Notices

Mariner is a noticer. While watching poor broadcasting content on television, he is prone to dissecting the tiniest elements of advertisements looking for irrelevant but irregular details. The most common error is lack of continuity between different takes of the same scene. His favorite commercial is two young men obviously from a low income neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA. They are espousing the wonderful Philly steak sandwich that is a trademark of Philadelphia. As they speak, there is only the tiniest relationship to English. Their elocution is so bad and is subject to colloquial expression that one cannot understand a word they are saying. Mariner misses that commercial.

He mentions this because though not intended as such, ‘noticing’ can be prudish. He used to be a prude about language. For example, during his teen years, pop music shifted from lyrics that were understood to lyrics that were no more than vowel slurs. Today, the art of incomprehensible lyrics is an art form of its own competing with the lyrics of opera. Elocution, along with cursive legibility, long have been absent from our education syllabus.

Further, mariner is an advocate of having a large lexicon, which is having lots of words at hand to provide specificity and nuance in writing and conversation. He is a fan of George Carlin who believed there weren’t enough words; George pointed this out by focusing on seven ‘unacceptable’ curse words whose meanings were specific emotional expressions that could not easily be replaced by acceptable words. Still, mariner has noticed that easy elocution displaces standard elocution. It has taken years of explanation from his philologist friend Robert to accept that language is subject to changing convenience both written and spoken. He and mariner often exchange colloquialisms like ‘skoeet’ – a full sentence.

One of the most entrenched changes that separates written language from spoken language is the word ‘wud’. For clarification, mariner will use it in a sentence: “Wudjoodo?” Still not sure? How about “Wudydo?”

Oh well, don’t blame prudishness, blame old age. Mariner grew up in a low income neighborhood. It wasn’t until he was sixteen when his father moved the family to a middle class town that mariner realized he said ‘nuffin’ instead of ‘nothing.’

A final thought about cursive. It is truly obsolete. Internet based communication has established a new age where letters, if one must use them, are intensely abbreviated (widely known example: LOL). Letters can be avoided if one chooses to create a glyph. We do the ancient Egyptians proud (We haven’t discussed grammar).

Only recently we have seen that chickens can learn to peck simple decisions. So can smartphone users.

Ancient Mariner

 

Governments and Citizens – Who Maintains the Norms?

Maybe too often mariner addresses circumstances about the future of mankind. Typically, the circumstances are beyond the focus of contemporary politics and culture. Nevertheless, the future presents dilemmas about which we are unaccustomed and we fail to recognize their importance in a timely manner – let alone prepare to deal with them as current political situations.

Even at this moment, the United States is struggling. It is struggling because we are not prepared to deal with global issues that did not exist when our Constitution was created. Suddenly, our leadership among world nations seems inadequate. Why?

In just a few years the attitude of the American Citizen has changed from tolerance to intolerance. Congress suddenly is drawing attention from its constituents. The Presidency has been struck a fateful blow by a wary and vulnerable electorate. Populism has emerged. The American Citizen senses a change in the wind.

Speaking in broad terms, eighteenth century capitalism is insufficient to support the moral obligations of global society. As corporatists and oligarchs leverage international markets which did not exist before the Internet and as data storage capacity expands to unimaginable size, common citizens are left behind in shrinking, community-based markets and economies whose norms, ethics and responsibilities are irrelevant to global economics.

When mariner was a much younger man, he lived near a small town in rural Pennsylvania. A town business, not very large as businesses go but the largest employer in the area, closed. Mariner stood looking at the empty buildings one day wondering why the business owners didn’t sustain their community responsibilities – they owed the town. If the business failed, go into another business; if it was a single-owner business, why not sell it to the community? The point was that the business owed the community something. Certainly the community gave to the business through its workers. The region’s economy failed. The personal obligations of commerce were ignored. The town be damned. Tough luck, folks.

Today, it isn’t a small business in a small town. It is Ford, Aetna, A.G. Edwards, 3Com, Amazon.com, Bank of America, Black and Decker, Cooper Tire… thousands of businesses. Leveraging modern technology, even if the business does not relocate to another country, it outsources jobs overseas or operates out of tax haven countries. These options are new because of computerization. These options have no ties to small towns or big cities or a community’s expected norms. And, to their benefit, corporations and oligarchs are no longer constrained by one nation’s regulations or one nation’s economy or one culture’s expectations; that means they are beyond the imposition of unions, worker benefit regulations, labor regulations in general and especially even paying taxes to support any national activity that may be of benefit to the nation or its people.

