On Aging

When mariner was very young, he remembers lots of men had a perpetual toothpick in their mouths. No point to be made; just that he remembers – isn’t that enough for an old man?

This post may read like self pity but it is just another pondering from his file on this planet’s biomass. Mariner is provoked, however, to write this post in behalf of his elder friends who sustain their lives in spite of greater challenges than youngsters and society may notice.

But before we start on aging, in a related socio-psychological subject it has been proven economically and socially that breaking down the extended family to a nuclear family has not been a good thing. For the Matrix-sensitive folks, do you think the new isolationist teaching method in schools combined with cloud control of our lives is preparing our species to live in coffins?

– – – –

Back to aging and speaking as an ancient member of Homo sapiens, a branch of the hominid family, mariner is taking science to task – especially the study of anatomy and medicine. Scientists laud their achievements in extending the human life span more than twenty years beyond the norm for hominids. What the scientists forgot was to include normal functionality along with the additional years.

For example: sex. If the reader thinks Jeff Bezos is rich, think how rich the scientist would be who discovered a way for guys over 60 to continue having an active sex life. And dementia – what good is living if a person doesn’t know they’re living? And Parkinson’s, heart disease, arthritis and palsy. How about incontinence and disappearing bone mass? Making hominids live longer without simultaneously extending functionality doesn’t improve anything except more opportunity to be depressed, in pain, isolated and ill.

Old folks’ skin looks like lizard skin because muscles and their inherent potential energy simply are vanishing. Case in point: can mariner still play football? Not.

Anthropologists suggest that evolution cares only about procreation, i.e. sustaining the species. While scientists were extending lifespan, why not extend fecundity? It boils down to this: living longer may avoid facing the end of life for a while but for a majority of folks it is a life of depression, pain, dysfunction, despair and medical bankruptcy. The best to be had simply may be a feeling of irrelevance.

Some youngsters may think old people are useless and in the way – especially when it comes to government support. But the elders are monuments to strength and perseverance despite the meddling of medical science. Let’s see what trouble will be stirred by tinkering with the genome.

Ancient Mariner

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:

SOCIETY

  • THERE IS NO FREE WILL. HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND INTELLECT ARE TIGHTLY BOUND TO A GENOME THAT EVOLUTION TOOK 70 MILLION YEARS TO CREATE. IN THIS RESPECT, HUMANS ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN OPOSSUMS AND KING COBRAS.
  • THERE IS ONLY 2% DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GENOME OF A CHIMPANZEE AND THAT OF A HUMAN. THE DIFFERENCE IS THE FRONTAL LOBE.
  • ONE IN TEN HUMANS CAN THINK IN THE ABSTRACT. THE REST ARE SMART SIMIANS, ALSO KNOWN AS THE ELECTORATE.

HOMO SAPIENS

  • AS AN EVOLUTIONARY PHENOMENON, THE HUMAN BRAIN IS AN UNSTABLE ABERRATION. LIKE THE DINOSAURS, WHICH EVENTUALLY BECAME EXTINCT BECAUSE THEY WERE IN CONFLICT WITH THE BIOSPHERE, HUMANS HAVE AN END DATE FOR EXISTENCE.[1]

ECONOMY

  • CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM ARE SOPHISTICATED ARGUMENTS FOR GREED.
  • COMMUNISM, SANS ALL THE AUTHORITARIAN INFLUENCES, IS THE NATURAL ECONOMY FOR THE HUMAN SPECIES. TODAY’S EXAMPLE IS OFF-THE-GRID HOMESTEADING – A NATURALLY COMPLIANT BEHAVIOR WITH THE BIOSPHERE. NOTE THAT THIS LIFESTYLE MATCHES THE REST OF THE SIMIAN GENOME WITHOUT THE IRRITATING INVENTIONS COMING FROM THE FRONTAL LOBE.

SCIENCE

  • CREATES INTELLECTUALISM AT THE COST OF DISRUPTING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, E,G., LIFE SPAN OF A HUMAN BEING. RELEVANT HUMAN HISTORY IS SUPPOSED ONLY TO BE ABOUT 60 YEARS OR THREE GENERATIONS.

