The Frontal Lobe versus Planet Earth

The frontal lobe is responsible for abstract thinking. It is the youngest and largest region of the human brain located just behind the forehead. While the rest of the brain abides by the normal mammalian genome adapted to Earth’s biosphere, the frontal lobe of a human brain is not bound by such mundane relationships.

In an exercise to pass time while sheltered, mariner developed an analog which eliminated conflict between humans and the biosphere by stepping backward in history until the conflict had yet to occur. An example everyone is aware of is the fossil fuel conflict. By tracking backwards to the point where the cause (a frontal lobe invention) did not exist, one can deduce the lifestyle, politics and what at that point would be compatible with the biosphere.

Herewith is a summation of the results:











Well, there it is. Humans get in trouble when they let the frontal lobe do its thing without respecting the rest of the simian brain and its agreeable relationship with Planet Earth.

So much for shelter-in-place.

Ancient Mariner


[1] The asteroid just hastened the end of a declining existence for the dinosaurs; Covid-19 tried hard to bring an end to humans but came up a little short. Humans will have to end it on their own.

Open Letter to Trumpers

Dear Working Class Trumpers –

It is understood why you are fed up with government and you elected a disruptive nonpolitician to break things. Break things he did – most of them in the area of citizen fairness but alas, he is part of the money crowd just like all of them. But to set things straight for the future, there are a few events that brought you to your difficult situation.

In the 1970s and 80s, the government changed how corporations could invest; after that businesses made better profits investing than they did in manufacturing so companies began investing in manufacturing in other countries where labor and materials were less expensive. Whole industries like steel, automobiles, home appliances and other factory businesses dwindled or disappeared completely – and so did the jobs.

Then businesses obtained permission to use employee pension money so they could make bigger investments. So as to not look totally sinister, businesses said, “Use this 401k, we’ll kick in up to x percent match”. The businesses failed to mention that the pension system paid 100 percent of your retirement but now, under the 401k, it was your money being put aside for retirement. Not only that, the 401k funds are in your name and are now exposed to the vagaries of the stock market. Pensions were worry free because with pensions the businesses had to invest through their own accounts.

Another pro-labor interference was labor unions. Unfortunately, more states had republican legislators and at the state level government focused deliberately on eliminating unions through government constrictions in labor rights.

And finally, because it was easier to make profit through investment – which freed businesses from social obligation to workers’ wellbeing and sharing of profit, salary was treated like a resource overhead. Consequently, since 1980, salary has not risen with inflation. This is the most damaging action to pursuit of happiness today: A person who made $5.00 per hour in 1981, if salary rose with inflation, should be making $14.00 per hour today. Citizens have a hard time raising the minimum wage from its current $7.25 per hour. Many unscrupulous businesses keep employees under 38 hours per week to avoid paying even as much as $7.25.

But now, Trumpers, Donald has done his damage. It is time to right things and move forward. All the damages listed above were done by republican legislators both state and federal.

Now it is time to elect democrats to repair what Donald has done and what the republicans have been doing for the last forty years.

Ancient Mariner


Snapshots of Transition

Kudos to Ryan Heath (Politico) for the quote of the week: “Life today is like riding a roller coaster in the dark.”

– – – –

In retrospect, it is obvious that it was a terrible cultural shift when broadcasting corporations decided in the 70s that the news is no longer a public service and must be a profit center. The desire to compete for viewer share has burst into flame and has produced a state of affairs where news is not news, it is entertainment and divisive opinion is news in and of itself. More than ever before the public needs to know what is really important news for them – not fake news for advertising dollars. This apparent lack of concern for factual evaluation has led to today’s Internet version, social media and shenanigans the like of Twitter and Facebook. For the best that can be offered, checkout NPR, PBS and NEWSY. If the subscriber prefers reading, try The Economist and The Atlantic. Just as important, consider NOT watching commercially broadcast news.

– – – –

As catalysts of change Covid-19 and cloud technology seem so perfect together that only God could ordain such a pair. Society has learned new social standards much more quickly than otherwise would be the case.


֎ Shelter-in-place provides an early image of future stresses when working from home; the current trend to have a home-based job will only grow – there’s no turning back. It turns out communication in isolation lacks important motivators, astute understanding, emotional commitment and emotional gratification – to say nothing about too much close family too much of the time.

Mariner clusters all these preconscious and subconscious reactions under the term existential. Existential experiences in ‘3-D’ or person-to-person are what shape our feelings, prejudices and is what keeps mental cognizance sharp.