The governments of the United States, Federal, State and local, identify themselves in turn as keepers of the economy, of state-centric solutions to economy, and of infrastructure. None feel obligated to be champions for people – just economies and infrastructure. The citizenry senses a change in the wind but the governments are not addressing human exposure to international and global changes already occurring.

The changing wind is the source of the great schism between conservatives and liberals that exists today. Conservatives want to reduce the role of government, even take it back to the role of government in the middle of the last century. Liberals want to regulate corporations and wealth in behalf of the common man, even to the extent of using the economy as a tool to protect citizenry from new abuses occurring in the global economy. Speaking broadly, it is a conflict between capitalism and socialism. Speaking to readers, neither word is bad but they are different. It’s a question of functionality. Which is needed most to provide shelter for community norms, mores, and sustenance?

Ancient Mariner

 

WAR

So very slowly, so very, very slowly, notable numbers of H. Sapiens realize that war is horrifically expensive in every measurable way. War kills people and makes hard core enemies that can last for many generations.

War destroys commerce. Commerce means the way people live, put food on the table, grow families and sustain community scruples; commerce identifies what is fair and expected in daily life and allows people to fall asleep with dependable, secure expectations.

War destroys history. Not only cultures and ingrained identities but also the physical evidence – the identity and presence of nations, edifices, faiths and myths.

War is expensive. One instrument of war can cost more than a billion dollars. War requires armies that consume immense budgets to house, train and transport.

The problem is that war is easy. One person in a position of relative power can launch a war – an act that is personally gratifying and in victory “justifies” self-worth. Avoiding war is complex and difficult. Avoiding war requires compassion and other sophisticated feelings. The old saying ‘might is right’ isn’t right.

This will be an interesting age as humans struggle with a future that will not have room for war. The cost of war will be too high for the resources at hand. Nations will choose other solutions to preserve resources and global-scale economics – to say nothing about saving lives.

Still, this is no guarantee that lives will matter. The right to life is more than a cultish battle about birth control. It is a great mountain to climb in our species. Do we as Harari[1] suggests, ignore people we don’t need? Let two billion displaced and starving humans die because they aren’t needed?

Or does our species take into account the sanctity of life, of the right to breathe and grow and carry out the life we were intended?

Today, we turn our heads away in disinterest as small armies similar to Boko Haram that wreaks devastation and death on small towns in Nigeria. Are Nigerians not necessary in our future?

Eliminating War will be difficult. Saving lives will be more difficult.

REFERENCE SECTION

Mariner hasn’t referenced Nate Silver’s website, fivethirtyeight.com, in a while. Nate offers a weekly email report for free. The latest is copied below:

—-

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

By Walt Hickey

39 states

According to investigators who spoke to Bloomberg, Russian intrusions into U.S. voter databases and software systems occurred in 39 states. [Bloomberg]

69

Three astronomers spotted two additional moons of Jupiter in images they took looking beyond the planet into the Kuiper Belt. This would bring the number of moons of the gas giant to 69. [Scientific American]

196

Number of congressional plaintiffs — all Democrats — who have joined a lawsuit against President Trump accusing him of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which requires the president to get the OK from Congress before accepting foreign gifts. The suit claims that the president’s financial involvement in his businesses violates the clause. [The Washington Post]

436 percent

Urban areas have tried to cut down on the number of people incarcerated before their trials to reduce the population behind bars, but rural jails haven’t followed suit. The pre-trial detention rate in urban centers has dropped over the past several years, but the rate grew 436 percent from 1970 to 2013 in counties with fewer than 250,000 residents. [Wired]

$4.48 billion

Verizon has completed its purchase of aging internet giant Yahoo for $4.48 billion. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer scored $23 million in severance on the way out. [Business Insider]

If you see a significant digit in the wild, send it to @WaltHickey.