TECHNOLOGY

  • THE CENTER OF GROWTH FOR GREED-BASED ECONOMIES.

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.

Alas, Poor Uncle Sam

 

. . . I knew him, Horacio — a fellow of infinite jest… Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs?

– – – –

Mariner has become frayed and disillusioned wandering the foxholes and ditches of daily politics, economics and social conflict. It reminds him of those old news videos of doughboys running in the trenches of World War I. Mariner searches desperately for reason, cohesiveness and purpose.

Alas, the trenches of Somme are the nation’s reality. Cash replaces tear gas; international trade replaces cannon fodder; political dialogue replaces machine guns; technology replaces bombs and strafing. And now an accelerant, Covid-19, has introduced the urgency of a raging forest fire.

Not only is shelter-in-place an urgent pragmatism, it is a metaphor for our times; it is our trench.

Meanwhile, out on the battlefield, Covid-19 has expedited cultural change. It has made space for artificial intelligence to rush in and set new standards. It has disrupted political change from an incompetent form of democracy to one that relates to the battlefield. It has destroyed the nation’s economy.

More than a million soldiers were killed or wounded on the fields of Somme representing seven nations. It was brutally personal. Currently in the United States 23,000 citizens have died and the plague is still progressing. It is brutally personal.

Subtly, a new force has joined the war: global warming. As today’s global war of change fights its way into the future, as small steps of stability are put in place, global warming will attack across all fronts – politics, economics and society. Global warming will introduce a new dimension of destruction just as the atomic bomb did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the United States today, political smoke fills the air, explosions erupt in the halls of government and reason dies under attack from greed, prejudice and moral decline. Yet, no different than the Battle of Somme, this time of great, historical change must continue to be fought. It is not nation against nation so much as it is faction against faction. It is the wealthy against the poor, the average, the good of all; it is the plutocracy of government fatally infected with cash and privilege; it is corporate America flushed with opportunity to monopolize society; it is data technology that will erase the idiosyncrasy of each citizen while all around this war the biosphere dies more rapidly every day.

Will reason, cohesiveness and purpose ever again exist? Will humanity survive? Is all this commotion part of the Sixth Extinction?

Ancient Mariner

 

A nation divided . . .

A bill has been introduced in Congress to make Chicago the 51st state. Illinois is one of many states where one or more very large cities, like Chicago, dominate state politics. Mariner lives near the Illinois line and he knows downstate Illinois is no Chicago! It is classic conservative versus liberal, rural versus urban, agriculture versus manufacturing, republican versus democrat. The situation in Illinois is how Donald can brag he won Illinois because he won 90 counties out of 102. Donald does not mention that he lost Illinois to Hillary 5 to 3 in the popular vote.

By party affiliation Illinois is the third most democratic state in the Union behind New York and California. Converting the state from counties to districts which directly affects representation to the Electoral College, there are 18 congressional districts plus two at large for a total of 20. As it turned out, Hillary took all 20 because Illinois is one of those states that require all Electoral College representatives to represent the popular vote. However, seven of those districts were won by Donald. Many states do not follow Illinois’ interpretation and allow each district to represent its own vote. This is how Donald won the Electoral College in 2016.

So much for statistics. The real issue is a split society. These circumstances remind mariner of Ancient Greece during the era of city-states; it reminds him of the south versus the north in 1860; it reminds him of the generational dichotomy during the 1960’s. Now, it is conflict between thinly populated, monolithic agricultural regions versus crowded, high tech, internet-linked, culturally diverse cities.

The latest news demonstrates the defensiveness between rural and city in that nine states refuse to participate in Covid-19 recommendations. Defiance in either culture is a dangerous sign.

The US, among many nations around the world, is confronted by the Big Four: Economy, Global Warming, Artificial Intelligence and Role of Government. But now for the US, there is a fifth: cultural bifurcation.

