Yes, Virginia, Armageddon has begun

The post will deal with this issue but first be sure to read Marc Miller’s response under Recent Comments. His lifestyle is right on the mark!

Now, about Armageddon. According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon is the prophesied location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times, which is variously interpreted as either a literal or a symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end-of-the-world scenario. In Islamic theology, Armageddon is also mentioned in Hadith as the Greatest Armageddon  (the great battle).

The Abrahamic religions maintain a linear cosmology, with end-time scenarios containing themes of transformation and redemption. In Judaism, the term “end of days” makes reference to the Messianic Age and includes an in-gathering of the exiled Jewish diaspora, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the righteous, and the world to come. Christianity depicts the end time as a period of tribulation that precedes the second coming of Christ, who will face the rise of the Antichrist along with his power structure and false prophets, and usher in the Kingdom of God. [ mostly from Wikipedia]

Now that we have our Certificate of Understanding, One can define Armageddon as any extended, excessive change and upheaval of morals, economy, global upheaval and comprehensive, diminished value of humanity.

In the news today, Trump, along with a self-interested polity, economic disparity, global population issues, overdue war among Islamic nations, AI, and planet weather on the move, could be described as an Armageddon.

But in his musings, mariner feels that a big list of troublesome times is not what Armageddon is all about. Planetary Armageddons preceded life on Earth by billions of years. Focus on the term ‘end of times’. When an Armageddon occurs, what pre-existed no longer exists.  Pre-Armageddon isn’t upgraded or modified, it is gone. One crude example is the disappearance of nomadic life when money was invented, ways were found to manipulate planet resources for profit, and stationery life made survival more secure. Only one nomadic tribe still exists: in Africa and its days are numbered just like thousands of other creatures on the continent.

Bear with mariner as he focuses on circumstances that predict an ‘end of time’ for humanity.

By far and without question, the potential for an electronically based existence that will push human life into extinction, is the most potent shift that may cause a genuine ‘end of time’ for humanity. With a bit of tongue in cheek, mariner poses some phenomena.

Already, trucks and electric vehicles don’t need humans to run around streets like a loose dog. One can call a self-directed cab, get in and arrive at the appointed destination. Cab driver? Give this situation a broader context: why, eventually, would taxis need to exist if fewer and fewer people travel? By then, will vehicles still exist?

Technology exists today to make sex dolls self-dependent. They will be able to move out and sustain themselves without a ‘sponsor’. Provide them with an especially supportive bordello – who needs human prostitutes?

It is not just less and less need for humans. Does the reader enjoy the presence of their local state bank? Armageddon already is underway for independent banks. Already, large credit card companies have been absorbed by corporations like Amazon. Amazon can then control pricing from manufacturer to customer – including managing a customer’s checking and savings accounts. Then there’s crypto – no one knows what will happen when crypto leaks into the stock market; perhaps we won’t need the dozen or so humans who control stock markets.

To sustain a human’s life is much more complex than plugging into an electric socket. Did the reader know that if every little piece of vein and artery in their body were pieced together into a long string, it would wrap around the planet more than once.

Then there are all the ‘human communication’ robots. Everyone knows Apple’s Siri replaces everyone’s relatives. Then there’s the world of minions who replace secretaries when the reader calls for service. Mariner once got tangled up in a phone answering web that had three levels and about fifteen options – none of which led to a human.

The point is that electronic existence is so efficient when compared to the complex chemistry of humans that any post-Armageddon world will consist only of simplistic biological creatures driven, fed and taught by AI.

Storefront shopping disappeared long ago.

Ancient Mariner

Just for old timers

When mariner was in his sixties and had just retired, he thought, “Being old ain’t so bad.” He felt the new freedom of not having to work long days and forever flying off to some contract. Then he rolled into his seventies. During that time, he moved to his retirement home in a small Iowan town. He did notice that, socially, he had no role in this town. He dismissed this thought and traveled often to see friends and family, take a cruise, have the joy of crewing on the Stars and Stripes, (the America’s Cup winner in 1987), and sailing in the Caribbean.