The Morning Story

Donald Trump Is Making Europe Liberal Again

—-

Ancient Mariner

[1] Yuval Noah Harari, a renowned futurist who has provided books, articles, lectures and opinions about how to interpret today’s reality and project the interpretations into mankind’s future. Citing current human behavior, which ignores unneeded people, he believes useless classes of workers will be set adrift in the future.

Coming of Age

Many years ago, when mariner was learning about world religions, he learned that the land called Turkey today in another time was the origin of virtually every political and religious principal in the western world. Even revered early Greek poetry and Greek philosophical wisdom is rooted in the Hittite Empire.

The land of Turkey is also called Asia Minor or Anatolia. Anatolia, the cultural name for the area, has been the intersection of civilizations since the beginning of political organization. Babylonian documents note Hittite dominance in the region as early as the 17th century BC. Anatolia was the first region in the world to use iron tools, transforming its culture from Neolithic to Iron Age. These changes occurred between 4500 and 2000 BC. Given the Hittites existed at least by 1800 BC, we’re talking really ancient history – which is the point of this post, that aside from not assassinating each king to make room for another one, generally speaking, there isn’t much that’s original in politics. The last somewhat original idea was in the 18th century when the United States decided to let the citizenry run the country.

Today there is an urgent need to reinvent human culture; computers are forcing us into the future. We have no choice: we are facing new rules, new attitudes and new definitions, ergo new politics. When iron was mastered, it changed war, it changed agriculture, it changed politics, and it changed day-to-day life.

So here we are 3,800 years later. We suffer the end game of two ages at once: fossil fuel and a stable mammalian age, and the beginning of a new age – not iron, computers.[1]

Simple ways a new computer age will be noticed:

Today in 2017, 40 out of 100 car drivers drive alone. Almost as many use transit. Only 4 in 100 carpool. Some say the electric car will save the single passenger preference. Some say the electric car will be controlled by the highway just as traffic lights control traffic today. Cars using major highways may be little more than a seat, a cab and some wheels and be hooked electronically to the car in front and the car in back. Toot-Toot!

Another option mentioned is that a driver will pick up a specially built car at a depot like Hertz. Otherwise, one can drive the old clunker but not very far before one must take light rail.

Already emerging are neighborhoods or converted small towns that are designed to accommodate all the needs of a resident. Cars will be unnecessary within the confines of the neighborhood. Any storefronts that still exist will deliver to the home. Amazon will provide everything else.

One of the significant changes will be the definition of work. We aren’t making all these computers for nothing! Several books have been written about this subject and every significant magazine has published articles. A common observation is a description of the dream of every human being: independence and financial security. The way computers are taking away jobs, we all may be independent so financial security can’t be based on human labor or clock time. Whence one’s income?

Hmm, will one be able to vote from home? Miracles can happen….

Ancient Mariner

[1] Fossil fuel is widely assumed to be the cause of climate change. Carbon emissions certainly have exacerbated global warming but the planet has its own life to live and is by itself growing warmer. Much more damaging, and far enough along that it is irreversible, is the mammalian issue – caused entirely by human practices of blatantly destroying habitat and over consuming food sources like fish. Compared to air pollution, the ocean is in worse shape. We are living our way to the Sixth Extinction.

Dear Mister Trump

Dear Mr. Trump:

It is hard to steer a boat in stormy seas. The nations of the world, each and every one, are sailing in extraordinarily stormy seas – each and every one including the United States.

It is especially hard for the United States. Intentionally, the nation was founded with importance given to the spirit of freedom and equality – a new perspective on governance by law that evolved over many centuries of European history. The new perspective paid off with the United States becoming the premier nation of the world – the most powerful, the wealthiest, and the leader of all nations. Some say that the golden years occurred in the middle of the last century. Too soon we have discovered these troubled seas.

We learn from history that humans reorganize themselves according to the circumstances at hand. Some say that in a natural environment we are happiest being members of a tribe. But reality drives a hard bargain. Soon humans had to reorganize into territorial kingdoms. After that, problems were too sophisticated for simple kingdoms. Nations had to be formed usually with authoritarian leadership like Russia and Turkey have at the moment.

