The Weather

Bum Logic: The World is a Trout

This is the fourth installment in Peter’s “Bum Logic” series, about his investigation into our inadvertent complicity in climate change, continued from last week’s post, Empire of the Summer Moon.

Subject: Follow-up


Got three points of substance for you:

1) I’d like to invite you to join me on the evening of November 11 at the Ackerman Ballroom in the UCLA Student Union where Bill McKibben, along with others (Naomi Klein, Kumi Naidoo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Josh Fox, Rev. Lennox Yearwood and more), will be speaking about the ongoing evolution of the “environmental” movement. I’ve purchased extra tickets, too. So, if you’d like, bring a guest.

2) I want to meet with the Cal Arts financial advisor(s) at Angeles Alliance Investments, and with the members of the Finance, Investment and Audit committee. Can you help me do that?

3) Is your mom the Susan Matthewson who wrote the “Secret Self” poem that won the thirty-eighth place accolade in the sixth annual Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards Collection? It’s a goody.

One point of intangible intimacy:

1) Thanks again for meeting with me last week and responding quickly with that follow-up fact check. Your insights and explanations have widened and tested my perceptions and my practices both, and I’m pretty sure that that is what education and educators should do.

Cheers, Peter

Assured that my words were representing my interests, I brought the mouse to hover over the send button. I clicked it and watched the liquid crystal display change in response to my actions.

In the meantime, other events had altered my mental state.

First, George McGovern passed away.

Then Obama and Romney squandered their final opportunity to win my vote. For the first time since 1984, climate change was not discussed in a presidential debate. That deviant behavior comes at a time when the repercussions of climate change are more pronounced than ever. One source announced that the advent of the Anthropocean Era is costing the global economy 1.2 trillion dollars a year, killing 1,000 children a day, and prematurely ending an estimated 400,000 lives a year.[1] Another intoned that Antarctica is sloughing off an average of 190,000,000 tons of ice a day.[2] Neither predicted that those numbers would diminish or stabilize without dramatic intervention coordinated by an unprecedented consensus of the planetary population.

That consensus, even if it were conceived, would likely come to term stillborn thanks to the incessant contaminating injections of corporate money, over 150 million dollars in America this year alone from the fossil fuel industry, plunged straight into the buttocks, the electoral politics, of societal life.[3] That poison is made all the more potent by the fact that the buttocks has only two cheeks—the two parties—and they are pockmarked with petulant acne—our corrupt politicians.

One pore that somehow has managed to remain unclogged is Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont, who still says odd but poignant things like, “It seems to me that one of our goals as human beings should be to strive for a world where everybody has the basic necessities of life.”[4]

This contrasts starkly with gangrenous content such as:

There are forty-seven percent of the population, who are dependent upon government, who believe [presumably in error] that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.

What is most inspiring and odd about Bernie is that he is an elected official who actively advocates for a three-party system. He will tell all those with ears within sound’s reach that our difficulty comes from this scenario:

If you have three candidates—somebody you really like who is, say, a strong progressive, somebody who is kind of a moderate, and somebody who is an extreme right winger—and you do not think the progressive can win, you’re going to vote for the moderate because you don’t want the real right winger to win. And that’s where the concept of instant runoff voting becomes very, very important. It is more democratic. It gives people the choice to vote for their first candidate and their second candidate, rather than always having to vote for the lesser of two evils.[5]

Which had me whistling, with more than a pinch of irony, Garcia’s, “A friend of the devil is a friend of mine,” while thinking thoughts aimed at a yet-unseen enemy, thoughts more along the lines of Dylan’s:

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

and negligible moments later I was writing “Bernie Sanders” on my absentee ballot. His name appeared there as “Jill Stein” and expressed my desire for a representational democracy that is absent, along with my resignation to life in a fantasy that is all too present.

After that I stood at the precipice of a period without urgency demanding my attentions. My inbox was empty. So I sat and waited for the siren’s song. Then I wrote a poem to call my own:

My mind is a dry fly
The world is a trout
Somehow it still has a habitat
Somehow it hasn’t been damned
Somehow I’m going to catch it
Touch it
Release it
Celebrate it
Tell others stories about it
Then, I’m going to hook it again
Or I’m going to teach someone else how
Because that’s what folks who fish do
And I am one


Bum Logic will continue next week in The Weather.




[3]  Number drawn from an email sent by Jamie Henn,


[5] ibid

Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.