Visiting Nova

Mariner visited his newly born granddaughter for the first time yesterday. Ever since he was four years old he has developed a reputation for speaking of newborns with ignorant, perhaps unwarranted, certainly not accommodating remarks when viewing babies. Just one example will suffice: mariner’s father was a Methodist preacher. A proud set of parents showed off their baby after a Christening; many of the congregation were awing an oooing the baby and the new parents were bursting with pride. Mariner was eleven. With genuine innocence, he said, “He looks like a turtle.” Afterward, his father educated mariner on the rituals of socially required etiquette. As he looks back on that incident, mariner feels doubly bad because he placed the child in the same category as Mitch McConnell.

In this regard, mariner has not matured. His comments always are intended with genuine, gracious intent. So as he walked down the driveway to greet his son and family, mariner sees the proud daughter-in-law waiting to greet the grandparents; she is holding an armful of blankets and other swaddling clothes – no baby to be seen – mariner says with a disarming tone and happy grin, “Is that laundry or is there a baby in there?”

Nova is a marvel to see. She is so tiny. Her color and bombastic nature are in excellent form; all the physical appurtenances are present. Fortunately, or unfortunately, her parents and both families are riddled with an intellectual bent. Mariner feels however, that Nova will be up to the task.

One wonders how humans have overpopulated the planet given the odd and risk laden process of giving birth. When observing other species, one is aware that birth is quick and the newly born can walk immediately. Birds are willing to leap off a towering nest into adulthood in only a week or two. Any young one hatching from an egg must engineer its own birth and survive on its own merits immediately. Then there are the species with pockets, or sometimes mouths that serve as nurseries. Typically, Homo sapiens has the hubris to say, “We’re doing it differently.”

Nova was born a year before her physical abilities are prepared for such an alarming transition. Humans decided to require a head too big to pass through the mother’s pelvis so the baby must be born when only half the preparation for facing the outer world has been accomplished.

The baby’s tools for survival are a horrendous screeching that cannot be ignored. The child makes it clear this new environment is not to its liking. Further, it insists on being attended to the point of diaper management, which all fathers must endure.

Referencing a recent post about the term ‘grandfather,’ it is quite obvious as mariner and his wife visit Nova, that all that is required of a grandfather is a nice picture to hang on the wall and stay out of the way. It doesn’t bother mariner at all – he knows he is a member of the hall of fame.

Ancient Mariner


Whence the Next Religion?

Throughout mankind’s current history, that is, since about 10,000 years ago, some form of religion has guided culture’s behavior. Even in the days of Cybele eight millennia ago, the original mother of creation represented a need by Phrygians (Eastern Turkey) to have a bond with something beyond human capabilities.

Western civilization combined religious mandates with civil mandates creating theocracies that clearly were oriented toward human and governmental desires but nevertheless acknowledged ethics, morality and theology in their courts of justice. Sudan, Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and especially Rome spread Christianity/Civil Rule into Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and to the northernmost lands of Scandinavia. Even Russia depended on the Russian Orthodox Church from time to time.

But as Cybele lost the power of her myth, so, too, over time, Moses, Jesus, Paul and Augustine have paled as the powerful Christian and Hebrew mythic theology is confronted by time and knowledge.

Most telling is the separation of Church and State across the West. Always integrated in the past, modern constitutions and governmental ethics continually expand the civilian control of culture while excluding the moral authority of religion. It is a common opinion that the preferred religion is capitalism.

While practiced in the manner of a religion, Capitalism fails as an extra-human force that promotes ethical principles and meaning to individuals as a species, as individuals of common value, as an engine of virtue rather than wealth.

As mankind enters the new millennia, it enters without a true religion. Certainly Christian and Hebrew practices and beliefs still prevail but in a weakened state. Civility is not a central force today – especially in government – perhaps unaccustomed to managing culture without religion.

Whence the next religion?

One can take hope in the continuous improvement of special interest organizations. Everything from environmental organizations to racial and alternative living groups to human rights groups to equality of life groups are organized, funded, active, and importantly beginning to bring ethics and morality back into civil life. Humans are beginning to realize that today the onus is on them to sustain a quality culture – a function that was the role of the church in times past.

But what of Moses? What of Jesus? What of God? How must Christians breathe life back into the Holy Trinity?

We must create a new myth that unifies mankind with something beyond human control.

Ancient Mariner


As Guru prepares for his Flight

Before Guru leaves on his flight around the world, mariner asked him for a few markers that may be too imminent for a long study of the world’s circumstances. He commented on a few while he dressed in his flight suit:

It was Hugh Kingsmill who said, “A nation is only at peace when it’s at war.” In history, most top-of-the-bunch empires felt this way. With luck, world wars could be behind us as globalism evolves. Nevertheless, today there is a heightened spirit in the world community that longs for a war to resettle things. Clean the closet of old rivalries and international unrest due to major errors in the past similar to the Sykes-Picot treaty that ignorantly redefined borders in the Middle East in 1916. Donald and Kim are a test case to determine whether war is still needed to resettle things.