This situation literally forces the Republic’s governments and its citizens to take control of dysfunctional relationships between the cultures. Specifically, the relationships in disarray are:

Taxes, Senate representation of population, gerrymandering, term limits, Electoral College and plutocracy (money runs the government).

Coronavirus certainly picked a terrible time to join the battle.

Ancient Mariner

Sustainability

Increasingly, mariner sees the word ‘sustainability’ popping up in news releases and articles. This is a good sign. It is raising the political thought that classism, elitism, nationalism and identity politics don’t really solve the problems of today’s world.

Were it not for the presence of a global pandemic, failing international economies and global warming, the idea of sustainability may not have emerged so quickly. Thinking in the abstract, as Guru is wont to do, the world may not be able to support oligarchy much longer. The liquidity and business investment value is needed to assuage true hardship experienced by everyone else in the world.

Beyond economics, global warming and pandemics don’t recognize borders or class distinctions. The politics that must deal with these subjects requires sustainability – by everyone. Sustainability is a unification word; it means the solution is more important than individual nations, individual cultures, corporations or individual political movements.

For several decades nations have been trying to deal with global warming by any means that will work other than sustainability (none do). The prime example is the fossil fuel industry dodging sustainability at every turn because its investment value will diminish greatly as the world population insists on moving to more sustainable energy resources.

As to pandemics, if properly funded and given direction, science will slowly make progress in dealing with pandemics from the perspective of sustainable practices, economics and politics. For example, it is not a sustainable behavior when items like face masks suffer price gouging under the not-so-sustainable concept of supply and demand.

One can hope sooner than later that war and its destructive conclusions will be seen as a solution that does not support sustainability.

Sustainability is an updated word that no longer means just surviving on a homestead; it also means surviving on a planet. Perhaps finally the United Nations may come into its own as THE organization responsible for sustainability. Goodness knows it has been trying.

Ancient Mariner

 

More on Great Divides

Sometimes it seems like mariner’s news sources have been reading mariner’s posts:

Businesses are leading the way on crises like climate change and health care, because institutions like media and government are no longer seen as ethical and competent, Sara Fischer writes from the 20th annual Edelman Trust Barometer.

“Business has leapt into the void left by populist and partisan government,” Edelman CEO Richard Edelman said.

-> But that’s only by default: 56% of the online survey’s respondents (34,000 people in 28 countries) said capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.

The survey, out today, shows a stark class divide — a growing gap in institutional trust between wealthier, more educated people vs. the rest of the population.

-> For the first time, a record number of developed countries — including Australia, France, Germany and the UK — are experiencing double-digit divides in trust between the informed class and the mass population. [Axios]

– – – –

The western world has emulated the Greek and Roman empires in magical similarity and has sustained their motivations as if time had stopped, carrying forward their principles of war, classism, politics and consumption economics.

But wait – is it time now for the Peloponnesian wars? Is Donald our Nero? Is it time for another Mount Vesuvius? Who will play the role of Attila? Who will be Alexander?

Will artificial intelligence emulate the dark ages? Will global warming purify humanity as the flood did in Genesis? Which new plague will erase millions of humans?

As the twenty-first century begins there is a scent in the air. It isn’t pleasant; more of a wafting that won’t dissipate. It doesn’t have an aroma of the Fullness of Time that is proposed by science and optimistic futurists; it seems more like a day in criminal court. Where is Apostle Paul when you need his reassurance?

It is sentencing time. Humans must pay for their casual dalliances with Mother Nature; humans must pay for raping the environment; humans must pay as the cause of the Sixth Extinction. In regard to the treatment of humankind it is time, in our contemporary emulation of Rome, for a sequel to the fall of Rome in 476 CE.

Ancient Mariner

The Vagaries of Dying

Mother Earth (AKA God, Yahweh, etc.) has arranged that all life forms procreate then die. It could not be otherwise because the planet would be quite crowded, resources would be unstable and there would be no room. So, all humans will die. Dying is painful, inopportune, and generally unpleasant. But dead is different. Being dead is like a long, deep nap in the afternoon. Time passes by unnoticed; there are no challenges, fears or inadequacies; no achievement is required. Just rest – even rest passes by unnoticed.