During mariner’s career he had experience both with normal in-person meetings and network links to various locations. There was an obvious difference in the participation by each individual when gathered together than there was over a network which had a dry, matter of fact, okay reaction. Mariner sensed an easier buy-in to a premise over network but the emotional, teamwork attitude was not present.

The desire to relate human-to-human is strong, of course; it’s in our genes. The face-to-face bond is more important than most may think. Using mariner’s personal experience, why does he insist on ordering a hamburger and fries from a clerk instead of pushing buttons; why does his wife prefer, to a noted degree, to shop in person instead of on Amazon? Why is a human explanation accepted more cohesively than an electronic explanation? Make note to observe this new social environment as it progresses.

Guru says this is nothing. Wait until humans aren’t needed at meetings.

Ancient Mariner

Speaking in Metaphor

It is difficult not to focus on the current worldwide crises of economy, pandemic, international politics, global abject poverty, brutal abuses of life and at the center of this swirling storm, artificial intelligence. Not to mention the Planet’s agenda, global warming and climate change.

In the future records of human history, the decades between 1980 and 2050 will be seen as the most tumultuous time in human history. Not that the impact of fire, wheels, electricity, automobiles and technology haven’t had memorable moments but they do not compare to the instantaneous, worldwide shift that the human race is witnessing today.

What is unique to this moment in history is lack of continuity; there is no perceived transition. Typically a change in a social or technical age is singular; everything else in society isn’t changing at the same time so there is an opportunity to plan and adjust. The automobile and the computer are examples in recent history that changed how society operated. But still there were department stores, highways, and general labor that needed only to adjust a little. Even the credit card didn’t change life much despite its significantly different approach to cash flow that certainly changed commerce.

An old metaphor for stepping into the unknown is the image of standing on a high cliff preparing to jump. But today, is it a cliff? Perhaps one stands at the foot of a cliff. Perhaps one suddenly will have the ground fall away. Who knows? Insight into tomorrow is limited.

Another metaphor to see into the future would be looking at one of those posts that tell which direction important landmarks are and how far away they are. Trouble is no one recognizes any of the destinations; the sign is useless and a bit scary. How does the world get from here to there?

The sense that the ground is falling away isn’t too far off the mark. Those department stores of the twentieth century are disappearing faster and faster and Covid-19 has expedited the process; fast food restaurants would rather a customer punch a few buttons for lunch rather than have a short conversation with another human who actually relates to what one says; smartphones have reduced human conversations, thereby eliminating the existential experience normally provided, replacing it with texting; for many income, expense, debt and investment are not hands-on sensations.

But it is more than daily habits. There are eight significantly populated islands that have only a decade or two before they vanish beneath the oceans. Cities on seafronts that represent one fourth of the world’s commerce will have to pick up their skirts and relocate or drastically reduce urban society.

Imagine that every nation in the world is a sailing vessel. Politics represents the power supply. All the vessels are old and worn; the power supply stops and starts and coughs, never providing the power surge required to master the wind and waves. Fuel consumption dedicated to progress leaks profusely. In this era of change with its hurricanes, tsunamis and wind storms, society has no choice but to feverishly rebuild or replace inadequate vessels. Rebuilding is delayed by bewildered citizens causing populism, authoritarianism, oligarchy and war; they cause confusion and delay. Who has a plan? No one, really. Some nations are lucky to be on an economic upswing for the moment but no nation can begin to describe their final destination or set a course to arrive or design the best sailing vessel to get there.

What is emerging very slowly, much slower than Earth’s seasons, is sustenance. Sustenance is like packing an extra sandwich in case things change. Sustenance means don’t be frivolous with what’s at hand – one may need it later. Sustenance means be careful not to cut one’s self in case one is a hemophiliac. When the reader thinks about it, the covid-19 drill is an exercise in sustenance – sort of like an internship for the future.

For legislators, sustenance is a new idea. In recent decades legislators have learned to be experts in consumption and hoarding which is different than sustenance. Today, especially in more liberal quarters, legislation talks about sustaining people’s lives and shoring up public support systems, sort of like putting plywood over windows before a hurricane. In the private sector, covid-19 has given the electorate a chance to practice charity and sustaining some semblance of continuity – well, some of them anyway.

So, it is a time when everyone must make absolutely sure to hire the best boat builders that can be had. Sailing into the future requires modern sailing techniques and flexible, buoyant craft. Vote with craftsmen in mind, not fixer uppers.

