The New Work Ethic

The only word to describe his history is the word bizarre

While Donald pretends to know what he is doing to stop the nuclear warhead plans in North Korea, he is working to provide nuclear warheads to Saudi Arabia where he and his son-in-law (and the New York Post) have financial interests. Nevertheless, someone nominated Donald for the Nobel Prize for Peace. If Donald could buy one, he’d have half a dozen by now – peace be damned.

– – – –

Alexander Hamilton?

[Atlantic] . . . If you want to understand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bid to remake the economy to fight climate change, you need to read Hamilton. . . Former Treasury Secretary Hamilton (Jan 11, 1755 – Jul 12, 1804) called for policies that sound familiar to us today. Like Representative Ocasio-Cortez, he wanted massive federal spending on new infrastructure. Like Donald Trump, he believed that very high tariffs can nurture American manufacturing. And like Elizabeth Warren, he was willing to bend the Constitution to reform the financial system. . .

“Hamilton, in short, successfully used the power of the federal government to boost manufacturing, to pick winners and losers, and to shape the fate of the U.S. economy. He is the father of American industrial policy: the set of laws and regulations that say the federal government can guide economic growth without micromanaging it. And the Green New Deal, for all its socialist regalia, only makes sense in light of his capitalistic work.”[1]

–> Over most of the Nation’s history, manufacturing was the source of GDP. The North American continent was rich in every conceivable commodity from agricultural crops to steel. The corporate world earned its profits by engaging in manufacturing and innovations in manufacturing from plows to rocket ships. Over the decades, it was noticeable than everything from doilies to washing machines to automobiles left the US bound for other national economies. Since the Reagan Doctrine in the 1980’s, corporate profit has been made from investment first and only indirectly from manufacturing. Now, in an age when manufacturing salaries are a shadow of the past, when an age of investment oligarchs has emerged, and the Nation’s government follows money rather than statesmanship, it may be time to cancel the Reagan Doctrine and return to a manufacturing economy.

But the twenty-first century is not your grandfather’s world of manufacturing. If the fact that 195 nations signed the Paris Accord on Climate Change is anything to go by, there is a new market environment that will provide new demands, new products, and especially a new way in which the world must approach its global economies.

Al Gore years ago made a prediction: “When Americans understood what climate change would mean for their children and grandchildren,” the former vice president warned, “they will demand that whoever is running for office, whoever is elected to serve, will have to respond.”

The new manufacturing policy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others is based on different things than dishwashers: What will the US economy have to generate and reinvent in order to relocate New York City, Miami, and New Orleans among dozens of other cities that will be swamped by rising oceans? How will manufacturing transfer from fossil fuels to other forms of energy? How imposing will the new climate be that American infrastructure must be retooled with new processes, new inventions and new economic methods for providing salaries and welfare during a time when big hurricanes are nothing compared to the damage of a two-foot rise of ocean front along the Atlantic Coast? How will international policy change as whole nations disappear beneath the waves? How will economies be restructured to survive as Artificial Intelligence arrives and changes the workplace?

Perhaps it is time to go back to the history books. What was important to the founding fathers that we have ignored in the last sixty years? How would Alexander have handled things? Is our current Congress capable of refocusing on a new future not run by investment but by, as the Amish would suggest, putting its shoulder to the wheel and solving new problems?

Whatshisname is a pain in the ass but it is Congress that must take action. Mariner is pleased by the new blood in Congress. Let’s pray the new mindset grows. Alexander would be proud.

Ancient Mariner

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/02/green-new-deal-economic-principles/582943/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190219&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Identity Crisis

 Taking a break from daily news, in the US at least, where Donald skillfully dominates the public message and the press runs after it like a kitten runs after a ball of yarn, mariner turns to the serious issue of identity politics. In 21 months the US will have another Presidential election. Making this election even more important is that of the 33 Senate seats subject to primaries and reelection, 22 of the 33 are held by Republicans. Will the left swing of Democrats add to the attitude shift that carried the House of Representatives? Will a new attitude change the McConnell Senate? Dare mariner say the Senate will be controlled by Democrats?

Not today. The Democratic Party (and recently the Republican Party) is a montage of special interests. This happens frequently in a party that refers to itself as the ‘umbrella’ party. This time, however, the montage is unusually organized and has heels dug in against any compromise to principles.

Special interest groups have had years to foment dissatisfaction about guns, election tampering, gerrymandering, elected officials owned by lobbyists, grotesque amounts of money thrown at campaigns by special interests; add in the familiar ones: race, jobs, wages, unfair taxation, health, and retirement. Every one of these issues has lain dormant for much longer than a decade. The Senate truly is a do-nothing Senate with a deaf ear to the voice of the electorate.

So the Congress is ripe for a shakeup. There is a threshold to overcome: Primaries aside, to elect a new party Senator the vote count for the contender must be higher than the vote count for the entrenched Republican Senator – an uphill battle in a red or purple State. Making the Senate more important than usual is the messiness of the campaign for the Presidency. Even discounting Donald running for a second term, whoever wins in 2020 will not be the central force of change. Donald has completely derailed the normalcy of Presidential power and the electorate will vote for a ‘safe’ replacement – someone like Biden or Romney – Schultz doesn’t have ‘it’ to overcome other candidates. Consequently, both houses of Congress will have more influence on national policy than usual.