There are many kinds of death, each unique to its existence. For example automobiles die; there are graveyards for automobiles. Buildings die by decaying. On the other hand, buildings can be razed, too. Even Pando, the oldest living tree in the world at 80,000 years plus, will die perhaps by the hand of Mother Nature herself.

Species also die but not necessarily in the same time frame. Consider the opossum: Its origins date to the end of the dinosaurs but the lifestyle of each opossum is the same today as it was 65.5 million years ago. On the other hand, humans have ended the existence of 83% of all mammals and half of plants since the dawn of civilization. And to the point: humans, given their frailties, are willing to end their own species as well. Did Mother Nature make a mistake in the blueprints or is it humans who are supposed to enforce change by erasing estuaries, unbalancing rain forests, wiping out critical biomes or setting up an end to the mammalian age – even at the cost of their own demise?

Unlike the opossum, humans will not let stability remain. Human society changes as often as the weather. If society doesn’t change fast enough, humans invoke wars; if status quo even pauses for a moment, human science and technology trashes it for something new. Alas, society the world around is in the midst of social wars and societal collapse brought about by technical advancement. Not just one advancement but by 400 years of advancement bumping into the next one and the next one until change has become constant for 200 years.

For humans, change and conflict are two sides of the same coin. The old social standard must die – usually along generational timelines – except for the rare exception, e.g., the conservative Amish. Nothing is allowed permanency: slavery, economics, Frank Sinatra replaced by Elvis, replaced by Beetles, replaced by Wu-tang Clan, replaced by Nosebleed. Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite replaced by FOX, MSNBC and CNN.

The New Deal followed by Reaganism followed by corporatism, and on and on. Cultural life, anguish and death are continuous.

Mariner grows tired of it all. Even the prophet Amos went home at the end. The slashing and killing of a democratic society is not pleasant to witness or to live through. It isn’t just Donald, the TV version. It is plutocracy, authoritarianism, artificial intelligence, retail communism, and international solvency all at once. No citizen knows what the world will look like in the age of generation Z. Then there’s global warming. Even Mother Nature is pitching in.

It’s time for a nap.

Ancient Mariner

 

Global Warming – WW II technology returns to the present

35 Olympic swimming pools of radioactive matter

The legacy of the U.S.’s Cold War-era atomic testing program is still affecting the Marshall Islands at the Runit Dome, which holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, as well as lethal amounts of plutonium. An investigation between the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism reports that the dome is now at significant risk of collapsing from the effects of climate change. American officials have declined to help address the problem, but the news report says the U.S. government withheld important information about the contents of Runit and its weapons testing program, including the fact that 130 tons of soil from atomic testing grounds was shipped from Nevada to the Marshall Islands in 1958. [Los Angeles Times]

There is enough radiation in the Runit Dome to end all life in a large area of the Pacific Ocean around the Marshall Islands and beyond. This catastrophe raises a general issue about island nations threatened by global warming: Carteret Islands, Kiribati Islands, The Maldives, Seychelles, Torres Strait Islands, Tegua, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Micronesia and Palau. The problem with these islands isn’t radiation, its people. 1,241,560 of them.

Although not an island, Bangladesh, located in South Asia, experiences floods that cover about a quarter of the country every year. Climate change is making the floods worse for 156 million people.

And it isn’t only people on islands . . .

Ancient Mariner

 

News of the Moment

֎ Did the reader see Apple’s new ad selling an Apple credit card that “doesn’t need a bank”? Cryptocurrency is here to stay.

֎ Did the reader read that Jakarta, a city larger than New York by 2 million residents and is the capital of Indonesia, is sinking into the Java Sea? So they are building a brand new city from scratch on the island of Borneo. The downside is that it will house only 1.5 million residents – mostly government workers. Other nations should watch and learn how to do this so that when their home town sinks below the waves, they’ll know what to do.

