The Future is here

Sometimes, modern, up-to-date folks feel like they are at least keeping even with new technologies and new ways of doing things. There’s a bit of hubris in telling Alexa what to do – as if one actually is in charge of the technology and its consequences. Do not be deceived. Computer technology has leaped into the future at the speed of light – literally. has an article about a computer that can foresee the future – all 16 possibilities![1] What staggers mariner’s mind is that data is stored on qubits – a subatomic particle. A quick reference: in the beginning, data was stored by carving into stone; then data was stored on paper by printing presses; then data was stored on tape; then data was stored on disks, all this time leveraging the computer base 2 language of zero and one; then data was stored on magnetic switches; now data is stored on subatomic particles that can be divided and manipulated to predict future events. There is no way mariner can convey how tiny a qubit is.

Without confusing things by discussing quantum mechanics – a valid science that has nothing to do with our sense of reality – mariner will fall back onto Schroeder’s cat. Imagine a cat in a sealed box. Is the cat alive? Yes. Is the cat dead? Yes. As a state of factual reality, alive and dead are both equally true at the same time. It isn’t until one opens the box and measures the situation that alive or dead – it could be either – is true.

If one is truly careful and can open the box with different versions of historical evidence, one can predetermine whether the cat is alive or dead. Hence, foretelling the future. The computer scientists in the article are able to present four variables to the qubit that modify its responses for future processing into sixteen different futures.

Forget history class; take future class.

Ancient Mariner


What can we do about the Base?

The concept of a political whole has existed since Thucydides described the Peloponnesian War. In those days, a political whole was necessary to provide armies for war. Today, a political whole is the same as flour in a bread recipe: it holds a nation together despite endless differences in politics, society, technology, religion, economics, international treaties and the state of the planet itself – all part of the same recipe.

A way to feel the presence of a unified political whole, or unified nation, is to feel national pride. Remember in the old days when the phrase ‘I am an American’ was spoken with sincerity? An obligated feeling is to believe that each individual is America. America is each individual. Joined at the hip to use an old phrase. Alas, today the recipe isn’t working; the bread collapses into useless crumbs and bad tasting pieces.

Throughout history when change was in the air, in fact overdue, the idea of a unified nation no longer sufficed. Populist groups rose in rebellion; today we call it ‘identity politics’ and there are fractious campaigns across the board involving abusive class practices, abusive racial practices, abusive sexual practices, abusive economic practices, abusive corporate practices, political party elitism, and too frequently, a relapse into less than moral respect for the nation itself. The Base is among this list of entities. Why?

Mariner points to the over-capitalization of the US given that its resources have shrunk over time – from that time when an entire virgin continent was at hand to let capitalism generate the profits that it can generate so quickly. But in this century especially, there isn’t enough continent to go around and capitalism still reigns as the economic philosophy. Given less resources, those who garner wealth continue to maintain profits while the common citizen collects less and less over time until things obviously are unbalanced and unfair. The time has come that the common citizen knows their children will be economically disadvantaged.

The common citizen points their finger at Federal and state governments that have let this happen. It is a serious issue; savoir faire does not apply. The election of Donald, a pompous bully who is destructive, is not an issue with the Base. His job is to bring down an unsympathetic government – no love lost.

There are just a few ways a citizen can share profits derived from the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

Investment – For those citizens and corporations that have ‘extra’ cash above normal living and operating expenses, the cash is invested in things like stocks and bonds and various funds or it is invested in business expansion. Today there are some new wrinkles in capitalization; antitrust laws are ignored so very large companies can supersize themselves to sustain market value and increase profits; investment has become an international reality and significant percentages of money are not reinvested in US interests but invested overseas. Having little or no extra cash, the Base does not participate in profit by investment.

Wage and benefit negotiation – At the beginning of the 1900s, there were some bloody clashes and major destruction as laborers fought to unionize. Today, at the beginning of the 2000s, unions have been outlawed to the point of not being a significant influence in corporate decisions about wages and benefits. Employers can now treat wages as a static overhead regardless of profits. Consequently, the Base is shut out from GDP profits with a net effect of underfinanced retirement. Another side effect is minimum wage; plutocratic influence in governments has pushed against increases even to levels of viability.

