CALENDAR … OK, there’s been a seismic shift in the dating for the first human presence in the New World, on the continents of Turtle Island, both north and south. The best available science up to this year had placed the earliest humans in the American Southwest, the Clovis people, at 12,500 BP (Before the Present). But the latest findings from the Monte Verde village site 500 miles south of Santiago and 10 miles inland from the coast suggest that there were humans in South America 14,100 years ago (with a margin of error of 120 years). Researcher Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt University reported in the journal Science that seaweed found at the archaeological dig was radiocarbon dated a millennium older than any Clovis site yet found … And that dovetails with a paper also reported in Science last week this year of coprolites (fossilized human feces) found at the bottom of the Paisley 5 Mile Point Cave in south-central Oregon that date back to 14,300 BP and are being heralded as the earliest evidence of humans in North America. DNA analysis of the coprolites, while not without controversy, appear to be from humans of East Asian ancestry … Interesting that the earliest evidence of humans seems to be our shit. One wonders if galactic explorers of the future will measure our own civilization by what excrement we left behind … While not everyone tracks archaeological fine points like this, it’s a big deal for me. I’ve long been a champion of a new calendar. Not one to measure the days by the legendary birth of a messiah in the Middle East’s Judea during the height of the early Roman Empire, but a more fitting calendar for those of us who aren’t subscribers to intelligent design … Poet Gary Snyder has taken to measuring the years starting 50,000 years ago, which is recognized (roughly) as the beginning of human culture, using the dazzling cave paintings at the European Chauvet site as a benchmark. He then tacks on eight to match his calendar to the current Gregorian (Julian) Calendar so widely used in the Western World, in order to make it roughly parallel and easily comprehensible. Thus, this year in Snyder’s calendar would be 50,008 BP rather than 2008 AD (Anno Domini, Latin for “Year of the Lord”) … However, as I noted in a private correspondence with Gary, the work of Norwegian archaeologist Shelia Coulson at the Python Cave on the northern side of the Tsodilo Hills in the sparsely inhabited area of northwestern Botswana called Ngamiland, where the San people live, suggests that ritual behavior on the part of humans likely dates back 70,000 BP … Plus, I wanted a calendar for Turtle Island, not for the entire world. Why not date our world here in the United States after the first human occupation of the landmass we are native to and that we live on? So, I’ve been dating my poems and other documents using the 12,500 BP estimate as benchmark, and throwing in an extra 500 years for good measure, leading me to date this year as 13,008 in the millennia since our floating tectonic plate was colonized by our species … But now, I’m having to change my tune. Because it looks like 14,000 BP is closer to the scientific hypothesis of the moment. But, given the way the date continues to be pushed back, I’m going for 15,008 as the date for the year we’re living in. Fifteen millennia since humans set foot on these shores, and eight to keep a parallel tab with the Christian system we have in place currently in our country … In the light of that length of time, the Christian Era seems relatively recent, and the history of this country just in its infancy.
ZIPSKINNY … My cyberwhiz bud Lee Taylor of Lawson Hill has found a lovely new research utility on line. Go to ZIPskinny.com. Enter a zip code and get lots of demographic information … It was particularly telling for me, having moved (at least temporarily) from 81423 to 94041. In the former, the number of people per square mile averages three, while in the latter it averages 8,475 people per square mile. Total land area in the former, 268 square miles; in the latter, 1.6. Total population in the former, 1,301; in the latter, 13,471 … I mean we’re talking majorly claustrophobic for this Wright’s Mesa boy!
BIKING IN CALIF … It’s been pretty sad being in California and having to drive a car on crowded roadways, especially in a town (Mountain View) where the cars used to be scarce and I drove my gearless Schwinn everywhere as a child … So, I was delighted to buy a lovely little mountain bike at a yard sale and discover that Santa Clara County is incredibly bike friendly. There are paths and trails and bridges and everything just a few blocks from my house. I can ride down to the edge of the bay or up into the Santa Cruz Mountains, all by just hopping on a bike outside my dad’s door. The vegetation is lush along the trails. There are redwoods and flowering plants. It’s the California I remember as a kid. Not car California, but the flowering-summer-always-in-bloom California.
VINOD KHOSLA … That’s the name of a very successful Silicon Valley green investor that the San Francisco Chronicle interviewed in its business section the other day. Let me share some of his comments … “I have no question that in 10 years, there’s no way oil will be able to compete with biofuels. Even in five years. Now it will take a long time to scale biofuels, but I’m the only one in the world forecasting oil dropping in price to $35 a barrel by 2030.”
© 2008 Art GoodtimesTHE TALKING GOURD May Day
Inclined upon his bed
as the lilies trumpet white.
Whisper & fade.