However, reality now calls the people of the world to smudge the edges of a nation’s independence. Reality calls not for authoritarians, and not for personal riches that temporarily protect the super wealthy. Reality calls for a global mentality because the problems are too big for individual nations to solve.

Collaboration in economics, population management and planetary behavior is the solution today. Nations are linked together according to the issues they have in common. Today, many issues truly are global – no country can stand alone anymore. The Earth is moving into a new planetary age. It will take all of us participating together to survive.

Blog of the Ancient Mariner

 

Arrived.

Ancient has arrived at an intellectual state not unlike running out of gas in the middle of nowhere; or it may be similar to arriving where one intended but there is nothing to be found; or it may be like arriving in a country ready to have a rich experience but no one speaks your language or cares to communicate.

In a word, Mariner, as Amos before him, euphemistically is retreating to shepherd his sheep.[1] The works of Amos in the Old Testament show that he was influenced by a very large Earthquake (8.0) that occurred north of Israel around 760BC. Amos 3.13-15 states the view of Amos about the collapse of the world:

13 “Hear and testify against the House of Jacob,” says the Lord God, the God of Hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great house shall come to an end,” says the Lord.RSV In further verses, Amos makes it clear that no one will survive God’s wrath.

Today, we have no impending earthquake that will end civilization; perhaps a volcano may but none of the major volcanoes are due for thousands of years. Nevertheless, something is happening because God’s wrath has begun and moves ever faster.

 

The Dark Age

The model which defines the relationship of the present era to its future is the model of the Dark Ages, which lasted from the fall of Rome to the early years of the Middle Ages (450AD – 1000AD). It was a time when the social structure and ethic of the known western world had fallen into disarray. Governments (and the Church) disavowed responsibility for the underclass and anyone, for that matter, who could not participate in authoritarian power or its oligarchy. In that time, the general public lived a truly impoverished and brutalized life. The wealthy did not feel obligated to care about common folk. Food was scarce and never adequate; disease ran amok; the simplest barter economy was impossible because of abusive taxation; one third of all children died before age five; adults had an average life expectancy in the thirties; common land, where the populace lived, was treated as a permanent war zone where the powerful played constant war to improve personal power and wealth.

Does this sound relevant today?

The characters are the same. The failing cultural morality seems not to be restrained. War with inadequate purpose seems rampant. Governments ever increasingly seek to avoid responsibility for the growing underclasses. The Church lingers in the twentieth century with very little influence on twenty-first century society.

But ‘God’ is not waiting for an ultimate collapse. Even as the US Government denies the reality of global warming, the Earth is moving on to an environment that may not be suitable for humans. It certainly is not suitable for other species. Global leaders and the wealthy may grudgingly recognize that ocean levels are rising enough to be a nuisance. They do not acknowledge that as the Arctic Ocean and its accompanying permafrost melt, a rise of ocean levels to several feet is projected by the end of the century and that will not be the end of it – rising further in future centuries.

The weather is changing as well. The warming oceans evaporate unmeasurable amounts of water into the atmosphere – causing larger and more damaging weather patterns as well as drought zones that occur seemingly without reason.

‘God’ does not patronize authoritarian and otherwise imbalanced societies that disregard simple moral behaviors – behaviors that have deep genetic roots in a species with strong tribal social structures. The current US government reminds the mariner of a group of people grabbing as much wealth as they can before the end comes. ‘God’ will not be deterred.

There are too many humans. Far too many. Why is this? Give credit to man’s inventive abilities which produced the Iron Age, Industrial Age, the Fossil Fuel Age, the Technological Age and the current Age of Automation. Were humans still bound to the nature from which they evolved, there is no question that nature itself would oversee disproportional population. Man often is his own demise.

Even at this moment the US is fading from its leadership of the modern world. China understands global economics and is investing in newly defined trade and financing relationships with other countries that will ease transition from the twentieth century era. The US is doing its level best to return to cultural and fiscal values as they existed in the mid-twentieth century. True, that was the golden age but nothing escapes entropy.

Aside from the biosphere, world economies must change in concept if any country is to survive financially and culturally. Most critical is the relationship between jobs and income. The eight hour work day began in 1856. Accompanied by a concept of hourly wage, it has been the core device for redistribution of wealth ever since. But its role in the economy is waning. If the world population is to survive in any quantifiable measure, job and wage must be separated.