If the Democrats are to make inroads in the Senate, the Party must bring together disparate groups like Me Too, Black Lives Matter, Right to Choice, homosexual rights, Medicare for All, Unions, environmentalists and several emerging Hispanic rights groups. Indeed a montage.

Unification of these identity politic groups is absolutely necessary to compete in the red states. Both Republicans and Democrats will lose middle–of-the-road voters to a safe President; these same voters likely will stay with incumbent Senators.

Ancient Mariner

 

Advocacy, a Home Activity

Today’s post is a reprint from June 14, 2015. Mariner rarely if ever has republished; a reader can always browse the categories. This post was the first in a twelve part series of posts about individual advocacy, how advocacy is an ingredient in a satisfying life and a means of bringing order to that life. He feels the subject of personal advocacy provides a healing salve for the turbulent times everyone experiences today. The series deals with the relationship between mankind and his environment, treatment of animals and pets, how he should eat, and what can a person do at home that promotes order and personal meaning.

– – – –

Standing in the Penumbra of Advocacy at Home

Penumbra is the word of the day. The mariner doubts it will be replaced by “get” or “got.” The general meaning is to stand in the shadow of something. More than just a shadow, it alludes to a shadow that doesn’t have an edge like a person’s shadow or the shadow of a building. An example may be an eclipse or, on a sunny day, standing beneath an altocumulus cloud – high enough that its shadow line is diffused by the time it reaches the ground.

The mariner will confess that penumbra is not one of his usual words. He doubts there are very few except scientists who need a word like penumbra. It is a word the mariner remembers from something he read long ago; it comes to mind whenever the word “eclipse” is mentioned.

It is the appropriate word for our thoughts about the Advocacy at Home (AH) series of posts. AH sets an advocated form of behavior; it sets standards for that behavior. AH is, in fact, a law book. It is a law book without an end.

There is no line between advocacy and no advocacy. We may have a lifestyle that involves low grade advocacy, that is, taking note of an issue and having an opinion, and then have something else catch our attention. We may have strong feelings about a subject, idea, or activity and may physically react in some way to counter the situation. But there always is advocacy; else, prejudice and accomplishment would not exist.

The mariner looks back at the brutality and stupidity of Homo sapiens referenced in AH. Humans are no different than any other animal except humans are capable of malice aforethought, destroying just to destroy, or destroying because it is easier than assuring optimum or fair conclusions. Defenders of this characteristic claim it is done in the name of progress – akin to Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest.’ Progress for whom? Perhaps not progress for humans. Malice aforethought is part genetic and part sociopathic.

Referenced in the post, Po Pouree, from letters to the editor in Scientific American, Robert E Marx responded to an article about why Neandertals became extinct (apologies for repetition of earlier posts):

“Kate Wong’s suppositions about what brought about Neandertals’ extinction in “Neandertal Minds” are contrary to the known history of anatomically modern Homo sapiens [that is, us]. Her assertions that Neandertals were just out competed and that the 1.5 to 2.1 percent Neandertal DNA within people outside of Africa is the result of occasional “dalliances” would be historically unlikely.

The most likely scenario would involve waves of immigrating anatomically modern humans taking over land and causing death by plunder and disease, as Europeans discovering the New World did. And it would be naïve to think that our Neandertal DNA was the result of consensual dalliances when rape went hand in hand with pillage of every other civilization.”

From Walt Kelly’s comic strip, Pogo, April 22, 1970.

Putting aside our treatment of other species, consider how we treat human beings – our own species.

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834-1902). The historian and moralist, otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

The letter was written at the end of the Victorian era when the Edwardian era was emerging and which peaked during the years of 1901 – 1910, then slowly disappearing as the First World War drew near. That was a time very similar to the United States today: a very few were incredibly wealthy and the rest of Great Britain was in a crisis.

Is it true that if the reader or the mariner were given absolute power, we would be “bad men?” At the least, would we be immoral? Would our arrogance and indifference be obvious? Vladimir Putin has absolute power. Would he be less immoral if he had no power? Assume we had absolute power over one person. Would we abuse that person? Would we, in a twisted desire for absolute power be like Phillip Garrido, who kidnapped and kept Jaycee Dugard in a backyard shed for 18 years and had two children by her? Famous studies of power over another person show that, indeed, immoral if not violent behavior will occur.

What is it about power that is so destructive?

The oldest reference to rule by law was written by the reformist King Urukagina of city-state Lagash in Mesopotamia during the 24th century BC. It consisted of a list of rules that were generally beneficial to the very poor and the labor class. The rich were curtailed in their abuses by what the mariner calls “Clintonesque restraints,” that is, in exchange for paying silver to their laborers, one could have 1,500 sheep instead of 500. Good people die young – King Urukagina was overthrown seven years later by his neighbor city-state Urek.