Taxation – It is common knowledge today that the tax tables are upside down. As a percentage of income, low income citizens are taxed at severe percentages while wealth in all its forms is virtually tax free. Further, corporations no longer are bound to one government’s tax laws and are able to avoid taxes of any kind. The Base feels it is paying an unfair share of taxes for a government that caters to the plutocracy instead of the tax-paying workers.

Discretionary Programs – Programs in the government’s budget that are beneficial to citizens in general, e.g., health, welfare, social security, worker’s compensation, support for the indigent, and equal treatment programs; add in public education. The Affordable Care Act is the first major program to be added since the Civil Rights Act in 1957 and Medicare/Medicaid in 1965. In the 1990s, the health industry became a profit taking industry; the cost of health services was no longer based on cost plus a margin, it became based on what the market would bear. This increased health insurance significantly; copays increased and many health services opted out of Medicaid and Medicare, forcing citizens to pay huge bills for special services and prescriptions. Major detractors of discretionary programs are Libertarians and conservative parts of the Republican Party. The Base feels that governments are ignoring their needs.

A paragraph must be dedicated to the screwy results of the 2016 election. When surveying Republicans, Donald has 70% of the GOP. When surveying the general population, Donald has 40%. The 40% represents Donald’s Base; the other 30% is the GOP faithful. Unfortunately, Hillary was in the crosshairs of history: the whole Bill thing, the Whitewater thing, the female thing, the Establishment thing – the crossover to vote republican was just enough for the Base to switch to Donald. The irrational Electoral College didn’t help either. Ironically, Hillary won by 4 million votes and in 2018 the Democratic Party rose like a tsunami to take control of the House of Representatives. But Donald, running republican, took the day. Mariner feels sorry for the Base in that they elected the personality they wanted but not the party they wanted.

So what can we do about the Base? Fear feeds populism. The Base feels threatened on every side. Salaries are inadequate; retirement is uncertain; automation eliminates jobs every day; upward mobility is denied (college costs, forced layoff around the age of 50, rising house prices, etc.), governments are awash in plutocracy, children can’t afford to move out and on and on.
Mariner isn’t touting either party these days; government is totally dysfunctional whether Democrat or Republican. Still, the Green New Deal may expand the necessary workforce – especially for the working class; retooled discretionary programs, including the expense of college, may help around the edges of life; the idea of a dole to every citizen may rebalance income conditions especially for the poor and elderly; universal medical coverage may ease the life of just about everyone. It seems that the Democrats need specifically to invite the Base back to their party for 2020. A lot hangs on who the presidential nominee will be.

Ancient Mariner

Being Real

[“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit.]

From the Atlantic:

 Can We Touch?

Physical contact remains vital to health, even as we do less of it. The rules of engagement aren’t necessarily changing—they’re just starting to be heard.

James Hamlin, April 10, 2019

֎  Today’s post largely is a number of excerpts from James Hamlin’s article. Regular readers know that mariner is skeptical about modern technology, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) which is cleaving human behavior away from interpersonal touching, hugging, conversation, and deliberate sharing of the intimate space – a column of space that extends about a foot from the body. Several studies are presented that show a human is dependent on touching and hugging not only for social acceptance but for healthy bodies and emotional development. Brackets [ ] encompass quoted material.

[ Tiffany Field has spent decades trying to get people to touch one another more.

Her efforts started with premature babies, when she found that basic human touch led them to quickly gain weight. An initial small study, published in the journal Pediatrics in 1986, showed that just 10 days of “body stroking and passive movements of the limbs” for less than an hour led babies to grow 47 percent faster. They averaged fewer days in the hospital and accrued $3,000 less in medical bills. The effect has been replicated multiple times.