Mariner is confident that we approach dark times. Dark times will prevail longer than we will like; let’s hope not as long as the model from the Middle Ages – 550 years. For the last four years, mariner has probed endless subjects, admonished many for lax insight, and promoted newly required ideas drawn from modern but ignored commentary. Were that we could describe the collapsing world; perhaps even glimpse the edges of our dissolution as we can see the edge of a storm cloud – but each of us is an integral piece of the storm…. We are the storm.

We, the electorate, are the storm and we have no intelligence with which to steer ourselves to pleasant weather. The human species denies several global issues that may well end as Amos predicted.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Apocryphal works say that Amos was killed by the son of Amaziah, priest of Bethel. It further states that before he died, Amos made his way back to his homeland and was buried there.

Entropy or Birth?

Is the state of the US government at an end – the final entropy? Or is it, with the broiling confusion and unrestrained energy of the electorate, a new beginning – the pains of birth?

As an undercurrent, not often recognized by purveyors of ideas, news and speculation, the question of entropy or birth drives their reports. The choice cannot be answered with a game of darts or a debate fueled by boiler makers. It cannot be answered by overanalyzing nonsensical events or by a twelve-member pundit team on CNN. It cannot be answered by the very Congress that will live or die depending on whether the answer is entropy or birth.

Entropy is a measure of dissonance or deterioration; simply, it is a form of decay. For example, a newly built house has little entropy but as the years roll by, the house suffers the ravages of time and abuse; it can be said that the house has growing entropy as it ages. The idea that entropy can only travel in one direction – the demise of energy and organization over time – is why physicists use the amount of entropy in matter to measure its age. Based on the low amount of entropy in the universe, scientists consider our universe to be young.

In a temporary sort of way, entropy can be reduced by injecting energy or new structure into the object. Continuing the house example, if the owner paints the walls, replaces the roof, installs a new furnace, the owner is reducing the amount of entropy – temporarily. Entropy will continue to grow and as a last, final state of entropy, the house is in disarray and useless.

Returning to the open question: Is the US government in the final throes of entropy or is the amount of energy and commotion the beginning of a new government? Mariner believes we don’t know yet. The present administration certainly is introducing massive amounts of dissonance and disorganization. The present Congress is saturated with entropy.

The measuring point will occur in the 2018 election. If afterward Congress continues in republican hands and, God forbid, the current administration is still around, we can say that the US government is in the final stages of entropy. On the other hand, if the electorate chooses to infuse energy and new organization with the election, we can say the US government is giving birth to a new structure.

Using the Universe mentioned earlier, it has changed dramatically day by day. The US is losing to other nations, economies and concepts of global government.

Care to live in a ramshackle house?

 

 

REFERENCE SECTION

Just to point out the cultural confusion that reigns in our nation, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is an advocate of profit-based education. Meanwhile, the State of Tennessee, a no income tax state, has built a community college free to all comers regardless of their educational status or age. So which is it? DeVos sponsored or state sponsored?

Ancient Mariner

 

Belt and Road

Something which has not been covered very well by American press is a China initiative (including Russia’s participation) called Belt and Road. The term does not mean much in terms of the objectives. It is China’s way of attempting to avoid an economic crisis in the near future.

In concrete terms, the Belt and Road initiative is an immensely ambitious development campaign through which China wants to boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond. It hopes to do so by building massive amounts of infrastructure connecting it to countries around the globe. By some estimates, China plans to pump $150bn into such projects each year. In a report released at the start of this year, ratings agency Fitch said an extraordinary $900bn in projects were planned or underway.

China is struggling to find an economic solution to many problems looming as the world moves to a global economy. The US faces similar issues. Whatever the US faces, multiply the problem by 1000 to understand China’s issues.

Nevertheless, the planet’s occupants are at a crossroads. Too many assets are locked within oligarchic structures where they are of no use to the world’s population. Corporations are sucking dry the profits of an antiquated economy based on labor. Human population continues on its path to 12 billion by 2200. Whatever economic theories carried us through the industrial age and the early technological age, they will not suffice to manage the near future of a global economy. In personal terms, everyone faces a diminished future.

