Peace by any Means

The following story copied from mariner’s newsletter from The Atlantic deserves to be distributed as widely as possible. It speaks to the joy of human compassion; it is a giant example of Pass It Forward.

Peace by Chocolate

Mar 06, 2019

For decades, Issam Hadhad ran a chocolate factory in Syria, the second-largest in the Middle East. In 2012, it was destroyed in a bombing. Hadhad and his family fled war-torn Damascus soon thereafter. After spending years in a Lebanese refugee camp, they were granted asylum in Canada. When they arrived in Nova Scotia in 2016, they had little more than the clothes on their back.

Hadhad, a chocolatier at heart, hoped to resume his profession once he was settled in his new country. But he spoke no English and had no resources. That’s when the community around him stepped in. Locals noticed Hadhad at the farmers’ market, where he sold sweets baked in his home kitchen. When they learned of his ambitions, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other skilled workers from the community rallied around Hadhad to help build a factory. The family even received a loan to kick-start the business. “I was welcomed as [if] Canada was my homeland,” Tareq Hadhad, Issam’s son, has said.

One of those friendly and solicitous locals was Frank Gallant. “Rather than viewing Issam as an outsider, Frank simply saw him as a friend going through a tough time,” Jonathan Keijser, who made a short documentary about the pair, told The Atlantic. Keijser’s film Brothers premieres on The Atlantic today. It follows Gallant and Hadhad on the latter’s first-ever camping trip. “Frank told me about how he’d been wanting to introduce Issam to some ‘real Canadian experiences,’ and mentioned how Issam had never been camping before,” Keijser recalled.

Gallant was initially skeptical about the prospect of being filmed. “He questioned what would be so interesting about following the two of them around,” Keijser said. “To Frank, the friendship that developed between [him and Hadhad] and their families was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Though Gallant and Hadhad cannot communicate fluently, the language barrier doesn’t seem to have impeded what is a palpable connection between the two men. “It was profoundly moving to witness firsthand the effortless friendship between Issam and Frank, despite their inability to speak the same language,” Keijser said. “It was clear by their interactions that they have an inherent understanding of each other—something many people search their whole lives for and still never achieve.”

Gallant frequently works alongside Hadhad in his chocolate factory, Peace by Chocolate. The company has pledged to hire 50 refugees by 2022.

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[CityLab] As AI Takes Over Jobs, Women Workers May Have the Most to Lose

Women, especially if they are Hispanic, may be at most financial risk from the automation of jobs says a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (Sarah Holder)

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This is a blatant, unabashed promotion by mariner: His go to news channel is NEWSY (283 on DISH and available on many other outlets). The following is copied from a search engine list:

“For news networks like CNN and Fox News Channel, about 70% of the viewership is over 55. By contrast, about 70% of Newsy’s audience is 25-54, according to E.W. Scripps.”

Nevertheless, if those over 55 checked the program, they may become regular viewers.

–Straight news, no gossip, no manufactured reality. Sean Hannity would have nothing to say.

–Conversational style directly to the viewer. Chris Matthews would never make it.

–Very appropriate special interest coverage.

–Get it all: world news, US news, local news, weather – each in a crisp, two or three minute presentation.

–Newsy also offers an email newsletter covering top stories.

–Website is friendly. See: https://www.newsy.com/

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Leash Laws for America

Mariner lives in a small town. There are many children and many senior citizens. There is a fear that dogs on the loose will run in packs, defecate everywhere, bite everyone, destroy gardens and otherwise frighten the populace. Hence there are dog leash laws. Having lived in the town for years, mariner has noticed that there are very few dogs that weigh more than their leash. If one is to fear anything, it may be that feral shih tzu will roam the vastness of the town’s back yards competing with squirrels, chipmunks and birds for meager garbage. Rabbits need not be afraid.

However, when it comes to American society, our corporations, our governments and our moral liberties, nothing seems to be restrained, fair, compassionate or rational. This is because very little is on a leash. It is not dogs that are the issue; it is humans who should be on a leash. Humans quickly can pillage nature, greedily destroy balanced economies, and form angry packs not to bite but to kill and all the while, piss on everything.