Field, a developmental psychologist by training, went on to found the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. She was a pioneer in highlighting the effects of “touch deprivation” among kids, famously those in orphanages. She explained to me that the effects are pervasive, influencing so many bodily systems that kids are diagnosed with “failure to thrive,” resulting in permanent physical and cognitive impairment, smaller stature, and social withdrawal later in life—which often includes aversion to physical contact. ]




֎ It is beyond question that hugging, touching, kissing, caressing, and many other intimate reinforcements are a biological requirement in primates – in fact all mammals require to some degree feelings of value, justification, affection, friendship, bonding, celebration and love.

[ Physical touch doesn’t make adults larger, but its effects are still coming to light. Field has published similar findings about the benefits of touch in full-term infants, and then children and pregnant women, adults with chronic pain, and people in retirement homes. Studies that involved as little as 15 daily minutes found that touch alone, even devoid of the other supportive qualities it usually signifies, seems to have myriad benefits.

The hug, specifically, has been repeatedly linked to good health. In a more recent study that made headlines about hugs helping the immune system, researchers led by the psychologist Sheldon Cohen at Carnegie Mellon University isolated 400 people in a hotel and exposed them to a cold virus. People who had supportive social interactions had fewer and less severe symptoms. Physical touch (specifically hugging) seemed to account for about a third of that effect. (The researchers conclude: “These data suggest that hugging may act as an effective means of conveying support.”) Cohen and his colleagues continued to show other health benefits of physical contact, such as a 2018 reveal in the journal PLOS titled “Receiving a Hug Is Associated With the Attenuation of Negative Mood That Occurs on Days With Interpersonal Conflict.” ]

֎ Everything mentioned to this point is critical to a healthy, mature sense of self. But there is another level of reality. Culture comes from human interaction; who we are among ourselves in a world of 7.7 billion people is reality. There is no way to identify and manage reality except through human interaction. Smartphones and iPads and computers are not reality. Let them take control and there will be no reality save ‘the cloud.’ Shades of “The Matrix”. We should have learned this on television: the fun parties in beer commercials are not real.

Reality comes from interaction with other people. The degree to which data mining distracts us from reality is damaging. Stop just to reinforce a friendship and hug them will enforce cultural reality. Giving the thumb a workout is time away from reality.

Ancient Mariner


When Migration becomes Immigration

In a recent post, mariner and Guru discussed migration. It was determined that migration is no more than a choice of action. One chooses migration because they can. There are many, many reasons that provoke the decision to migrate. The vast majority, however, would rather not have to choose migration. Migration is not class-specific; rich people migrate; opportunists migrate; poor people migrate; young people migrate; old people migrate; starving and life-threatened people migrate. Interestingly, the Internet is a new travel route for political motives and corporate investment – both forms of migration.

In this post, however, mariner and Guru explore the other side of the coin – immigration.

– – – –

Migration is replaced by the word ‘immigration’ when nationalism confronts the emigrant’s decision. An emigrant’s desire to migrate to another nation is no longer the deciding factor. Rather, it is the receiving nation that determines whether entrance is acceptable.

For obvious reasons across a range of issues, nations are obligated to have standards for immigration. Economic stability and military security clearly are good reasons to have standards for immigration; illegitimate practices in international commerce, black market products, diseases and animal/plant/insect controls are good reasons to check who and what comes and goes across a national border. Troublesome social issues like slave trade, drugs, and persons intent on criminal behavior also are a concern.

As a procedural relationship, migration and immigration work well. There are procedures in the nation of departure for applying for entry which match closely the standards set by the receiving nation. One cannot forget that government oversight and civil management are required in both nations for the procedural relationship to occur.

Successful immigration is similar to purchasing a plane ticket, passing through airport security and boarding the plane – all before one can depart the initial location. The immigration struggles that have become worse around the world during the twenty-first century will become more troublesome as the world changes on many fronts. In virtually every troublesome case, the decision to migrate starts in a nation that has no government oversight, no civility, and to cite the analogy, no airport.

The typical reaction of most nations is to confront excessive migrants at the border after the migration has been accomplished. Taking a cue from the immigration procedure when it works correctly, the emigrant should qualify at the beginning, not at the end. Mass migrations have legitimate cause to leave nations at war, starving, with collapsed economies and management by murderous gangs, residency applications notwithstanding.

