New Moths for 2018

The following moths, discovered by several workers in the region, are new to my database of species in the Pikes Peak Region. Thanks to Eric Eaton, Aaron Driscoll, Zach Vogel, and Van Truan for posting photos of some of these. The ones without initials are from my collection, mainly from the bioblitz at Corral Bluffs in September. At that site, on one night, I took ten species new to the region.12345678

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Thirty-six new species found in the area. Keep going, guys. This is fun.

Time to Hit the Streets

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On the Congressionally Mandated US Climate Report, 23 November 2018

There is a disturbing parallel between the blindness of Congress to the facts about Vietnam in the 1970’s and the facts about climate change today. After Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which detailed the “saturation bombing” of Cambodia and Laos without the knowledge of our Senators and Representatives, there remained in the public mind the delusion that we could somehow win the war in Vietnam and save all of Southeast Asia from the greedy clutches of Communism. The “domino effect,” as Senators called it. We went on to elect Richard Nixon, who had a “secret plan” to win the war, and we continued in a tragic, losing effort for three more years until the fall of Saigon in 1975.

During those three years, an enormous groundswell of public protest brought hundreds of thousands of citizens, mostly young people, into the streets, chanting, screaming, and demanding an end to the hopeless cause that was the Vietnam War. Priests threw blood on Selective Service files. Buddhist monks set themselves on fire. Protestors blocked highways to stop military convoys. Young people mailed their draft cards back to their Selective Service offices. Statisticians tell us that what finally created a majority was that by 1973, about 75% of the country had direct or indirect connections with fallen soldiers in Vietnam.

The protests worked. Congressmen desperately railed against the persistent harassment to shore up their income streams from the military-industrial lobbies, but eventually realized that they couldn’t get the votes regardless of the money spent, and they finally knuckled under and supported the vast majority of the populace. Rather than a “domino effect,” the Soviet Union eventually fell, and we can visit Laos and Vietnam any time we want. The U.S. lost the war, but won the peace.

Yesterday the congressionally mandated U. S. Climate Change Report was issued, and I felt the same outrage that I felt in 1972, when Nixon won the election and promised further bloodshed in a losing cause. The jury is in, the facts on the ground are clear, the effects are already seen in many places worldwide, and there are clear alternatives to our current lifestyles that could be helpful. All that is missing today is the enormous groundswell of commitment to the solution by the young people of America.

This should be the start of the protests. We can sit by and allow our deeply compromised President to blunder along, denying the obvious effects of climate change, or we can hit the streets, call Congressional representatives, and demand a serious, coordinated effort to identify and support alternative energy sources and less wasteful lifestyles. The current administration’s ignorance and defiance of scientific information will ensure that the U.S. will bring up the tail in the world’s effort to address climate change. But sensible action now can blunt the worst effects of this mess. It’s time to demand the attention of Congress. Time to shout, chant, and get on the phone.

One last thought. When I call my Senator (Cory Gardner) I rarely leave a message. I call and call and call until I get an aide. Then I make a calm, sensible case and possibly change the thinking of one small potato at a time. We didn’t have to convince the generals in Vietnam. We just had to help the average GI to see reality.


The Trump Presidency: Hard Guys in Charge

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 1.07.41 PMWay back in the 60’s, if your high school was like mine, you had to deal with quite a few jocks and bullies. Hard guys. Bitter, angry, entitled rich kids who generally got their way or made the world around them suffer in some way. Cut donuts on the old lady’s yard. Rip off a few small businesses. Soak a cat in kerosene and set it afire. Insult girls with small breasts and shove smaller, prepubescent boys aside just for the rush of cruelty. They called out “homos,” and sang the ditty, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, chinks and niggers, spicks, and wops, Jesus thinks that they’re all tops, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” They never had any training in empathy because they didn’t need it. It slowed them down.

Dealing with these individuals was a futile challenge in most cases, one best avoided. But the saving grace was twofold: they were a minority, and society at large blunted their efforts to punish the “lesser beings” around them by outlawing outrageous behaviors. I lived with these poorly socialized people through high school and college and into my working life, always thankful that America knew how to keep them under control. The authorities always seemed kind and tolerant, just what these bullies hated.