Ancient Mariner


Evolutionary Change

For those readers who have an interest in the evolution of species on a grand, Earth-time scale, they may have learned that significant changes in the basic form of living things occurs in a relatively short amount of time. A couple of examples: The most significant ice age in Earth’s history lasted from 720-635 million years ago. The ice age caused a complete extinction of single celled flora that thrived on microscopic fungi and dissolved chemicals. As the ice age receded, a new form of life rapidly emerged: diversified plankton, similar boneless creatures and importantly, primitive sponges – the first evidence of the animal kingdom.

Another more popular example is the end of the Paleogene Extinction 66 million years ago when dinosaurs disappeared and the age of mammals literally exploded into the many branches of diversification that are familiar today.

Mariner apologizes for the lesson in paleontology but it sets a clear model for the absolute dissolution of social history as humans have known it since the Roman Empire and now, in the early decades of the twenty-first century a sudden, brand new, seemingly unevolved society – the age of artificial intelligence – is emerging. Thanks to Covid-19, one generation of humans can experience the rapid extinction of the industrial/technical age virtually overnight, leaving a new form of society ready to explode into the future.

The whole premise for future society is different. For example, capitalism is too slow for future society; capitalism has been the core economic philosophy all the way back to ancient times; it’s a horse-and-buggy single flow movement of resources. Cash flows only in one direction and ends up wasted in the coffers of the super-rich. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will redistribute static assets in a flash.

The tight, dark age relationship between work and wage will be separated so that work is an act of participation in society and wage is more related to sustaining an optimized GDP. This allows AI to utilize income as a fluid resource throughout the economy rather than the very slow, piecemeal process of distributing wages to each person one-on-one – another horse-and-buggy process.

The stock market already has acquiesced to the presence of AI. Twenty-nine percent of all transactions are decided by self-learning computer algorithms without human intervention – doubling since 2013.

Although at the moment many social behaviors are in turbulence as the dynamics of change already are shaking things around, new forms will emerge relatively quickly. For example, the bipolar political situation around the world is a sign of pushing out the old and reforming differently. In the US, it is quite plain that the republican concept of capitalism isn’t working well and is on the verge of losing dominance. New economic concepts will be a combination of capitalism, socialism, communism and AI’s philosophy, pragmatism – whatever works best in a market situation is what will set the –ism.

At the personal level and involving emotional comfort, secure identity, sufficient privacy, and the right to human judgment versus AI, things will be sticky. Human feelings and behaviors, bound by genome, don’t fit as smoothly to the bit and byte world of AI as economic policy does. There will be a struggle between the public and the never ending encroachment of AI psychology, Pavlovian control (witness how humans have adapted to smartphones and Alexi) and environmental manipulation, e.g., who can live where and in what kind of housing.

Add to personal uneasiness the issue of race. By 2045 caucasians will be a mathematical minority of US population. This will affect long standing social taboos and class definitions. Worldwide, mariner has mentioned in a previous post that Indians and Chinese will constitute one in every three humans.

And finally, the center of civilization will leave Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Middle East and settle on the boundaries of the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Hemisphere.

Don’t bother packing bags, AI will do that.

Ancient Mariner


If Then

The other day mariner had a conversation with a member of the electorate. This member happened to be a Trumpist. They were complaining about the Fascist state of affairs in the United States because the Government said everyone had to leave jobs, stay home, wear self-deprecating masks, etc. The Trumpist was echoing the popular complaint going around that uses 40,000 car deaths and people can still drive cars . . . why can’t 150,000 deaths occur from virus and people can still work.

Mariner responded in a sympathetic tone that he understood the Trumpist’s sentiments but mariner didn’t understand the Modus Ponens (If–then) logic that relates car deaths to virus deaths. Mariner suggested a different argument:

“A similar argument that relates to the virus constraints would be: The Constitution says all men are created equal but the Government can’t stop me from denigrating black people. Further, the Declaration of Independence says every man has the unalienable right to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so the government can’t stop me from working.”

“But,” mariner continued, “it seems immoral to say just because we let people die in cars that we should also let people die from the virus when, unlike a car accident, death from the virus can be avoided. That’s why the car-virus comparison doesn’t work.”

“You ought to be a lawyer,” the Trumpist said, “and it doesn’t change the fact that we live under a Fascist government.”

Politics can be fun . . . . . and depressing.

Ancient Mariner


About Communism

Communism in the West has been associated with foment, antigovernment vitriol and suppression of the people. Blame this view on Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Joseph Stalin and Senator Joseph McCarthy. Marx and Engels took the bait that Rousseau took during the French Revolution: trying to write a solution to tyranny by doing away with authority altogether.