Mariner has more to learn before he can foresee a solution to the global migration issue. Being global and being international, it seems an organization similar to the United Nations would be the only comprehensive enforcement agent to take the pressure off national immigration services and push residency applications back to the nation of departure.

Pulling a process out of the air, perhaps the UN would manage humane immigration at the front end, filling out forms, etc. This would require all nations to agree to the UN’s screening. While nations still have the last say, the experience at the border may flow better.


[Politico] HOW MUCH THE BANKS ON THE HILL TODAY SPENT ON LOBBYING: The chief executives of seven major bank and investment firms — Bank of America, Bank of New York Mellon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and State Street Corporation — arrived on the Hill this morning to testify before the House Financial Services Committee. As you might expect, all of them have a presence in Washington.

The seven companies together spent $14.8 million on Washington lobbying last year, according to disclosure filings. Citigroup spent the most, at $4.5 million; State Street spent the least, at $1.5 million. All of them also have active corporate PACs that give to members of Congress — including, of course, members of the committee.

–> Be honest. Is your vote 100% influential? Is it $10,000 for each representative or is it one person, one vote?

This is just the banks . . . The term for this form of government is plutocracy or corporatocracy. Certainly not democracy.

– – – –

[538] $1,535 rent

Driven by millennials’ demand, job growth and rising wages, the median rent in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent in March compared to the year before, according to data from the online rental housing site HotPads. It’s now $1,535 a month. Phoenix was the big “winner,” where the median rent rose 6.7 percent to $1,520. The median rent in New York, on the other hand, ticked up just 1.5 percent — to $2,380. [Associated Press]

–> It’s good news that citizens are finding somewhere to work. The rent statistics show that the unemployment record doesn’t tell the whole story. Salaries have a long way to go before they return to realistic levels. The other implication derived from the high rents is that the US faces a growing housing issue.

Ancient Mariner

Why Migration

Mariner had a closed door conversation with Guru. Amos wasn’t invited because he is deeply affected by the Donald reality. Mariner doesn’t know where Chicken Little is hiding due to the Russian military arriving in Venezuela.

Guru and mariner delved into the broader ramifications of the migration issue. They had to have some distance from the ravaging of the issue by Donald; his leadership is inadequate and he cannot process socio-political evolution.

As always in a discussion with Guru, the question of ‘why’ had to be answered first. Mariner started with some statistics to determine the scope of the issue:

  • Worldwide, there is an estimated 191 million immigrants;
  • The last 50 years has seen an almost doubling of immigration;
  • 115 million immigrants live in developed countries;
  • 20% (approximately 38 million) live in the US alone, making up 13% of its population;
  • 33% of all immigrants live in Europe;
  • 75% live in just 28 countries;
  • Women constitute approximately half of all migrants at around 95 million;

Between 1990 and 2005 ◦There were 36 million migrations (an average of approximately 2.4 million per year);
◦33 million wound up in industrialized countries;
◦75% of the increases occurred in just 17 countries;
◦Immigration decreased in 72 countries in the same period;[1]

An interesting factoid from is that the Mexico-to-U.S. link is the most popular bilateral migration path in the world. As of 2013, more Mexican immigrants (13 million) were living in the U.S. than all immigrants to Russia combined (11 million). Russia has the second largest number of total foreign-born residents, after the United States, which has a total foreign-born population of about 46 million.

Also from Pew Research, Countries with the fewest resources send lower shares of migrants. Although international migration is intrinsically tied with the search for jobs, people in the most impoverished countries may not have the money to finance a trip. The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger – countries with some of the lowest U.N. Human Development Index ratings and GDP per capita – all have less than 3% of their population living outside their borders.

Then mariner and Guru focused on why migration happens. The first notable migration was the one 80-100 thousand years ago from Africa into the Middle East and Europe. A popular theory among paleontologists is simply that Homo sapiens, like any species, migrated because it could. Mariner is reminded of the French who have a larger percentage of citizens living around the world than any other nation. There must be a statistic somewhere that describes the high rate of citizen relocation within the US – just because they can. Some years ago, there was a statistic that said Americans move an average of every five years – for various reasons of course – but the bottom line is because they can. The first reason migration occurs: because it can.