We are dependent on leaders with modern insights, modern ethos, and modern rules of existence. The US cannot face this alone. For the first time, all nations must rise above personal and corporate desire for wealth and create an international government that determines the distribution of assets around the world. Frankly, there are just too many people.

Check out Belt and Road. It is China’s way of confronting the very issue that the US must face but ignores. The current administration sets the US at an extreme disadvantage; time is of the essence.

There are plans for pipelines and a port in Pakistan, bridges in Bangladesh and railways to Russia – all with the aim of creating what China calls a “modern Silk Road” trading route that Beijing believes will kick start “a new era of globalization”.

REFERENCE SECTION

The mariner grew up in Baltimore; many of his friends and relatives still live there. Edgar Allen Poe is a Baltimore icon. His afterlife is haunted and mysterious aficionados leave gifts. Nevertheless, Edgar is a famous poet in the hall of poets. Mariner need only say, Quoth the Raven, ‘Nevermore.’ He reread “The Raven” with more pleasure than he expected and continued on to “Annabel Lee,” one of mariner’s childhood favorites.

However, Poe has another poem, “Eureka,” his last, discounting Annabel Lee which was published after his death. He focused on the cosmology of the universe and described its behaviors in his own vivid style – including a personality for the Big Bang itself. An interesting and pleasant sidetrack – especially if you like Edgar Allen Poe.[1]

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] See: https://aeon.co/essays/edgar-allan-poe-visionary-of-big-bang-cosmology

Drive On.

For several reasons including fuel efficiency, more electric vehicles, and the degradation of tax value because of inflation, the fuel tax at the pump may be on its way out. Ready to pay by the mile? Below is an excerpt from Atlantic Magazine’s ‘city scape’ section.

“The national gas tax has been, for many years, a “third rail” for tax-averse Republicans and Democrats alike. Americans pay Uncle Sam 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump, a number that hasn’t budged since 1993 as lawmakers are loathe to levy what many view as a regressive fee.

Every year the Highway Tax Fund drags with it a multi-billion dollar shortfall. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it’ll be up to $18 billion from 2021 through 2026.

Taxing miles instead of fuel better matches the current transportation landscape: This is, after all, an era where technology is rewriting the rules on how people move, and how they relate to transportation.

The mileage fee, or VMT tax—seems to be one whose time has come. The tax reorients the transportation “product” that users are paying for with a philosophy more in step with how people travel now. Simply put, drivers pay for their travel based on a per-mile rate. It’s almost like slapping a toll on every road, except that mileage could be measured and billed based on a low-fi transponder, or a high-tech piece of cellphone gadgetry. Drivers could alternatively pay through a one-time annual fee, if they hate the feeling of being “tracked.”

Mileage fees would still need to be kept up with inflation, but they wouldn’t be sensitive to gains in fuel efficiency. They could also be adjusted to reward environmentally sensitive vehicle choices, and policymakers could send chunks of VMT tax revenues towards transit investments, so the fees needn’t be punitive or regressive.”

– – – –

Hope Exists!

Sometimes, when things are at their darkest, something will occur that renews our hope. Hope is a critical survival tool; without it, life fails, if not ends. Michael Bloomberg (NY ex-Mayor) and Carl Pope (a former executive director of the Sierra Club) bring us a book full of hope. Despite the ravaging of the EPA, the abusive priority for fossil fuels, the cutting of funding for all things reasonable and humane, progress continues to be made. Even the natural forces of supply and demand ignore the Administration’s policy abuses.

The book: Climate of Hope, How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Bloomberg and Pope,

ISBN: 9781250142078

ISBN-10: 1250142075

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: April 18th, 2017

Pages: 272

“We are writing this book because we believe that it’s time for a new type of conversation about climate change.”

The premise throughout is that businesses, cities and market forces are operating independently of the Federal Government. Mayors, in particular, see cost saving technology beyond coal and other fossil fuel solutions; there is more to be gained in local economies if renewable fuels are used – in some cases at near zero cost.

The book documents the surprising use of renewable energy that already exists. All electricity generating plants have converted or plan to convert from coal to natural gas – a program pushed by Barack Obama.

– – – –

Facts.