Just like dogs, humans have special breeds. The Government Breed has two classes: elected and professional; the Corporate Breed also has two classes: small business and profiteer; The Intellectual Breed has two classes: ideological and technical; then there is the Mongrel Breed divided into four unequal classes: conservative-poor, conservative-rich, liberal-poor and liberal-rich. While dogs are not concerned with coloration, humans are not as mature as dogs and tend to flaunt color. As a last description, all human classes bite, form packs at the slightest provocation and are absolutely territorial.

Those who manage the leashes are called ‘the electorate’. It is the electorate’s job to attach or remove leashes to the Government, Corporate, Intellectual and Mongrel Breeds. Attaching leashes is difficult because the spirit of the founding Constitution says, in a phrase, “There are no leashes – freedom for all; guns for all; pursuit of wealth for all – oh, and women can’t vote and it takes five blacks to equal 3 blacks for the purposes of counting population to be represented in Congress.” Fortunately, the last limitations have been unleashed – not including guns which never have been on a leash.

Because the electorate has been derelict in its duties, the Breeds have decided for themselves whether to be leashed or not – in almost all cases, not. What meat is to a dog, money is to human Breeds. The Breeds have become voracious ‘carnivores,’ garnering more and more money and not letting disadvantaged Mongrels have any and just as importantly, not taking care of the human park.

It is past time for the electorate to get off its derriere and rearrange leash laws. It also is time for every government entity that has dog leash laws to provide a good dog park as well.

Ancient Mariner

Familiarity

The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train,
And there to meet me is my Mama and Papa.
Down the road I look and there runs Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.

Yes, they’ll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly.
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.
The old house is still standing tho’ the paint is cracked and dry,
And there’s that old oak tree that I used to play on.
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.[1]

These words come to mind as mariner returns home after a trip that lasted a swirling fifteen days. True, the last verses are more maudlin (see footnote) but one cannot help but relate to the sensation of returning to what is familiar; somehow, the brain feels relieved that the five senses have ceased providing continuously new phenomena that requires the brain to process and identify them in every case. At home, things don’t need to be processed – the brain already has dealt with them.

Familiarity is an expression of implicit memory and largely is distinct from explicit memory (how to perform tasks). If it is suggested that a penny is an important coin, it is likely that, say one day later, if asked “what is an important coin?” an individual likely will suggest the penny. At home, one is surrounded with things that have been addressed over and over, including everything from spatial relations to colors to resident emotions. Everything already has an implicit value. If the reader is intrigued with further brain function, check out http://www.human-memory.net/types declarative.html .

So, settled among familiar settings, mariner can relax in a way that is not possible in a constantly changing environment. Familiar furniture, rooms, watching TV from a familiar angle in a familiar chair, it is comforting. Let implicit memory take over for a change and give explicit memory a rest.

Familiar issues return to the focus they had before the trip: Individual One, the state of the home gardens, things that require repair, balance the checkbook. Still, it’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Then I awake and look around me,
At four grey walls that surround me
And I realize, yes, I was only dreaming.
For there’s a guard and there’s a sad old padre,
Arm in arm, we’ll walk at daybreak.
Again I touch the green, green grass of home.

Yes, they’ll all come to see me
In the shade of that old oak tree
As they lay me ‘neath the green, green grass of home.

Songwriters: CLAUDE CURLY PUTMAN
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Discovering America

Yes, America still exists. The real America. Recently, mariner and his wife travelled across the Southwest sector of the US. Mariner’s wife put together a passage with ports of call and waypoints that avoided large cities, and as much as possible the Interstate highways. Our intent was to travel the forgotten routes to the villages, towns and history that are the true fabric of the nation. Referencing a recent post, we were intent to not drive a bus but actually travel the byways of culture and diversity that compose this fine nation.

Many travelers cannot put aside a vain, judgmental attitude; this attitude leads to a trip that misses the richness of diversity, the strength of freedom of choice. One must brush the dust off unused attitudes similar to sympathy and acceptance.