As he neared his eighties, he experienced a few significant illnesses, began to have back problems, arthritis and palsy. He had adopted gardening as his new raison d’etre. In his eighties, however, the body disappeared. (See Tim Conway’s oldest man at ). Where once mariner could lift two concrete blocks and toss them into his pickup, yesterday he almost needed a hand truck to move one block five feet.

But the body is its own story bound by genetics, health history and life experience. There is a more important side to being old: mental health. The time comes when we must change who we think we are.

While work rules and government policy suggest when to retire from full employment in the sixties, it is the decisions we make in our seventies that set our future happiness. Perhaps now you have a parttime job in a grocery store or perhaps you belong to organizations like PEO, Masons or even a bowling league. The time has come to move on.

Do not make the mistake of just jumping out of your social role into a deep pit where a recliner-casket, a television and delivered groceries shape who you are. The subconscious brain (the real boss) needs to communicate with other humans no matter how old you are.

Instead of cutting strings and disappearing, develop a new plan for how you will fit into society. For example, set a specific pattern for visiting friends, having friends to your home, perhaps joining a volunteer organization or a hobby-based club like reading, arts and crafts, etc. If you are fortunate, perhaps its time to move to a retirement community – designed to fulfill your new but antiquated needs. Perhaps move closer to your family to retain that togetherness that families provide.

While one is alive, it is a mistake to retire to a closet. Just reshape the way one can still have a good time in a different way. Be with people!

Ancient Mariner


Mariner suspects that the general population may feel stress. The columns written by psychologists suggest hands-on diversions and inter-human activities (Remember the post about Cheers where everyone knows your name and they’re always glad you came?).

As many know, mariner is the last person to have humor but he will try. Here’s a cartoon that clearly defines the split between generations:

Then there’s the cheap jokes, AKA groaners:

Why is it a bad idea to iron your four-leaf clover?

You shouldn’t press your luck.


What does a clock do when it’s hungry?

It goes back four seconds.

Indeed, mariner groans.  Now go back to SNL 1979:  Just change the name from Jane to Fani: “Fani Willis, you ignorant slut!”

Here is a puzzle groaner: What do you subtract from seven to make it even?


The secret to curative humor, though, is to share casual conversations with family, friends and the bus driver. Mariner always has a groaner for his Primary Care Physician’s staff when he visits. Here’s a groaner puzzle he used recently:

A woman stands on the side of a river. Her dog is on the other side of the river. She calls the dog to come. The dog starts across the river and sits by her. Funny thing, though, the dog is completely dry. How did the dog get across the river without getting wet? There were no structures or helicopters to help.









The river was frozen.

Ancient Mariner





Report from the alter egos

As regular readers know, mariner is spending the 2024 election living in a small apartment in Chicken Little’s hen house. His television in the hen house blocks news channels and stations. It’s a simple environment, though more existential because one cannot watch the news. One is free to sense reality in its sunlight, rain and snow, early blooms in the bulb garden that hint spring is nigh – and the ability to communicate with neighbors in a friendly, unstressed atmosphere. (Via his laptop, mariner does smuggle a few of the better independent news links on the Internet.)

Mariner visited Chicken Little the other day. He’s in bad shape; he trembles so much his feathers are falling out. Mariner asked, “Plain and simple, what is your biggest fear?” Chicken Little sat silent with a strange look on his face. After a moment, he said, “The MAGA people.”


“They have guns. If Trump wins, he will use the military to shoot us; if he loses, the MAGA people will shoot us. Trump will only shoot his detractors but MAGA will shoot anyone they can find and burn houses – even my hen house.”

Mariner left him still very stressed and anxious. He decided to visit his skeptical alter ego, Amos. How are you doing, Amos?” “How do you think, mariner, with a dysfunctional Congress that is the oldest and most plutocratic in American history at a time when everything old has disappeared, two historically misplaced Presidential candidates, a collapsing biosphere, runaway corporations and untaxed billionaires?”

“Do you have some options?”

“Don’t vote for anyone over 55 – regardless of party; throw out the two party system and replace it with rank voting; shoot Trump and bury Biden. If the US wants to support Israel and Netanyahu, the US had better prepare for war with the Middle East, which I’m sure will be just as well managed as the Putin war.”

Mariner left Amos, who is still overwhelmed by a world without good news. Mariner moved down the block to visit Guru, mariner’s super-intellectual, intensive ‘why’ observer.