Competing for the second reason for migration are economic hardship/opportunity, religious freedom, education, family ties, tyranny and war, famine and disease, and whimsy. All these reasons, save whimsy, can be listed in two groups of migrants: political reasons and economic reasons; the overlap is significant.

Lest one dismiss whimsy lightly, the migrations to the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific affect local political and economic circumstances in those regions. Years ago mariner sailed the islands of the Caribbean when virtually every island had a unique culture and distinctive value. In less than ten years, big time commercialism wiped out the colorful, fragile and balanced nature of these islands.

Another top-down migration occurred in Puerto Rico in the early 2000s when billionaires seeking to reduce taxes bought all the good shoreline and built magnificent castles they called ‘resorts.’ This in no way benefited the Puerto Rican economy and put out of reach the better shorelines that Puerto Rico could have leveraged.

Corporations migrate as well and are pushing the world economies into a new age of international finance. And, oddly, the Internet allows migration without ever leaving in the first place but, as the 2018 US election proved, Russian political influence affected US politics as much as a cruise ship docking at a small island in the Caribbean – without ever leaving Russia.

Given the discourse above, whether hardship or whimsy, migration happens because it can. The next post will look at migration from the opposite side, immigration.

Ancient Mariner



You got Religion?

Everyone has religion. From the brightest, emotionally secure to the dullest, brutally psychopathic, religion is part of our DNA. It is an intractable part of our species. It is the base mental and emotional engine from which all understanding emerges. Further, every religion has three components: belief (theology), responsibility (doctrine), and practice (ritual). From the most brutal, child sacrificing voodoo cult to the elaborate doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church to the Eastern state-of-mind religions and even Zen and atheism – all have belief, responsibility and practice.

When one has no comprehension, no experience and no skills, that is when belief is most influential. Consider the four-year-old who believes in monsters, magic, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. These beliefs provide order and value to an otherwise unknown reality.

As the child grows older, especially during periods of learning and acquiring new skills, belief must change to accommodate what still remains unknowable but by necessity is more elaborate and abstract. Learning is more influential when a person is young. The brain has acquired a budding sense of self eager to find out more about how the self fits into a widening reality. How the self fits into reality is the source of responsibility, a code of behavior attached to a set of values; in religious terms, that’s called doctrine.

Armed with the newness of belief and responsibility, one is eager to invoke proper practices; another way to say that is eager to be an advocate. Consider the new young Congressional Representatives eager to establish the untarnished principles of democracy; consider any person new on the job – new on the job of life – and the accompanying zeal and commitment to advocate their responsibilities. Older, less eager folks may call them naive or say it’s time for them to grow up.

The tendency to leave advocacy behind is part biology and part experience. On the one hand, our body stops growing and begins slowing down; on the other hand, one learns that being proactive in most cases doesn’t change anything. One seeks a stable status quo.

As a person grows older, the complexity of reality stabilizes. Daily life commands attention at a very pragmatic level. One does not have the time or energy or need to continuously pursue new or unknowable elements of reality. One develops a shorthand version of responsibility and practice. It is called ‘habit.’

Acquiring habitual behavior is an important function of the brain. It is a real, proven physiological phenomenon. If the Frontal Cortex had to start from scratch learning what to do in every situation, identifying value systems, determining functionality and crosschecking personal worth, it would require a much larger number of brain cells to keep track of everything as if it had never happened before. Fortunately, the brain has a way to compress and automate many experiences especially if they are redundant. These compressed procedures are called habits. There is a trigger in the Frontal Cortex that signals which habit to invoke so the brain doesn’t have to think about what’s going on.

And that’s the down side – the brain doesn’t have to think anymore. The three dimensional life experience that fosters advocacy is no longer there to provide energy, focus and commitment to responsibility (doctrine). The value system that is supposed to direct practice (ritual) disappears.