֎ Mariner surmises that PBS news must read his blog. On Wednesday night’s broadcast they covered a children’s program in Oakland, California where a group of children are taken to a nature park on a regular basis. The program leaders believe that being outside (and not on a sidewalk leashed to a parent’s hand, is good for the general health of the children. One of the leaders had a good tag line: “You can’t click anything in nature.” (see mariner’s “The Child Park” published August 19)

֎ From Dave Chappell’s new Netflix show: “I want to see if you can guess who it is I’m doing an impression of.” He adopts a Homer Simpson–like tone and flails his arms: “Uh, duh. Hey! Durr! If you do anything wrong in your life—duh!—and I find out about it, I’m gonna try to take everything away from you!” Chappelle whines. “And I don’t care what I find out! Could be today, tomorrow, 15, 20 years from now. If I find out, you’re fucking—duh!—finished.” The audience doesn’t have much time to guess which dullard Chappelle is imitating, as he reveals the answer almost immediately: “That’s you!”

֎ Hazrat Inayat Khan appeared on the Zen daily calendar today saying “There can be no rebirth without a dark night of the soul. A total annihilation of all that you believed in and thought that you were.” He died in 1927. How did he know what it would be like in 2019?

֎ The Tongass National Forest in Alaska spans nearly 17 million acres, and its wilderness of old-growth cedar, spruce and hemlock trees makes up the world’s largest temperate rainforest. President Trump is pushing his agriculture secretary to lift logging restrictions in this cool-temperature preserve.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

 

Earth Overshoot Day

Yesterday, July 29, was Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot Day (EOD) is that day in a calendar year when humans have consumed what the planet can restore in one year. With very few exceptions, each year since 1969 a new record has been set in that EOD happens earlier in the year. In other words, during 2019 humans have consumed in seven months what it takes the planet a year to replace.

Do the math. This can’t go on forever. In 2019 humans consumed planet resources at 1.7 times what the Earth can provide. All the environmental programs in the world can’t keep up at that rate. Even mariner’s beloved Chesapeake Bay, a cornucopia of sea life, is threadbare from excessive fishing.

Many of the resources similar to those in the Amazon rain forest cannot be restored even over generations. Fresh water, that is at least somewhat potable, is becoming too scarce for society to survive in certain regions; the fastest growing landscape around the world is desert.

It’s not just creatures and environment. Bauxite, the principal ore for aluminum, has about thirty years left at today’s consumption rate. Even Helium provokes concern not that it will be depleted but that the availability already is close to consumption. There may come a day when one will not be allowed to fill balloons with Helium!

In the United States and perhaps in all the industrially developed nations, consumption has spoiled a majority of the citizens. Mariner remembers in his childhood the first time he had three different fresh berries in his cereal at one time. Folks get used to abundance. It is interesting, too, that part of the role of progress is to keep abundant consumption easily available.

EOD, among many issues, has made citizens aware of wastefulness. The use of cows to provide protein is a popular issue. Raising cattle requires land, machinery, feed, and time that far outweighs the cost of “ourselves eating the grass in the first place”; using the grain family to provide protein is immeasurably more efficient – why let the cows eat it first?

Large corporations like Proctor and Gamble are actively looking for a replacement for single-use plastics. There is so much waste in the US that it has been shipped to a half dozen other nations for processing. The volume is so great that these countries have stopped receiving US trash. What will the US do with it? The sensible answer is to stop producing it.

Other than surrealistic agronomic solutions to offset wasteful consumption of the environment, other than preventing mining, deforestation and excessive entrepreneurship to abuse the biosphere, EOD can be extended purely by self-conscious conservation. Is someone enjoying being too fat – beyond normal body types? Contribute to extending EOD by eating less and stop consuming frivolously – that includes all of life’s purchases not just food. In mariner’s town, every family seems to own at least five gas or electric yard toys. Could a little more elbow grease push the EOD later in the year?

Mariner’s mind wanders speculatively. Today, environmentalism, eliminating gourmand behavior in everything, and commitment to a better world by every definition can significantly delay the Armageddon of a world consumed.

Ancient Mariner