“Hello, Guru, how’s the planet?” “In a word, Armageddon” Guru replied. “Twenty-nine nations have no reportable Gross Domestic Product, the US is becoming isolationist at the worst possible time, computer technology has disrupted the normal transition of society leaving society without a rudder and, lest we forget, global warming has just begun.”

If you could redirect just one issue, what would it be?” There is a long pause, then another one. “Give the United Nations ultimate authority over any international event; the world has grown too small for nationalism; cap the world’s wealthy to redistribute GDP evenly around the world – there’s not enough food, too many people and a failing biosphere.”

Well – there seems to be a lot of negativity from the alter egos. Mariner wants to leave the reader with something positive. Living here in a small apartment, mariner’s diet often has leftovers. Often, he would eat dried, tough leftovers except for this tip: If the reader is reheating leftovers in the oven or the microwave, use a spritzer bottle to cover the food in water. As the food heats, it will not become even drier and tougher and may actually be restored.

Happy eating!

Ancient Mariner

Watching ourselves change

Everyone, whether they consciously acknowledge it or not, is trying to swim in a turbulent sea. Change is everywhere. Mariner pulled two charts from Axios that document change in the normalcy of buying a house and the every day behavior regarding television. Take a look:


Used to be that a person, couple or family could put aside some money for a year or two and go house hunting. Plain and simple, there aren’t enough houses for the nation’s population. Further, mortgage rates have soared from 2.65% in January 2021 surging to 7.79% in October 2023. Historically it is true that significant inflation can push rates as high as 18 percent (1981) but the inflation since COVID has been controlled. Suffering just as greatly are citizens looking for a new rental because their present landlord upped the rent beyond what the citizen could afford.

What changes in behavior are causing the shortage in housing?

֎ At retirement older homeowners are not selling their homes as often. Two behaviors may explain this: As folks live longer, home equity is the cushion for expensive retirement, assisted living, medical treatment and hospice care. Impacting this further, the large generation of millennials have reached retirement age. Secondly, because there are not enough homes, the retiree’s children are still living at home well into their twenties and, in poorer income families, it isn’t surprising to see two different families in a single-family  home.

֎ Another new behavior is working from home. Note that the chart is a compilation of twenty cities and does not include rural housing. There has been a rush of employees moving out of cities to find homes in less urban locations. Ironically, there are neighborhoods in Silicon Valley with standing vacancies. However, prices have not dropped. Add to this a second wave of migrants: citizens selling their expensive home and moving to rural America to purchase an inexpensive home whereby to live comfortably with the large profit from their city home.

One would think all this moving about would balance things. However, the underlying issue is that there are not enough homes for the population. There are some side issues like NIMBY that prevent low income housing and there are profiteers wiping out cheap neighborhoods to build casinos and rich high-rise condos. But the national housing market is too large to be shifted by these immoral behaviors.

On to television.

The blue and orange bars net out: TV viewership is not growing. Currently, only Netflix and live sports show growth. There are two large behaviors that tell why: smart phones (is yours on right now?), and the impact of social media. (Going back to 1971 when Sixty Minutes was the first news show to convert news programs from public service to profit income thereafter the conversion of news programming went from 30 minutes with Walter Cronkite to 24-hour channels – was there really that much more news? Welcome to gossip news!)

As if to add insult to injury, the Internet’s social media has had the same effect being so invasive that headlines are about opinions. Factual news is hard to find – everyone on TV is guessing about things that haven’t really happened – unless they are person-events like Taylor Swift. Mariner will never forget when CNN had eleven journalists sit in a long row to discuss a news item.

All in all, however, it is the smart phone and computer viewing that has changed our habits.

Ancient Mariner


Your new BFF

Mariner has been traveling, experiencing the wonderful Southwest Airline, mid-twentieth century airports, and marveling at the cultural and environmental differences between Iowa and Burbank California. While in Burbank, he was entertained by a huge tortoise kept in a yard as a pet – about two and a half feet high – and cute little miniature chameleons scurrying in gardens. It was gratifying to find a culture rich in diversified races, different cuisine and a society that maximizes the existential experience of life.

While on his journey and not writing posts, his readership had a nice bump; it must have been something he didn’t say.