In the Christian religion (and relevant to all religions), followers in this state are called ‘pew Christians.’ The minimalist application of habitual behavior forgets the power of love (theology), the requirement to spread that love through selfless action (doctrine) and the act of interpersonal advocacy (ritual) and are not part of the practice. The habit remembers that it is Sunday, dress differently, take a few dollars, be at the church on time, etc. But do unto others in person? That’s for the young advocates.

Ancient Mariner


Can’t we all just do things right?

[The Guardian] More than $300,000

Last week, there was the news that Stephen Moore, the author of “Trumponomics” and President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, was being pursued by the IRS for more than $75,000 in back taxes from 2014. (Moore has said that it’s not true that he owes the IRS that amount.) And, according to records obtained by The Guardian, Moore was held in contempt of court in 2012 for failing to pay more than $300,000 in spousal support, child support and other money owed to his ex-wife in their divorce settlement. (Moore declined to comment on the report to the news outlet.)

– – – –

[The Atlantic] The tax-collection system as we know it is the outcome of three forces: corporate lobbying, a stubborn resistance to borrowing good ideas from other Western nations, and the Republican Party’s decades-long campaign against taxation itself.

In the Netherlands, the procedure is simple. First, you look over the form the government sends you with your taxes already calculated, and you check it. Second, you sign it and send it back. Third—well, there is no third. That’s the entire process. Dutch citizens can file their taxes in minutes.

This is the case in country after country. In Japan, Sweden, Estonia, and Great Britain, people don’t have to file their taxes. They are spared the high-stress homework assignment that Americans face every year. Citizens of these countries do get the opportunity to check the government’s arithmetic if they like, but in most cases, taxpayers seem to think the calculations are reasonable…

Nothing is keeping the United States from copying these countries. The article is entertaining. See:

– – – –

–> Now it’s Herman Cain for Federal Reserve. Donald cannot deal with (a) a virtuous man (b) an honest man (c) a mature man (d) a competent man. Mariner wonders why. . .

– – – –

The Quiz

There was an erroneous question that slipped through as mariner was editing questions. It was the question about the wings of a dove and asked a bonus question which should not have been there.

Mariner hopes readers toyed with it a bit. Everyone has tidbits of memory that hang with them for their entire lives. Problem is, it’s not a complete set of information – a line here, a first name there, perhaps a vision of a scene but which movie?

Yes, ten planets. If the reader did not violate the rule about using search engines, they would not know that astronomers have changed their tune about Pluto and other stable objects because of the role they play in balancing the Solar System in general. By the way, the tenth planet is named ‘Far Out’ because it really, really is far out.

Ancient Mariner

Who Knows Best

Mariner will be distracted by gardening duties. He is eager to keep his readers sharp and up to date on cultural and scientific news. Below are three quizzes. The first is show business, the second is literature and the third is science.

Answers will not be provided in order to enhance the reader’s research skills. HOWEVER, SHOULD YOU EVEN THINK OF USING YOUR BROWSER, IN YOUR HEART, YOU KNOW YOU’VE FAILED THE QUIZ. Researching old junk, ahem, old memorabilia lying about, especially your old friends and old relatives is acceptable and encouraged; questions are multi-generational.




Who cut original recording of “Earth Angel”?


“. . . Put it in your pocket”


“Bring your sweet lips a little closer”


Made a trademark sound combining saxophone and clarinet


Name a male and female CW singer who had hits with “On the Wings of a Dove” Extra credit: What movie inspired the song in 1952?


“God Bless America” without a microphone


“Everything’s Coming up Roses” without a microphone


“Drive by Mary’s place”


“Lucile, please come back where you belong”


Name two hit song titles





Name the movie with the song: “Shakedown”

Name this singer

2006 big hit “Money Maker” by

Thirteen different groups sang backup for Elvis Presley. Not counting the Jordanaires, name two

Go get your Grandmother. Ask her the name of this actress

In the 1960’s including Frank, there were five members of the Rat Pack. Name them:


– – – –



Name two authors who were known for wearing white suits


Name five friends of Winnie the Pooh


Who terrorized Ichabod Crane?


What was Captain Ahab chasing?