Up front, mariner wishes to correct any presumptions that small independent motels, small towns and villages and one-owner restaurants lack cleanliness, full-functionality and professionalism. Nonsense. They are five-star in their own right. Not five star like the plastic, sterile world of chain motels and machine-stamped restaurants but like the responsible humanness of unbleached reality. Quaintness is not another word for unacceptable.

Mariner and his wife visited several distinct cultures. One stop was in a town of 547 residents. It was on an original strip of Route 66 and the town remains as it was in the heyday of that highway in the 40s and 50s. For those who have traveled the Southwest, they know it is a vast region of little change in terrain. Deserts are common. Through this long, wide open region, Route 66 became the only road to transverse from the Midwest to the Pacific coast avoiding the travails of Rocky Mountain weather. It started in 1857 as a collection of Indian trails and sporadic wagon trails. Nothing was paved. Today with modern highways and speeds hovering around 75 or better, it still takes three days to travel the distance. Even the Santa Fe Chief takes two nights and three days by rail.

Mariner visited an American Indian neighborhood by the highway. There was very little in the way of a village, just travel services, Indian tourist items and a handful of small homes. (Most live out on the desert flats in very small shacks.) Mariner estimates that the economy on Indian reservations is about one-tenth the income per person of what the general economy represents. Bound by vindictive treaties, many established more than a century ago, American Indians largely are poverty-stricken but still very proud of their heritage. America has not treated American Indians very well.

Mariner visited a town whose economy was based on transportation – an immense truck stop and shipping center with all the retail and commercial resources that support this small city. At another stop the motel was managed by Hindus. As different economies and cultures were experienced, mariner and his wife became aware of the strength of diversity. At the same time, they felt the unity that gives the US its power. The two together are what made the US the wealthiest and most influential nation in history. It is sad commentary that US citizens and its governments have forgotten, even rejected the democratic engine that unites diversity and unity into a powerful alloy.

Ancient Mariner

 

Important but Unheralded News

2 times as often

[Wall Street Journal] Philadelphia has become the first major U.S. city to ban cashless stores, which have become a mini-retail fad in recent years. Stores say it saves them time; the city says it locks out poorer residents. The poorest Americans are nearly twice as likely to use cash as the richest ones.

Keep the change: Uber. Sweetgreen. Amazon Go. More businesses are opting to go cashless, and trends show Americans are hopping on board: In 2017, debit and credit card payments made up 48 percent of all transactions. Even more conventional restaurant and retail establishments have cut cash, citing increased efficiency and safety. But lawmakers at the local level are concerned that the cash-free economy will discriminate against low-income people. Philadelphia recently became the first city to ban cashless businesses, and San Francisco and D.C. are eyeing similar measures.

New York City is the latest to consider such a bill. With nearly 12 percent of its residents living unbanked—often people of color and undocumented immigrants—the policy brings a bigger question to life: Is refusing to accept cash a form of racial discrimination? “In the end, I think the need for equity outweighs the efficiency gains of a cashless business model,” says the city councilmember sponsoring New York’s legislation. “Human rights takes precedence over efficiency gains.” [1]

– – – –

27 universities

[The Wall Street Journal] At least 27 universities — including MIT, the University of Washington and the University of Hawaii, according to cybersecurity intelligence group — have been targeted by Chinese hackers on the hunt for research “about maritime technology being developed for military use.” The hacking group may be the same one that hacked Navy contractors last year, stealing submarine missile plans and other data.

– – – –

Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out.

[The Guardian] Let’s abandon this disastrous experiment, recognise that this 19th-century technology is now doing more harm than good, and plan our way out of it. Let’s set a target to cut the use of cars by 90% over the next decade.