The hubbub in the news today is all the new uses for robots that contain regenerative AI code. To date, the news has covered quick ways humans can avoid repetitive chores like writing contracts, validating health checkups, writing term papers, etc. But now, scientists are having compassion for idiot robots and inserting AI applications to make them act like idiot humans. This is serious. The man below is surrounded by robot dogs. How does one pet a robot dog? Is it as cuddly a feeling as cuddling a real dog? What will robot dogs do when their regenerative wisdom slips off track? Can dogs speak English? Robot sex dolls can . . .  May as well marry a human while you can.


[Yes, that is not a real human – it’s a talking sex doll.]

Meet your child’s new BFF at preschool; Do little robots behave like real three-year olds? Will robot babies come from the Meta world?

Begrudgingly, mariner will face the future; it will come and the world will not be the same. But there is something insidious about today’s change in social era: Humans won’t be in charge of important personal behaviors – corporations will run the world even so much as to diminish the importance of a citizen’s right to vote.

An analogy using the automobile will clarify:

When Henry Ford made automobiles, he sold them with no strings attached. It was a human that controlled the act of purchasing or not purchasing. A human could do whatever they wanted to do with the automobile; Ford didn’t care – he had his payment and moved to making the next automobile. Citizens were the decision makers in their lives.

Today, modern communications and AI technology are changing the decision process. Every interface with every social transaction is an experience where, to some degree, your personal decision is subject to corporate influence. Every mile you drive, every destination you reach, every service station you use, every restaurant, every job location, every school or church is noted. This personal data is used to set health and auto insurance rates, track regional gas consumption that affects prices, determines your  financial status and otherwise identify you as a given type of person politically and socially.

Many years ago mariner was looking for an automobile. Needless to say, he began receiving ads offering discounts or other deals on relatively inexpensive vehicles. Why didn’t they offer a fine Cadillac? Because at the time his income was meager. They knew; they made the decision as to what kind of automobile he should buy.

What else is not his to determine? The isolation of the stock market from the general economy prohibits meaningful participation by everyday citizens. Further, computers do most of trading without human intervention.

The typical sweetness of progress today carries a bad odor. Oh, to have his two ponies and a cart!

Ancient Mariner

How will change come?

Let’s face it: the world we experience today, with its reminiscences of the last century, with an international consortium beginning to look ragged and stressed and the culture is not the public dynamo it once was. Acknowledging the passing of political and cultural time, add to that a new and very dominating influence by intellectualized computers; add to that significant worldwide changes in population where wealthy nations are losing population generally then add that the entire planet is exacerbated by global warming that shifts farms into deserts, valleys into seas and expensive devastation to urban life.

The new age promises better management of health, a new interpretation of the work week, increased agricultural economy, a burst of jobs to upgrade old technologies, old roads, improved water management, stronger and more flexible supply chains and a new economy that is international and replaces some of the role of nation-specific economies.

But the vision isn’t clear. There is fog everywhere and rumblings are heard. For a hundred years the white collar culture was the spine of American society. A college education with its focus on liberal arts and a college experience that instilled a unifying grace among graduates. Even with fog about, one can see liberal arts fading rapidly; one can see that what has become important is job training, not intellectual perception.

There is a sense that the relationship between capitalism and democracy is crumbling. This has led to dysfunctional governments from the Federal Government to County districts. The cultural spine has disappeared. Lack of cultural spine has allowed big corporations to expand without obligation to the citizenry and has allowed oligarchical greed to flourish.

But isn’t it supposed to be a big new world? Isn’t progress a way to grow society? isn’t a changing world the secret to sustaining life? The trouble is that humans have been taking out loans from the biosphere; extinct species have passed 20,000 and what’s left is threatened – because humans haven’t repaid the loans.

Clearly, the three-branches of government have been compromised by weaponized political parties. What events will occur to regain unity through grace? What economic shift will bring 25 percent of the nation’s citizens back to an ability to survive?

There are some bad thoughts. Since the beginning of human existence when major shifts in religion, culture or economics occurred, the shift included a war. Will we have a war with China? The Middle East? Economies everywhere are unsteady because of overpopulation and the stressed biosphere. Will the US have another civil war?

We will have to wait and see.