Conversely, true unadulterated communism existed in Asia for centuries – beyond the intrusion of emperors and warlords – and still does in pockets of the continent. To clear the mind of all the consternation, remember the root word ‘commune’. Many may remember the movement of the hippies in the 1970s when communes supported nearly one million citizens. Today, the commune has reduced itself to one family at a time and is called ‘living off the grid’.

Unlike capitalism and socialism, cash flow doesn’t flow very far. In fact, the less cash the better. If a person visited Taiwan in 1990, their first impression would be that for the seventh richest nation in the world, there seemed to be no money on the streets or in local commerce. Unlike capitalism and socialism, the nation’s wealth came from the citizenry who put away any cash for a rainy day rather than reinvesting in local appearances, AKA classism.

Communism depends on communal participation and is heavily influenced by extended family obligation. Sustainability is the primary objective, not profitability. For example, a specific sauce in China, dou-chi, has been made by hand by the same families for centuries. Recipes can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (200 BCE). Very popular in China today, one would think production of dou-chi would have succumbed to more industrial processes – but not in communist regions where family, labor and product are bound into a tightknit culture that functions with very little cash flow. Sharing to sustain life is preferred to using cash.

Visiting a communist region shows how inconvenient cash really is and probably exists only, as the old story goes, because it is easier than carrying sheep around. One also notices that cash is an expensive commodity to maintain. When the reader thinks of communism, think of off the grid homesteaders – that’s pure communism.

Class and elitism are bad words in communism. Karl Marx even disliked the idea of personal property. Under communism, it isn’t how much property one owns (if one owns any); it’s the contribution to the ‘commune’ which in early millennia was virtually all of China away from cities and sea travel.

As a national philosophy in today’s world, communism couldn’t operate successfully; any trade that occurs between nations isn’t tit for tat because everyone’s trying to make a dollar, not dou-chi. Nevertheless, in the pockets where it flourishes, peace and wellbeing are simpler to achieve.

Ancient Mariner

The Beginning

May 4, 1970 was the beginning of mariner’s disillusionment with all things politic, including the citizens. His skeptical attitude remains with him today. It was the shooting to death of four Kent State college students and wounding of nine others by the Ohio National Guard. These assassins weren’t every day police, who even today can be expected to do such things; these were part of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Laurel Krause, whose 19-year old sister was killed, wrote on March 7, 2014 “It has been 44 years, and the U.S. government still refuses to admit that it participated in the killing of four young students at Kent State. There has not been a credible, independent, impartial investigation into Kent State. No group or individual has been held accountable.”

One can write all the US Constitutions they want; nothing constrains bias, prejudice and bigotry. The reaction of conservatives was that the students deserved it. They were the same bunch that today rebels against shelter-in-place. They were the same bunch that today rapes children while priests. They were the same bunch that today denies human value by denying health care to those who need it. They were the same bunch that today divides Christianity into racist and elitist factions. They were the same bunch that hoards wealth while thousands die in the US from starvation and disease. They were the same bunch that today elected Donald. They were and are the electorate.

Ancient Mariner



Recent developments in South America have upended the United States’ historical — and often misguided — tendency to lump the region into a one-size-fits-all policy. A politically and economically muscular Brazil, the rise of an anti-American bloc of countries led by Venezuela, and the emergence of economic and even political extraregional rivals in the hemisphere have created a more diverse, independent and contentious region for the United States.

But the reports of the United States’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Economically and politically, the U.S. remains the leader in what is admittedly a much-changed, more assertive region. What is now necessary, however, is a long-overdue rethink of U.S. policy toward South America.

Meanwhile, South American countries have not stood around waiting for the United States to fill the resulting void. Economically within the region, the U.S. has been losing market share. In 2011, China replaced the U.S. as the major trading partner for Brazil and Chile. At the same time, China has signed free trade agreements or trade deals with Chile, Peru, Cuba and Costa Rica, while providing a series of concessionary loans to Venezuela and Ecuador. Even Washington’s greatest South American ally, Colombia, has refused to wait, signing a free trade agreement with Canada and launching negotiations for a free trade agreement with China. [World Politics Review]

A mariner fantasy for most of his life is the integration of the two Americas, North and South, and throw in Australia and New Zealand. What a trade powerhouse that would be. One continent is in the northern hemisphere, the other in the southern hemisphere – a boon to 12-month agricultural GDP. South America has oil, too, but it leads in amounts of rare minerals like Lithium. In South America, weather similar to the Gulf Coast is as large as the continental United States. In reference to the last post about the Pacific Rim, ten nations from Mexico to Argentina have coasts on the Pacific Ocean – and China knows it.