Yes, the car is still useful – for a few people it’s essential. It would make a good servant. But it has become our master, and it spoils everything it touches. It now presents us with a series of emergencies that demand an emergency response.[2]

– – – –

40 Years After The Vietnam War, Some Refugees Face Deportation Under Trump

The Trump administration is trying to convince Vietnam to repatriate some 7,000 Vietnamese immigrants with criminal convictions who have been in the United States for more than 30 years.[3]

[1] For full article see: https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/03/cashless-cash-free-ban-bill-new-york-retail-discrimination/584203/?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%25%25RECIPIENT_ID%25%25&utm_source=newsletter

[2] For full article, see: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/07/cars-killing-us-driving-environment-phase-out?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%25%25RECIPIENT_ID%25%25&utm_source=newsletter

[3] For full article see: https://www.npr.org/2019/03/04/699177071/40-years-after-the-vietnam-war-some-refugees-face-deportation-under-trump?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190304&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews

The indifferent Species

[BBC] “The world’s most endangered orangutans could be pushed towards extinction after an Indonesian court approved a controversial dam project, say campaigners.

The 22 trillion rupiah ($1.5bn) dam will be built in North Sumatra’s Batang Toru forest.

The region is home to the Tapanuli orangutans, which were only identified as a new species in 2017.

Only 800 of them remain in the wild and they all live in this ecosystem.

One scientist, who acted as an expert witness in the case, told the BBC the move would “put the orangutans on a firm path to extinction”.

‘Worst area of the forest’

The billion-dollar hydropower dam, scheduled for completion in 2022, will be constructed in the heart of the Batang Toru rainforest, which is also home to agile gibbons and Sumatran tigers.”

–> There is no doubt in mariner’s mind that the human species is disassembling the Age of Mammals. And sea life. And birds. Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction – An unnatural History[1], documents the human’s childlike abuse of climate, habitat, and an alarming, almost unbelievable and unending list of extant species caused directly by human disregard for life.

Humans have assaulted the Planet’s willingness to harbor all life forms in a balanced and, albeit it competitive, a fair sharing of Earth’s global habitat. But humans, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, have met nature by population, by chemistry, and by destruction.

Even as the human species sits in the midst of a man-made climate disaster that kills from the deepest parts of the deepest ocean to the highest peaks of the highest mountain each and every day, humans, like little children, have no perspective on reality. What is important to Homo s. is insatiable consumption of resources for convenience and an artificial asset system consisting of economic engines that destroy the planet rather than heal it, force combative asset challenges on an environment that is not designed for continuous destruction in the name of meaningless, artificially measured profits.

In a past post, mariner listed the species that have disappeared by the hand of man. It ran for pages. Every human being should take Elizabeth Kolbert’s tour around the world to see the obnoxious behavior of humans as they deliberately destroy the planet’s evolutionary balance – at the cost of living creatures.

Dare mariner suggest our attitude toward our planet is similar to that of an incompetent, destructive, uncaring, selfish President of the United States?

Ancient Mariner

[1] The Sixth Extinction, An Unnatural History, Elizabeth Kolbert, 2014, Henry Holt and Company

The Broadening Value of Travel

Mariner and his wife were motivated to travel across the United States in their well-organized van; it is comfortably outfitted with a bed, efficient living quarters, and three van seats as well. On the road, it is a comfortable environment. On the road or just as importantly when one is off the road, broader, more challenging issues arise.

Mariner will not go into lurid details. Suffice it to say, one must understand the broadening opportunity behind one’s travel: peace and tranquility, exploration, cultural learning, new territories and new weather, but not just to get somewhere. As grossly dissatisfied as mariner is with all forms of commercial travel, if one wished only to be transplanted to another set of coordinates, fly, or take a train, or even a bus; use taxicabs and Uber. Do not plan on using your vehicle as a bus.

There is a tendency, if one is traveling with a tight schedule and a definite event at the end, to streamline the travel. Do not assume one is traveling; one is driving a bus – a bus with a schedule. If one is traveling farther than two days will allow, consider a commercial solution even if it means those waiting to greet one on the other end must go to great lengths to retrieve one from the nearest commercial point of disembarkation.