What are the tools society needs to build a new cultural spine? All the tools are handy at the individual citizen level. A powerful tool is one’s right to vote. Has the nation used this tool appropriately and with good judgment? Make an effort to casually connect with all your neighbors – without politics as a subject. Bring the whole family together for a week. Occasionally attend a legislative hearing or a staged conversation with politicians. Look for fresh candidates.

All-in-all, however, no one knows how the future will play out – yet.

Ancient Mariner

Beyond Matrix

Yes, our bold scientists have moved beyond Matrix. Read this excerpt from Science Magazine:

“By squirting cells from a 3D printer, researchers have created tissue that looks—and acts—like a chunk of brain. In recent years, scientists have learned how to load up 3D printers with cells and other scaffolding ingredients to create living tissues, but making realistic brainlike constructs has been a challenge. Now, one team has shown that, by modifying its printing techniques, it can print and combine multiple subtypes of cells that better mimic signaling in the human brain.”

This article gives mariner a better idea of how humans will evolve into the technically driven creature of the future. As pieces of the body are replaced, the chromosomes will be modified in a manner that will alter future offspring. This way, humans won’t have to wait 260,000 years for a new species; just a few generations is all the time that’s needed.

How will 3D printers modify the brain? Perhaps arms and legs will disappear in three generations. Perhaps pregnancy can be triggered with a radio signal. On the other hand, perhaps life expectancy will be variable, maintaining a finite population/environment relationship.

Don’t be concerned about this. Your Apple goggle reality won’t expose this process.

If anyone wants to visit the mariner, he’s in his apartment in Chicken Little’s henhouse.

Ancient Mariner


Yes, he knows, logarithms aren’t interesting. But the reader will have to put up with obtuse and irrelevant subjects while mariner spends time in Chicken Little’s henhouse.

Cruising through Netflix, mariner found a documentary about how everything in the Universe is connected with everything in the Universe in an orderly fashion. Humans, like every creature, measure reality in terms of meaningful increments – one candy, one day, one football game, 12 eggs, one automobile, $500 dollars, three children, etc.

But if a very large number of anything – people, number of days late to work in a lifetime, the distance from Earth to every star in the sky, the number of times each letter of the alphabet starts a word in The New York Times, etc., the numbers will relate to one another in a pattern called a logarithm. Even the pixels in a photograph are subject to the same pattern in this logarithm. What is fascinating is that the values in the logarithm are the same for every example!

Take the tax returns from every citizen in the US. Throw all the numbers in all the answer boxes together. The number ‘1’ will start 30 percent of the values in all the boxes. The same is true when measuring distances to the stars; whether one uses miles or kilometers or 2x4x8 lumber, 30 percent of the distances will start with ‘1’.

Mariner will not pursue deeper uses for logarithms. He suggests the reader go to Netflix and search for ‘Connected’. Or, if you are more scholarly, search for ‘Benford’s Law’.

When mariner took calculus in high school, the ethereal characteristics of logarithms was not taught. Consequently, as a tool it was a boring inversion of exponential values. He, remembers, though, that a different order of values was created that seemed to having nothing to do with the rest of the values in the equation.

So, what’s for supper?

Ancient Mariner


Spring is nigh

After several weeks of near-zero temperatures, a foot of snow, a large lake at the end of the yard, bitter winds and muck in the yard, there are signs. Mariner is hesitant to celebrate. He has no trust in Punxsutawney Phil and last February saw similar temperatures in the sixties which provoked premature growth that later was frozen in a series of frosts in late April.

Still, in these times, any sign of a positive event should be appreciated. Today, tulips in the front garden poked through just by an inch or less but there is life! Further, when mariner cleared last year’s dead tomato plants, he discovered four chard plants pushing through in spite of all the cover. This is well appreciated because that row of chard was covered by the huge tomato plants and bush beans. He considers the chard heroes and they will receive special care this year.

It was refreshing to return to the hardscape chores that will restructure the backyard gardens.

Since spring is nigh, he and his wife will attempt a celebration of family as they launch a visit to their family in California (if they haven’t been washed away).

So, readers, look around for similar good times with your family and newfound gumption. Be warned, however, not to look too far – it’s a tough world out there.

Ancient Mariner