Name of person who wore a scarlet letter


Name two of the Little Women


In what book is Boo Radley a character?


Who wrote “A Movable Feast”?


Who built a house at Walden Pond?


Name three literary dogs


What book did Abraham Lincoln accuse for starting the Civil War?


– – – –



In our solar system, name 10 planets in sequence from the Sun


In miles per hour, how fast is the speed of sound and how fast is the speed of light?


Name the three primary ingredients in plant food


Name three species of lizards


What element, when consumed by the Sun, will end the Sun’s life?


Name in sequence by date of birth: Max Planck, Madam Curie and Albert Einstein


Name of Astrophysicist with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


Cite the Binomial Theorem


Name the sequence of colors in the rainbow and which is the shortest wavelength


Who discovered electricity (hint: not Ben)


Name any of the four major eras in Earth’s history


Have fun. Wrack your brain. There’s no score but self-satisfaction. Mariner suspects most readers have been exposed to this information but, like mariner, have no idea today.

Ancient Mariner


Spring, maybe, has sprung

Mariner’s town had its first Spring day three days ago. A Spring day means the Sun is shining, the breeze is comfortable and the temperature is in the sixties. Two days ago the town had its second Spring day in a row. However, as expected the temperature returned to highs in the forties and in the twenties at night and a couple of inches of rain the ground doesn’t need.

On those two Spring days mariner wandered outside to examine the gardens and lawns. Early bulbs are breaking through the mulch; the azaleas out front haven’t shown any interest in growing yet; there is hope they will return in zone 3-4 conditions. He cut back the patch of dead cattails and the brown zebra grass in the shade garden. Mariner cleared the Asparagus bed. The pickup truck was full and ready for the dump.

Mariner noticed other small things. A #$!!@ rabbit had eaten his newly planted fig tree to the nub and two 18-inch high emerald arborvitae as well. Two years ago three fox families moved into town because of the abundance of rabbits. The foxes don’t seem to be around this year and the rabbits are back.

Mariner’s wife feeds the squirrels and birds during winter snows. The snow is gone and thousands of sunflower hulls cover the kitchen garden as if mariner had spread mulch. Mariner has lots and lots of tree leaves like Ash, Oak, Walnut, etc. to collect along fence lines, in the gardens, and across the lawns. Funny thing, mariner has only one tree – a Pecan tree.

So it’s the beginning of another garden season. It was not easy to collect the grasses and clear vegetable boxes. Fifteen years ago mariner could clean up the yard in three hours or so; this year it took all day and required several breaks to ease the pains of codgerhood. Tomorrow he’ll drive to the dump and maybe find a dumped truck load of good dirt to pilfer.

Ancient Mariner


Primer for the Electorate in 2020


In the 1980s Reagan proposed a four-pronged economic policy that was intended to reduce inflation and stimulate the economy and job growth:

1) reduce government spending on domestic programs;

2) reduce taxes for individuals, businesses and investments;

3) reduce the burden of regulations on business; and

4) support slower money growth in the economy.

If the reader recognizes these policies, it’s because today’s Republican Party still believes in the sanctity of these four policies. However, the issues that confronted Reagan (high inflation and high unemployment) do not exist today. Deregulating industry was so prevalent that during Reagan’s Presidency, businesses were allowed to use assets locked in retirement funds as a source for new venture capital. Unions have been decimated by Reaganomics; Reaganomics is a ‘supply-side’ policy, that is, provide products and people will buy them, raising employment as a factor of profit. However, the net result in today’s economic environment encourages capital investment rather than manufacturing.

By reducing or eliminating decades-long social programs, while at the same time lowering taxes and marginal tax rates, Reagan’s approach to handling the economy marked a significant departure from that of many of Jimmy Carter’s policies. The results spread the gap between the wealthy and working classes versus poverty levels. The number of children, ages 18 years and younger, below the poverty level increased from 11.543 million in 1980, 18.3% of children, to 12.455, 19.5%, in 1988. Also, the situation of low income groups was affected by the reduction of social spending, and inequality increased. Hence GOP resistance to universal health strategies and discretionary spending.

