoted to the wailing and gnashing of teeth over tax filing deadlines. This year, however, Tax Day is officially April 18 due to the weekend and Easter and. presumably, the traditional Easter Egg Roll at the White House, which Trump will emcee this year. Imagine that. If it doesn't go well, if the eggs are not rolled to his liking, expect another Tomahawk launch on Syria.

Why is it important for Trump to release his taxes? Because we need accountability and transparency from this man who has shown so little during his 70 years. Release your tax returns, now, Donald. Or remain the nefarious robber baron that we suspect you are. More info on the protest at https://www.facebook.com/events/1256681387753289/ The Cheyenne protest was highlighted in an April 4 article on CNN Money.

I will make a sign and march on April 15. Will it accomplish anything? If you mean: will Trump finally release his tax returns? No, he will not. We will announce our opposition to his crooked ways, experience camaraderie along the way. At the Women's March in January, I had fun and met the nicest people. New people, mainly, although I saw some old friends. These sorts of gatherings help hold us together as Trump and his minions try to divide us.

See you April 15 at 10 a.m. at IRS HQ, 5353 Yellowstone Rd,, Cheyenne. Bring a sign. If you don't have a sign, and would like to make one in the company of good people, come to the Unitarian Universalist Church, 3005 Thomes Ave, at 6 p.m. on April 14.

And those of you interested in protest and body art, the Wyoming Women March on Equality group also is hosting a "Nevertheless, She Persisted" tattoo party from noon to whenever on April 15 at T.R.I.B.E. Zoo, 1901 Central Ave. in downtown Cheyenne. T.R.I.B.E. artists will charge $75 for a "Nevertheless, She Persisted" tattoo, with $50 going to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. The offer is good through May 15.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

MIA: Barrasso, Cheney, Enzi

Newspaper ad organized by local activists at Indivisible Cheyenne and paid for by just people.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Welcome to April's Wyoming Congressional town hall meetings with (probably) no Congressionals

While I was blogging the events for April I forgot this...

Heather Webb Springer of Indivisible Cheyenne/SE Wyoming posted this on the Indivisible Facebook page:
Please help us to promote the upcoming Town Halls being hosted by Wyoming constituents on Tuesday, April 11, 6-8 p.m., Laramie County Public Library, and Wednesday, April 19, 6 p.m., Laramie County Community College. 
First action item -- spread the news far and wide and help us produce a large turnout for these events! Please stay tuned for a copy of the letter that was delivered to the Congressional Delegation Offices on 3/29 inviting them to attend for 4/11 and/or 4/19. 
Invitations and letters to the editor are encouraged to help promote these Town Halls.
This is the beginning of my invitations, followed up by postcards and/or letters. The rest of you -- start writing. Or blogging. Or calling. To get you started, here is Rep. Cheney's contact info:

Cheyenne office: 2120 Capitol Ave., Suite 8005, Cheyenne, WY 82001, 307-772-2595
Web: http://www.cheney.house.gov
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/replizcheney