Around the world, wealth and economic wellbeing are available to fewer and fewer. From somewhere, humanist behavior must readjust the phenomenon of money, how it is assimilated, leveraged, and distributed. This is a looming threat to the United States and other nations where governments turn their head to allow oligarchical culture.

In the long history of Homo sapiens sapiens, an element of tribal sharing has waxed and waned: are all humans worthy of their birthright? Are they to be cared for during stressful times? Conservatives say no and liberals say yes. This is an unresolved philosophical point that may in its own right supersede nationalism, authoritarianism, capitalism and socialism as a form of survival. Today, September 24, 2017, there are 842 million individuals around the world who suffer from malnutrition. That’s 12.5% of the world’s population. We have witnessed the results of prolonged hunger in Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Chad, and more; it leads to war and destruction of any capable government. Recovery does not follow.

As the world moves toward a new global reality, opportunity will exist to pursue both avarice and restitution. The news media does not cover the issue of sharing as a political philosophy but it is a real war of its own.

The last comment from Guru dealt with the role of the United States in the world:

For nearly 200 years, the United States has speculated on similarities with the Roman Empire. Now it is time to speculate on similarities with Ancient Greece as it mastered esoteric reality but simultaneously fades as Rome becomes dominant.


Ancient Mariner


A Look from Space

Having Donald in one’s life is like having fleas. Donald is similar to fleas because he is everywhere, in everything, constantly irritating, and a handheld disinfectant is too little too late – that is, erase one flea and two dozen take its place. Consider the content of national news . . .

Also similar to fleas, Donald is a carrier of serious disease. At the moment, a sign of a worldwide contamination is visible. Unfortunately, Donald is like the boy in the plastic bubble, a movie made in the 1970’s about a boy with no immune defenses. Donald’s damaged psyche, racist proclivity and his propensity for immoral behavior are protected from outside criticism by a steel ego and, importantly, by any need for compassion.

Also unfortunate, Donald has become President at a moment when the entire world’s politics, economies, international ethics and order of national prominence all are at a crossroad. Donald, with immense damage to the United States across the board, has pulled the nation out of the world contest and back into an era of nationalism and racism reminiscent of colonialism if not the Civil War itself – in less than 200 days in office.

The effect of Donald for those who want broad perspective on the state of nations and economies is a disabling storm cloud that prevents a view of the horizon. Mariner has commissioned Guru[1] to hire a U2 spy plane to fly at altitudes where fleas cannot survive. What is the state of world humanity vis-á-vis politics and economy? Future posts may dabble . . .

Ancient Mariner

[1] To new viewers, mariner is a composite of three alter egos – Chicken Little, who is frightened by everything; Amos, a permanent critic of everything; and Guru, a futurist and generalist of immensely broad interpretations of everything.

US Isolationism is Suicide for the US – Soon!

A tip from fivethirtyeight’s (Nate Silver) website:

$31.4 million – – Russian trade with North Korea doubled to $31.4 million in the first quarter of 2017. Reuters found eight North Korean fuel ships that left Russia ostensibly in route to China or South Korea only to change their final destination to North Korea. [Reuters]

It appears sanctions against North Korea are an iffy tactic. North Korea can be held together by Russia and China alone plus their dependent satellite countries.

Mariner does not believe China and Russia will allow Kim Jung Un to fire a nuclear weapon (under normal circumstances, both Kim and Donald are capable of the most impulsive and most disastrous decision at any time). Mariner thinks, however, that Russia can manipulate Donald enough to prevent Donald from picking up the red phone and launching nuclear war.

The ulterior motive of North Korea and its allies is to further diminish the prestige of the US around the world, advance their own agenda of trade and political dominance, and make the Korean Peninsula unified under China’s influence. In this regard, Kim is just a pawn – similar to Donald’s relationship to Russia. Any military action between the US and North Korea will be devastating to South Korea. Geographically, South Korea will be destroyed before the US can launch any preventive strike. Nuclear weapons, in the big picture, would not benefit Asian plans to control Asia and the Pacific all the way to Australia. Having posited this view, never say never.

Donald’s empty bully rhetoric and his foolish go it alone isolationism leave the US standing at the gate as other nations and international groups are off to the races to reorder power structure for the new global society, global economics, and global prestige.

Here at home, several polls show the Democratic Party has lost support from several liberal organizations. One would expect that 2018 would be a windfall election for the democrats. Better pundits and journalists believe the cause is the party’s inability to paint a picture of the immediate future that its followers can follow. Bernie almost pulled off a third party run; will a liberal third party arise in 2018?