What I didn’t realize as I grew older was that America was changing, slowly but inexorably, toward producing a majority of these hostile folks. When they elected Richard Nixon, Congress found a way to respond effectively. But when they elected Ronald Reagan, the balance was lost. The push was on to reward my childhood bullies and give them free rein. Even leading Democrats, like Bill Clinton, seemed blind to the direction in which the country was drifting. The Supreme Court declared George W. Bush the winner over Al Gore, cementing the course toward rule by the entitled rich. Barak Obama’s presidency, a pendulum swing back from Bush, allowed the disparate wings of the hard guy minorities to coalesce around conspiracy theories as they fought with great zeal to overcome his sense of decency and compassion for the working class.

These libertarians believed that they had the right to do anything they wanted, any time, and in any way. The strong federal government stood in the path of progress. Every nod to a minority must have felt like a personal slight, unacceptable and enraging. Imagine allowing poor minorities to vote! Imagine regulating toxic emissions by nearby industries to make housing developments safe for children! What an outrage!

And then came Trump, raised to believe that if you pushed hard enough and talked loud enough, the world would make way for you. Here was the model for which my old embittered classmates had waited. Finally, a man as mean spirited and brutish as they were, now in a position to change the course of the country, to pave the road for a vicious, motley subculture of intolerant bullies, using the same ugly language they grew up with, but with authority and raw power. The greatest charlatan in American history, spouting lies and hatred, hostile to everyone except his base, finally free now to run the country in favor of the rich, outlawing minorities and immigrants of all stripes, and herding into to his circle the religious leaders who once had shaken their fingers at the sneering senior boys.

I should have seen it coming. Aggressive, weakly educated, and poorly socialized people won’t sit back and peacefully watch generosity of spirit among their leaders. When this happened in Germany, the Nazi majority was helpless to stop the rush to catastrophe. The Jews, conveniently set up as social pariahs, were a perfect projection of the Nazis’ own dark spirit. The Nazis ended up personifying the very evil they thought they saw in the Jews. The resulting disaster had to be addressed by other governments.

And here we are in America, past the tipping point, firmly in the clutches of my childhood bullies, finally in a position to pull the levers of government to outlaw decency, tolerance, and generosity. They have attained majority status at last. Our country has officially become a brooding, bitter, selfish, fearful and hostile force in the world, a tool for the vastly wealthy to further their greedy ambitions.

A variation of this happened once before. When the North drifted toward eliminating slavery, the South revolted at this outrage. How could the central government dare to declare people free? How could wealthy landowners in the South flourish without slaves? Why should they have to? And there was no recourse but war. The question now is, can the present rift in American society ever be healed without war?

We are told that opposition to this wave cannot include intolerance, but must seek common ground. If any Democrat approaches Trump supporters as if they are all idiots, they say, it won’t work. But it seems to me that anyone who supports the move away from American Democracy to a lawless Oligarchy that supports world dictators as “great leaders,” and that dreams of an America without minorities is truly an idiot. The crowds who chanted their support for Hitler were absolutely idiots, selling their country into a losing bloodbath and condemnation by the whole world. Must we repeat this outrage?

The Rocks of Palisade Sill

DSC07273.jpgFor those not tuned in to Southwest Geology, a sill is an igneous intrusive that has inserted itself parallel to the surrounding strata (a dike runs at angles to the strata). Palisade Sill is a huge intrusive in northern New Mexico between Raton and Taos on Highway 64. You won’t miss it when you head west into the canyon out of Cimarron. The sill is made of Monzonite, which is on the continuum between syenite (very light in color) and diorite (medium in color) and has plagioclase and orthoclase feldspars in approximately equal amounts. In short, it is a lighter than granite, but generally similar.

My favorite aspect of this imposing formation is that the joint systems are at nearly right angles, which leaves enormous faces and a ragged, blocky crest at the skyline. And, of course, lots of rubble along the stream below. Here are some images of the crestline.DSC07299.jpeg







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Monarchs and Milkweed

We keep a patch of milkweed in the back yard, and several patches of excellent nectar sources for butterflies. My favorite colors are monarchs on Tithonia. Check these out.DSC07130.jpg






And then, of course, the milkweeds. Here it seems necessary to quote part of the great Richard Wilbur poem, “Two Voices in a Meadow.”

A Milkweed
Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field.







Letting Go

After 33 years of collecting moths in the Pikes Peak Region, I finally have begun to let it go to the C. P. Gillette Museum in Fort Collins at Colorado State University. The first installment, 36 drawers of mostly Noctuidae (the owlet moths) were shrink-wrapped and dispatched on August 29. One drawer is shown here.9.jpg

And here is the first load.IMG_2410.jpg

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Many more to go in the next few weeks. Sad to see them go, but I know that they’re in a better place. (!)