Some simple rules that will prevent one from busing:

Do not plan a daily itinerary from city to city. It seems efficient but it isn’t and often is more expensive. If one must endure several days driving a bus, do what mariner’s wife does: Make the first day a half day; travel only a few hours to an extra-city location. The next morning schedule a normal day’s travel so that rush hours are avoided and the next night’s stay also will be extra-city. In fact, horror of horrors for most folks, minimize interstate highways.

Determine a pleasant objective if nothing more than to see the world’s largest ball of string. Arrange lodging with that location in mind. One need not worry as often about the dreaded orange signs of road construction or the disaster of road closings that the GPS does not know about. One will not be bothered by traveling the world’s largest, most confusing interchanges while caught in rush hour. One need not be in the left lane of a busy, truck-laden, six-lane highway when suddenly the GPS suggests that one should be in the far right lane to take an exit in one quarter mile.

If, in fact a city is the destination for educational reasons, for example touring New York City, use commercial transportation – especially within the city. Leave consternation to the cabbie. (In NY, there is tourist trepidation in the subways; be sure to be adventuresome in one’s attitude)

Limit the range of daily travel. If one notes that the GPS says anything more than six hours, be wary of becoming a bus. Even if one is looking forward to touring a unique Aztec site, rearrange one’s schedule or perhaps insert an extra day and visit another spot of interest to keep daily travel to a minimum. Especially in the Southwest, deserts prevail and can place one in an awkward position without human support.

Never have a commitment within three days of the end of one’s projected travel. This leaves room to deliberately avoid busing. If one has an extra day, find some local characteristic to visit – even if it’s a discontinued seminary or a rundown gemstone store. (Mariner found the makings of a fine necklace for his wife in a gem and rock store where the front door could not open fully because of overgrown vines)

If one becomes tired, insert a stop at a tourist trap or take a tour of a small town. Do not travel tired. If the trip hours that day are properly short, extra stops will not endanger arriving at the last stop of the day; if they do, one is driving a bus. This also means bring entertainment along – more than one thinks they would need. Diversity is important: CDs, DVDs, laptop with wi-fi, books and magazines. Traveling with children and pets takes travel to another level; be sure to include entertainment and necessities for them, too.

Give serious planning to onboard capabilities. Keep food to prepared items. A very small cooler will suffice for perishables lasting a day or so. If the cooler must be replenished, use this as an excuse to stop at a local grocery. Further, be aware of vehicle environment, note the region one is traveling in and have a variety of clothing available. Also important is to carry all the items specified in an emergency travel kit. Mariner knows about needing a simple pair of cheap pliers to reconcile an issue.

In recent decades, commercialism has trained us to seek standardized expectations. For example, brand hotels and restaurant chains supposedly are the only places to use while traveling. Nonsense. Nonbrand businesses won’t hurt a traveler and provide a different kind of pleasantness that is much more memorable. Ever stay in a six-unit motel where one is wakened by a bleating goat? Can’t beat it for non-bus travel.

Finally, make a thorough list of toiletries, lotions, medicines, reading glasses, toothpicks, penknife, aids like hearing aids and batteries of all kinds; check it twice when loading for the trip.

Remember, the trip is for education, inspiration, enjoyment and fellowship – oh and yes, don’t forget one has a final destination at some point.

And really finally, don’t forget your bathing suit.

Ancient Mariner

While Traveling

Mariner was traveling along the Kansas Turnpike a few days ago. It is a lovely stretch of highway that runs from near Topeka to Oklahoma City, mariner’s drop off point. For hours on end, traffic was light and the drivin’ was easy. As many road travelers know, long periods without distraction can put one to sleep – not a good thing behind the steering wheel. Mariner decided to think about what to write in the next post but decided to be more creative and write a treatment for a light movie.

SO what to write about. Mariner decided to write a story about three young men who wanted to start a pop trio. One was a Latino who could play the guitar and sing; the second, also a Latino, played the keyboard and had written a few songs for friends and the third was an Asian who was a drummer; he had played in a band that played at informal high school events. The boys decided to call themselves the “LLAMAS.”