Today, the advantage granted to business and wealth has grown to the point of imbalance. The government is close to becoming a plutocracy as the wealthy, large corporations and lobby support for legislators have grown into disruptive proportions.

What needs to happen in 2020:

It’s time for Reaganomics to end. For both houses of Congress, this is done by replacing the old GOP with young centrist republicans and by increasing the number of democrats.

Lack of collaboration and compromise in Congress.

Newt Gingrich is considered the House Speaker who changed a more or less collaborative legislative process into a contest for party dominance. The old days of party leaders negotiating balanced compromises was replaced by a ‘my party first, the Nation second’ attitude in the 1990s (just like Mitch). The Democrats responded in kind, replacing statesmanship with gamesmanship. This situation has grown worse as big money and gerrymandering have become the tools of political power – causing significant damage to the classic strengths of one person, one vote and the democratic engine perceived by the Founders. Part of the reason for Donald’s success is that the electorate has grown tired of a do-nothing Congress.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The electorate always will be influenced by personality first but add a second awareness in 2020: Does the candidate talk about new solutions for current issues or repairing old ones? Pick the one with new solutions.


Corporatism is multifaceted. What will replace Reaganomics is an economy that engages several nations at once. Think of a strip mall with many storefronts and a couple of large box stores at each end. Each store contributes to the overall GDP of the mall. Different stores sell and buy different things but all the stores are dependent on the mall as a whole.

A couple of years ago a consortium of 12 nations participated in designing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)[1], a classic example of international economics. Sadly, it failed muster in the US because of a rift between Republican Congress and a Democrat in the Whitehouse. There were some rough spots where the corporate authors ignored human rights and economic obligations but the attempt was headed in the right direction to launch a new and different economy.

Another facet of corporatism is taxes. Very large corporations virtually are not taxed; they live in several nations at once so they aren’t really controlled by any given nation. The solution is something similar to the European Union or TPP where economic policy is centralized across all member nations.

A third facet (there are more but these three desperately need electorate assistance) is the issue of human rights, privacy and security. Today, giant multinational corporations have no obligation to provide living wages, decent benefits or working conditions. Further, they totally disregard privacy and security. The old Reaganites are afraid to tax corporations because they will locate in another country – which is true because the countries have not banded together to formulate common taxes. Not taxing is not a solution.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Economically speaking, what needs to happen is expressed in the first issue – it’s time for Reaganomics to end. Consider giving the vote to a candidate that doesn’t spout the four policies of Reaganomics.

Further, take notice of candidates that talk about information security (see the recent post, How someone can live your life for you to understand privacy). The security side has to do with national security and high-tech industries that would prefer not to worry about the expense of national security on a nation-by-nation level. If the electorate can fix one security item, let it be US election security.


A Chinese Corporation won the bid to build Chicago’s new rail system. Electronic manufacturing for US products largely is performed everywhere but in the US. The US is falling behind other nations in knowledge-based industries. Historically speaking, the US doesn’t make things anymore. Even armchair doilies are made overseas.

This is so obvious that it’s Democrats who know how to fix manufacturing! Their proposal is called the Green New Deal (a reference to FDR’s New Deal). The democrats combined the requirements to meet climate change, improve transportation in all its forms and create new industries for a new era driven by Artificial Intelligence into one sweeping manufacturing economy. Generally, the Green New Deal will turn the US into a nation that builds stuff again.

What needs to happen in 2020:

The Green New Deal is the opposite of supply-side Reaganomics; it’s Keynesian demand-side economics. It’s a Democratic Party program that needs a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress.

Cabinet-Based programs

A citizen is familiar with these issues: health, education, housing, equal rights, immigration, environmental protection, agriculture, and several other state and Federal policies – all managed by cabinet secretaries of one kind or another. Desperately needed immediately is a functioning State Department to restore US leadership in the world and to lead the US into a new economic and social age.

What needs to happen in 2020:

Get rid of Donald.

Ancient Mariner

[1] The TPP was between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The countries involved produce 40 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product of $107.5 trillion.