Ancient Mariner

Let’s Visit Economics

The intense distraction swirling around Donald masks economic reality. Mariner has gathered some insights from expert observers of the economy who pretty much are not swayed by the soap opera involving Donald and Congress, Donald and Russia, Donald’s cabinet secretaries, Donald’s White House staff, Donald’s racism, and Donald’s petty tweets.

To provide some parameters, what is important over the next ten years is growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the dollar value of all US production. Also important is the 19 trillion dollar national debt – especially as it relates to growth in GDP. The third parameter is government income, that is, the tax structure and whether it is fair and sufficient.

Finally, as an indicator, the trade balance between nations is changing. We are accustomed to measuring plus and minus trade balances between each nation. For example, Donald cites trade balances between the US and Mexico or Canada or China. The future will be driven by global economics instead of national economics. This means that trade balances will be relative to global markets and how the trade balance is distributed among nations participating in a given global market. In principle, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between nine nations is an example of how trade agreements will be developed in a world of global markets; one of the key negotiations is how to distribute each nation’s role among other participating nations to assure a viable trade balance for each nation.

So we know the ways to measure US economic health going forward: Establish policies that encourage growth in US production, establish policies that constrain further indebtedness as a ratio to the growth of GDP, restructure taxes to underwrite the costs of future growth, and restructure US trade agreements to accommodate global participation.

What are the issues that interfere with the goals implied above?

The single largest block to improving GDP is the US demographic profile. Like Europe and Canada, the US population is aging rapidly. 60 percent of the workforce will be retired by 2030. Retirees do not contribute to GDP; rather, they become a drain on resources needed to grow GDP. The solution is an aggressive immigration policy. As long as our government pursues a nationalist policy of racial isolationism, we are cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Next in importance is something called monetary policy. Basically, this means we allow the Federal Reserve to control interest rates and the cost to banks for borrowing money. This practice protects the US economy from recessions but it also limits the amount of money available to encourage growth in GDP. If the US is to underwrite an improvement in infrastructure, Congress must set legislation in place to allow private industry to borrow against future growth. The political issue is on whom tax increases will be imposed to create the funds.

Associated with the tax issue is to find a way to increase profit margins in small businesses. The problem now is that large corporate entities want in on this deal. Hence the desire of the GOP to impose massive tax cuts to the most profitable sector of the US. Also associated is a need to close tax loopholes and offshore avoidance of taxes.

Easily addressed in this post, the politics of achieving economic goals is massive. The importance of the 2018 election cannot be overstated. Our antiquated Congress is not prepared for economic success.

Ancient Mariner

Heaven is Taking a Beating

Way back in time, before mariner was a grandfather, he worked for a living. He had an interesting job as a consultant who designed computer system upgrades for large corporations then developed the project parameters for accomplishing that upgrade.

It was a busy job that had a lot to do with stress, timelines and budgets. Consequently, for a number of years in January, mariner would take the family sailing in the Caribbean Sea – specifically up and down the Lesser Antilles. Mariner often has said that the Lesser Antilles is where Heaven touches the Earth.

But storms have taken a devastating toll on the northern group of islands, the Leeward Islands. Most of us know about major islands like the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands but there are many dozens of smaller islands that virtually are uninhabitable at this point. Populations on these small islands always have been fragile and originally consisted of Arawak and Carib Indians who migrated from South America. During the period 1990-2000, there was fascination and joy in sailing to various islands to discover differences in dialect, cuisine, and subtle, unsophisticated economies. The islanders mariner met then were survivors of centuries of brutal colonialism beginning with Columbus and the Spanish invasion in the early 1500’s. Even today, most islands are protectorates of many European nations and the United States.

Sadly, at least to mariner, a new age of colonialism has invaded the Antilles from Puerto Rico to Granada: tourism. Over the past twenty years wealthy folks have purchased whole islands, destroying the cultural uniqueness of those islands. Further and even more damaging to uniqueness, large tourism corporations like cruise ships and spas (one example is Sandals) buy up habitable portions of islands thereby completely wiping out Carib culture.

When mariner sailed the Lesser Antilles, there was a sense of experiencing a natural bond between nature and humanity. Though meager, the islands were balanced in the needs both of humans and the island ecology.

Mariner finds it painful to watch the cruise ship and spa advertisements on television. It is profane. It is an artificial and ecologically expensive reality that humans continually create. It is arrogance and disrespect.

The new rule is, whether technologically or economically, just because you can do it, you must do it.

It’s not mariner’s rule but he’s a grandfather now; He isn’t in the game anymore.

Ancient Mariner

Mariner became a Grandfather today

Her name is Nova. It is a celebration by the family, definitely a high point of the year. Many acts of recognition and admiration will occur this year and many years to come.