They practiced diligently for almost a year. Occasionally, they would get a small gig at a big party or a talent contest. They felt they were respectable and decided to go for the big time – go pro. The LLAMAS decided to write a couple of songs to play for a record agent. They practiced diligently and enjoyed the experience and anticipation of a show business future. Their hopes were high. They even bought matching outfits with a hot maroon jacket emblazoned with “THE LLAMAS” across the back, a white shirt and black pants.

The big day came and they met with a record agent. They played three songs they had written. The agent was impressed and showed special interest in one of their songs. “Would you be interested in selling a song to get started? You could make serious money if you sold the song.”

No, they wanted to bring their own sound and image to the market. “Buying our song means buying the LLAMAS”, they said.

The agent left, still encouraging them to stick with their dream but if they wanted some good money to get started, let him know about the song.

They went on practicing and honing their songs. About a month later, the LLAMAS had a dry spell, getting only a few gigs and they were far enough away to drain their meager funds. Around that time, the record agent called to see if they had changed their mind. No, they said, they were a package – the LLAMAS.

Six months went by. The LLAMAS couldn’t scare up scratch. No agents were interested and the gigs were insignificant. The boys had taken jobs to make ends meet. They made a fateful decision. They called the record agent to see if he still wanted to buy their song. “Of course,” he said. “It’s a great song. I’ll sell this to a headline singer and maybe get some cover acts, too.”

The boys received a nice check for selling the song. Three weeks later, the record agent called them to let them know Barry Manilow had contracted rights to the song and was singing it on a national TV show.

The boys watched as Barry launched into their song:

“Can’t Smile Without You
You know I can’t smile without you
I can’t smile without you
I can’t laugh, and I can’t sleep
I don’t even talk to people I meet
And I feel sad when you’re sad
I feel glad when you’re glad
And you must know what I’m goin’ thru
I just can’t smile, without you”

They knew they had made a mistake. It wasn’t about money – never would be. The song wasn’t Barry’s creation; it was the LLAMAS’. It was the reward and recognition for creative success; they belonged on that stage, not Barry. It was the attention and respect that their talent would command. It was big time show business. It wasn’t about the money. They should have held out and been true to the glory of the LLAMAS. . . .

We’re in Oklahoma City, now. Traffic demands mariner’s attention.

PS: In reality the song was written by CHRIS ARNOLD,DAVID MARTIN,GEOFF MORROW © Universal Music Publishing Group

Ancient Mariner

 

Stuff of Dreams

Be forewarned, mariner is taking a dive into nerdism. A few nights ago mariner had one of those nights where one tosses and turns while the brain works feverishly on some very important issue (to the brain) that seemingly cannot be resolved so the brain keeps returning to the issue seeking resolution.

The brain was trying to define something about how time moves faster or maybe how change occurs rapidly. To make a long night short, the brain was wrestling with Bayes’ theorem, which generally is the kind of probability math that explains the probability of change in genetics among many similar probabilities, even betting on the Chicago Bears.

The conflicting equation, not an official mathematical equation, is Moore’s Law about how increasingly rapid engineers will stuff more transistors into a given space; just Moore’s opinion that has proven true for the last decade or two.

Mariner is not the nerd one might think knowing about these equations. Mariner read Nate Silver’s book about gambling probabilities which contained an entire chapter on Bayes’ theorem. Nate’s book has been a best seller for years. As for Moore’s Law, mariner spent many years as a consultant working on expanded databases – which requires smaller and smaller transistors per square inch.

Back to the brain’s preoccupation. Why? It took a day or two to realize that mariner had read an interesting article on LiveScience.com about the fact that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy will come together sooner than later. Of course, don’t hold your breath for a few billion years but apparently the brain was concerned about the effects of two galaxies crashing into one another. As anyone knows who has had these odd, nightlong dreams, don’t try to make sense of the assumptions.