The mariner’s curiosity noticed that we have created variations of facts. In the past, a fact was a fact, that is, something that physically occurred at a given point in time. Recently, more than one interpretation of fact has become common usage. Why is that?

Of course, the primary reason is that the current administration manages circumstances by lying. That’s a fact. The President will change a lie to fit the situation; Kellyanne Conway is famous for creating “alternative” facts. But it can’t all be blamed on the current administration.

Even before the President campaigned and took office, news programs – all news programs – added pundits and arbitrary experts to their programs. Older folk will remember that Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite didn’t have guests; they just gave the facts as they occurred. The facts were the news. Today, the news can’t be broadcast without panels, experts, even other news anchors that work for the same broadcaster. More often than not, it’s a newspaper’s interpretation of events that becomes the version of facts broadcast as ‘facts.’

The public has become accustomed, if not irritated, by politicians who, without difficulty, can create alternative facts about a fact to the degree everyone isn’t sure what the original fact is. Just ask a democrat and a republican to describe the new health bill pushed through the House. At the end of it all, does any voter know the facts? The facts about what?

Somewhat arbitrarily, the mariner submits a handbook with the different kinds of facts and how to spot them.

FACT. What really happened – no more, no less, no value judgments. More often than one may think, the original fact is difficult to identify. The best way to know a fact is to know the true source and the actual witnesses or creators of the fact. Too quickly, however, the trail cools as pundits, experts and politicians add their interpretations of what the original fact is.

ALTERNATIVE FACT. The interpretations of a fact provided by second and third sources. Commonly in broadcast news, this is everyone who did not have direct involvement when the fact occurred. In the day-to-day world, we call this gossip. An alternative fact is used by anyone with time to kill and someone to listen to their stories – especially if the story teller didn’t like the original fact. Rush Limbaugh actually makes his living this way; Saturday Night Live does, too.

FAKE NEWS (Fake Facts).

This isn’t about the fact itself. This is a term used by an individual to describe facts that are not beneficial to that individual. The administration’s cabinet has been using this phrase to disavow the information gathered by the Departments they intend to eliminate, for example, the EPA information about climate change is fake.

Ancient Mariner

 

Short but large.

Several short notes about extremely important and powerful events.

Three cheers for the French electorate. Hooray and hooray again! Now if we can influence the Brit electorate to think again about Brexit. Leaving the EU with international corporations becoming more and more antigovernment in their ethic is like someone leaving a nice home to find their way in the world with a candy bar and $4.32 in their pocket. True, EU is having the same growing pains as everyone else but there is no better choice. Same goes for NATO, United Nations and other 20th century organizations – except the World Bank and the G7 Economic organization. What most will call income and jobs is a brand new phenomenon unlike anything in the 20th century.

Some psychological advice discovered by the mariner’s wife while cruising the internet: Depressed by the condition of your nation? Frantic? Left with no sense of future?

The solution is to accept the terrible conditions as fact. It is what it is. Stop magnifying anxiety by speculating. Instead, now that you’re dealing with reality, do something about it. There is a reason large numbers of people are protesting, writing their Congressmen, and joining political movements: This reality must be changed and the people are doing something about it. Replace your angst with action. You will have feelings of worthiness instead of helplessness.

Again, the soulless Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are pressing the FCC (now run by Donald puppets) to remove ISPs from Title II of FCC regulations. The FCC announced that it intends to honor ISP requests. The popular term for this is to overturn net neutrality – where no one has the right to interfere with the speed of service – to one where ISPs can charge you for faster service. In a year or two the Internet will be part of the effort to improve US infrastructure. Just as with highways and bridges, the Internet will be much faster and accessible to many more citizens. ISPs already know this and want to charge you for the new Internet speeds even though, under Title II, the Internet already is free to everyone – including you.

The only solution, and this is critical, is for all stripes of users, conservative to progressive, all sit at home and browse users, all students using the Internet, to WRITE AND CALL your Senators and your representative insisting on ‘net neutrality’. Otherwise, this is another issue that will render Congress impotent and simply let Donald’s crew have its way.

These are troubled times for our nation. A voter has more to do than vote – engage in your democratic right to fix things.

Ancient Mariner