Mariner has mixed feelings about the term ‘grandfather.’ In Japan there is a practice wherein old, wise men – elderly judges, politicians, heroes and the like – are recognized, indeed revered for their wisdom and leadership. With great ceremony they are elevated to special stature where their wisdom can be available to the society when needed. Trouble is, no one ever asks them anything. In reality, they are removed from participation in daily life. Perhaps too much wisdom spoils the pot…

The US has a term ‘grandfathered in’ originally used to exempt poor voters from new restrictions on voting during Reconstruction (still occurring). The term is used when something is out of date but because it is difficult to ignore or dismiss, it is included with a newer topic that really is about something else. So it is that mariner has been grandfathered in.

Readers are familiar with the sport equivalent called the Hall of Fame. Very much like the Japanese version, outstanding athletes are given a high court send-off to revered photograph galleries – implying if not actually saying, “You can’t play well anymore but we remember when you could.” No one ever drafts these sport heroes for a current game.

One conjures that in earlier civilizations where an extended family of several generations constituted a tribe or band, the older wiser men were revered and central to the function of the organization. Alas, this is not the case. Note this quote from the Behavioral Sciences Department, Palomar College:

“… Band leaders generally have temporary political power at best, and they do not have any significant authority relative to other adults. They can give advice and propose action, but they do not have the formal authority to require others to accept their decisions.”

So mariner is a grandfather. He needs to find an acceptable photograph for the family Hall of Fame.

That is as it should be. The most important item is Nova – the new generation, the new hope, the new future participant in human society – Nova, mariner’s new granddaughter.

Mariner advises his son – one day he will be a grandfather.

Ancient Mariner

Mississippi River – An Insight into Harvey and Global Warming


A past post spoke of the Mississippi River in natural terms. The River is a vast flood plain worthy of an unrestrained course without canyons, gorges, and other constraints. Typical of many rivers in the Midwest, it is a mud-bottom river that ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, floods and runs low. Its job is to be the drain for excess water from sixteen US States; its main tributaries are great rivers in their own right: The Wisconsin River, Minnesota River, Iowa River, Des Moines River, Illinois River, Missouri/North Platte Rivers, Arkansas River, and Ohio/Tennessee Rivers – among many other secondary tributaries that would add another dozen states to the Mississippi’s flood plain.

If one has the opportunity to visit the River, or better, live near it, one cannot escape an awareness of something that transcends humankind. It is the byproduct of a two million year ice age that ended ten thousand years ago. Even the least interested person readily sees flood plains that reach for miles on both sides. Wildlife depends on the River as much as humans and suffers – if not becomes extinct – when dams, levies, eliminated estuaries and chemicals are forced upon the River. Piling on is the massive abuse by real estate development within the River’s flood plain.

The human violation of a sacrosanct member of the biosphere has a price: the river floods every year, some years more than others. Yet humans are allowed to build homes, factories, roads and estuary-destroying flood walls at great expense to themselves while the River regularly ignores this folly and destroys most of it at great cost to industry, economics, and the private lives of thousands of families. At the delta of the River where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fights an ongoing war with the River from massive fossil fuel plants to the fact that one cannot bury loved ones in the ground – the caskets have a way of rising to the surface in flood conditions.

– – – –

The Mississippi River is an excellent example of how nature ignores the ambitions of Homo sapiens sapiens. True, the River suffers ignoble abuse but continues with its job of draining flood waters from half of the contiguous United States. The River is an example of how nature will have its way regardless of human disrespect. Now Harvey has visited the coast of Texas. The loss of life, industry, possessions, and survival for years to come is on a scale of 10,000 times the conflict along the Mississippi River.

That hurricanes are an expected imposition on life and human ambition is not the issue; the storms are growing larger and stronger according to NOAA statistics. Several storms have set new records in the past three years. Mariner will not engage in the argument about global warming. Science has proven time and again in overwhelming ways that the Earth is warming. Of importance to humans and many other species, are two factors: the temperature of air and water on the planet is rising – the result is increased energy in weather systems – enough to permanently alter jet streams. Secondly, one of the major causes of warming is excessive carbon, which acidifies oceans and retains heat in the atmosphere. Both factors cause the melting of ice and permafrost in the Polar Regions which will raise ocean levels as much as nine feet in this century at a rate of 1-3 inches per year.

Now one can see the similarities between the Mississippi River and ocean fronts: flooding, irrecoverable cost, and humans, being as belligerent and persistent as they are, losing any battle when the biosphere decides to ignore human hubris. Living along the Mississippi, we have experience dealing with the biosphere. It foretells future life along the coasts of the world’s oceans. A future life that will submerge masses of land similar to Florida and includes the two dozen largest cities near ocean fronts, including New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. One can argue that New Orleans has been flooded for some time.

Will our governments respond properly with regulations and zoning? Will capitalism be set aside to accommodate the enormity of the situation?

Ancient Mariner