Two things interfere with collaboration: social history and racism. The United States has been too interested in the northern hemisphere and its cultural links with old world nations. Europe launched the existence of the United States in 1607. That liaison has run its course as new economic and technical forces are reshaping global economics and international policy.

Mariner doubts the US social image of anything south of Florida has changed since Hemingway lived in Cuba and politically since Castro was the dictator. Even Puerto Rico and Hispaniola get short shrift. Otherwise, as Donald would suggest, they are non-white immigrants. The literary relationship is little more than Carmen Miranda and “Don’t cry for me Argentina.” However, several professional tennis players have been quite successful in the US.

But. The coronavirus has reset the totalizator. Overnight new odds and probabilities have become real and immediate which otherwise would have taken a decade to emerge. Momentarily up in the air is how to deal with world recession; that certainly will have an effect on international relations. The disruption has had social ramifications as well because citizen pressure on governments has forced awareness of how incompetent governments have been at managing the wellbeing of the citizenry. The virus has forced to center stage the indigent, helpless and marginally threatened part of the population and indirectly has highlighted growing plutocracy and corporate greed.

Further, the virus has stopped dead the functioning of the job market. This will allow faster adaptation to artificial intelligence and change the way citizens work almost immediately instead of gradually.

It seems a perfect time to revisit and restructure the US relationship with everything in the western hemisphere below 20°N.

. . . and before global warming really grabs our attention!

Ancient Mariner

Over There . . .

In a desperate attempt to escape the gravity of the Trump-news broadcasting conglomerate, mariner has traveled to distant lands – a part of the planet where Donald is a sideshow. As a straightforward example, note this book review covered in a British news outlet:

“In it Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, highlights an emerging formation on the geopolitical map: the Indo-Pacific, a growing web of alliances centered on the “Quad” of India, Japan, Australia and the US, but also taking in a crescent of maritime states in eastern, south-eastern and southern Asia. Looser and more multipolar than other such formations, it is unified by the quest to balance, dilute and absorb Chinese power. “The Indo-Pacific is both a region and an idea: a metaphor for collective action, self-help combined with mutual help,” writes Medcalf. Two months on from its publication, virtually all of the trends that his book draws together have advanced.”[1]

North America not only has a shoreline on the Pacific, it has been drawn into Pacific Rim activity since the explorer Jorge Álvares reached southern China in 1513.[2] The US involvement in Asia is dominated by wars. Consider: The Korean Expedition 1871, acquisition of Samoa 1898, Spanish American War 1898 and 1913, Boxer Rebellion 1898, World War I 1917, World War II 1939, Korean War 1950, Laotian Civil War 1953, Viet Nam War 1955, 1965, 1974, Communist insurgency in Thailand 1965 and Cambodian Civil War 1967.

As Medcalf points out in his book, things have changed. In the part of the world fronted on the Pacific Rim, China has grown to be a super power in the midst of many smaller nations that easily can be dominated by China. The reader may recall an effort in 2016 called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Twelve nations signed on but the agreement failed to be ratified by the US. The countries were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

The TPP concept of an international trade agreement that assigned an economic role to each nation up front was a new turn in international relationships that heretofore were variable agreements subject to tariffs, internal politics and market activity. Still, many criticized the agreement for allowing business interests to ignore or supersede traditional national rights.

Americans are not accustomed to paying attention to India. However, India is a fellow ‘sumo giant’ along with China[3]. Together, India and China represent thirty-six percent of the world’s population; of every three humans on earth, one of them is an Indian or a Chinaman.

The United States ranks third in land mass and population, but ranks first in GDP at 21.44 trillion. China is second at 14.14 trillion and India is fifth with 2.94 trillion but has the fastest growing GDP in the world.

Mariner hopes his data profile may invite readers to invest time and interest in a part of the world that truly will dominate future centuries regardless of treaties. Already it can be seen that Europe and the Middle East will not have the clout to compete with the Sumo League. For the first time, the center of world civilization may be the Pacific Rim.

In any case, mariner had a great time visiting the ‘other’ world. Donald who?

Ancient Mariner

[1] Indo-Pacific Empire, China, America and the Conquest for the World’s Pivotal Region by Rory Medcalf,    Manchester University Press ISBN: 978-1-5261-5078-3

[2] An interesting side note, a Chinese adventurer named Hwui Shan crossed the Pacific to Mexico in 458 AD.

[3] In 2018, population of China is 41 million more than India. Due to higher population growth of India, margin between these two countries is coming down quickly. And in 2024, India will have more people than China with approximately 1.44 billion people.