Now to rinse away the nerdiness. Everyone who has had the opportunity to know is aware that the starting point for humans as we know them was about 90,000 years ago. Suddenly, major change occurred about 20,000 years ago as humans developed rudimentary economies; 12,000 years ago, humans developed religion; 6,000 years ago, humans developed sustainable nations; 300 years ago, electricity was harnessed; 200 years ago, the combustible engine was invented; 130 years ago, the automobile replaced the horse; Less than fifty years ago, computers took control of data; just yesterday, smartphones took over the human brain. Should readers be as concerned about the acceleration of change as mariner’s brain was?

As to Bayes’ theorem, hasn’t everyone thrown a rock into a pond and watched the ripples move out and away from the point where the stone entered the water? Bayes simply said, “What are the odds that the ripple will reach 20 feet within 5 seconds? Will Andromeda coalesce within 4 billion years? What are the odds?

– – – –

Incidentally, Mariner will be traveling for a couple of weeks (Does the reader feel he needs it?). Perhaps a post will be available but no promises.

Ancient Mariner

Age of Corporatism

Everyone is aware that corporate money saturates the purpose of government – not the spirit of statesmanship or doing one’s share for liberty and justice for all. Al Franken, a popular Senator representing Minnesota who had to step down because of poor taste in humor about women, likely could win if he ran again. Franken said it was not worth it because the first five hours of every day were spent hustling donations from lobbyists, corporations and private donors. Party politics are tightly locked into the amount of money an elected official can raise. If a Senator or Representative can raise a goodly sum, he or she likely will be assigned to choice committees and even chairmanships. Part of the collapse of statesmanship is caused right up front by political parties operated to sustain party dominance and participation in plutocratic government, not ideological convictions.

When the Trans Pacific Partnership was promoted in 2016, mariner found himself juxtaposed. He believed in the future potential of the international consortium as a sign of the new international economy but could not support the fine print. Corporate trade representatives actually wrote the treaty; it was written so corporations did not necessarily have to abide by each nation’s civil rights, regulations or what was best for a nation’s economy. In other words, the TPP was written for the benefit of corporate trade and allowed modifications solely to maximize profit – the niceties of equality and cultural obligation are not part of the corporate ethos.

[Politico] How an EPA Official’s old firm earned millions fighting environmental rules:

“The nation’s biggest coal-burning power companies paid a top lobbying firm millions of dollars to fight a wide range of Obama-era environmental rules, documents obtained by POLITICO reveal — shortly before one of the firm’s partners became President Donald Trump’s top air pollution regulator,” POLITICO’s Zack Colman and Alex Guillén report. “Now that ex-partner, Bill Wehrum , is aggressively working to undo many of those same regulations at the EPA, where he is an assistant administrator in charge of issues including climate change, smog and power plants’ mercury pollution.”

“Wehrum’s past role as a utility lobbyist is well-known, but the documents reveal never-before-disclosed details of how extensively his old firm, formerly called Hunton & Williams, worked to coordinate the power industry’s strategy against the Obama administration’s regulations. Twenty-five power companies and six industry trade groups agreed to pay the firm a total of $8.2 million in 2017 alone, according to an internal summary prepared in June of that year — less than three months before Trump tapped Wehrum for his EPA post.”

–> Multiply this activity by thousands of lobbying firms spending billions to sway elected officials. Even worse, a large number of elected officials who leave office sign on with the same lobbying firms. One can make an assumption that there are three houses in Congress: The Senate, the House and the Lobby. This has led to an election process that allows only the most financially endowed individuals to campaign. Saying what sounds good to local voters, often these vows vanish immediately upon taking office.

There is an exceptional class of House representatives in the 2018 election. It will be interesting to see how they change under the pressures of fund raising as a first priority. Plutocracy is well-rooted today.

Another topic related to this post is the control of corporations over international investment, market and national solvency. Rational taxation of these multinational organizations does not exist.

Add corporatism to the pile of unsettling transitions in economics and cultural values that tumble around us.

  • If the percentage of citizens who vote regularly were 90% instead of 47%, corporatism would be controlled.

  • If a new set of legislative and election regulations were established to severely limit private donations, genuine community advocates could run for office; the House of Lobby would be limited to public debate instead of hidden pay-offs.

Ancient Mariner