The reader would think, after 4,600 years, humans would have mastered the three elements of ruling by law. The three elements are power, intervention of power, and individuals. If intervention or individuals weren’t present, who would need rule of law? Perhaps the less powerful would lust after those who may be more powerful. Intervention would become battles between powerful people and individuals would become a commodity like chickens. Isn’t that called the Dark Ages (500 – 1100 AD)?

The reason for this run around Robin Hood’s barn is to highlight the similarities between AH and rule by law. We must be firm, committed and assertive in our AH laws. It is the only way to fix our dysfunctional nation.

Earlier it was mentioned that there were three elements to rule by law: power, intervention of power, and individuals. The dysfunction in the US is that it is the powerful that write the rules for intervention of power. Individuals are out of the loop. So AH is a beginning. The more individuals that create their AH rule books and enforce them, the sooner individuals may take their place in the triumvirate known as rule of law.

– – – –

To read other parts of the advocacy series type ‘advocacy’ in the search box on the Home Page.

Ancient Mariner

As the World Turns so does American Culture

The city of Sandusky, Ohio, population 26,000, has swapped out Columbus Day for Election Day and declared it a paid holiday. Thus far, only 250 city employees are affected — “But we’re very hopeful that the message that it sends will be contagious,” the city manager said. [NPR]

-> Mariner notes in passing such a small adjustment to American culture. He remembers Columbus Day being a big deal which brought a few days of holiday spirit and even a few parades. On the other hand, democracy shows signs of rumbling from its grave, insisting voting is more important than Chris.

– – – –

OMAR IN HOT WATER — Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is under fire for a recent tweet seen by some as anti-Semitic. The Minnesota Democrat, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, suggested Sunday night that Republican support for Israel is fueled by campaign donations from Jewish lobbying groups. While Omar has been repeatedly attacked by the GOP for her critical views toward Israel, her latest remarks earned rebukes from members of her own party. “Congresswoman Omar’s statements are deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” said freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.). [Politico]

-> Three cheers for diversity. God bless the New Bunch (freshman Representatives). The Muslims have been on the spot for decades; now the Jews. Let’s throw in the Mormons, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Native Americans and while we’re at it, the Zen crowd, too. The schisms and protectionist behavior between these groups have lasted far too long. What is the common thread of humanity among them? As for Jewish politics, well, politics is politics; money is a religion, too.

– – – –

Few species live past the point they can produce offspring. Why do humans?

Anthropologists have had reasons to suspect that a mother’s help allowed their daughters to have more children. New research into 17th century genealogical records backs that up, showing that a grandmother who lived close by allowed a mother to start having kids sooner, reduced child mortality, and resulted on average in 1.75 more children. But another study found those benefits only existed if the grandmother was young enough to help out.[1] [NPR]

-> Monkeys around the world have known this all along. The role of family matriarch is an important role in simian colonies. Mariner makes note of this because it is another indicator that worldwide human reproduction is undergoing a change. Not because grandmothers are too old – well, maybe, as actuary tables creep into the 80’s – but for some reason every modern, industrialized nation is suffering from a lack of citizen replacement. A report from the United Nations says:

“Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the demand for goods and services, such as housing, transportation and social protection, as well as family structures and intergenerational ties.

“According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision, the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.”

Mariner continues to stumble over bits of information that are related to an increasing ratio of senior citizens to younger ages. For example, the Calhoun studies with overpopulated mice showed that reproductive ability in the females failed as the mouse society began to crumble; the issue of excessive numbers of humans which disrupts the environmental balance of the planet is another area; continuous articles about the financial support for the elderly because of fewer taxes from younger generations, and even the collapse of day-to-day life in Japan.

Japanese childbearing is currently estimated to be nearly 35 % below replacement level. According United Nations Population Statistics estimates, these demographic trends will drive Japan’s total population down from 127 million to 114 million by 2030 – a level affecting economic stability.

Sex ratio at birth has declined significantly in Japan and in U.S. whites, but not for African Americans, for whom sex ratio remains significantly lower than that of whites. The male proportion of fetal death has increased overall in Japan and in the United States.

Here’s a note for Donald’s Base: If current trends continue, the population of the United States will rise to 438 million in 2050, from 296 million in 2005, and 82% of the increase will be due to immigrants arriving from 2005 to 2050 and their U.S.-born descendants, according to new projections developed by the Pew Research Center. Unfortunately, Japan will not benefit from immigration and faces critical economic issues by 2050.

– – – –

Guns in America, through the eyes of the next generation.

A year ago, a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Afterward, students at that school set off an unprecedented wave of youth activism for gun control — and eventually against it as well. NPR interviewed teens across the country to document their relationship with guns — including sport shooters, aspiring soldiers, gun control activists, those who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence and those who live with the threat of it every day.

What emerged were portraits of the budding political consciousness of the next generation, and of America’s complex relationship with firearms.[2] [NPR]

-> Mariner wishes the New Bunch well. They have their hands full – guns are a religion, too.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] Read more at http://click.et.npr.org/?qs=3bb04c48d17980f1972efdceec6ec1537d4d4e3ab45bb9a862a531c7dfa237876a73f7abd948a02320f46b7955fd8fd6f61d69902f4ebf7a

[2] For more see: http://click.et.npr.org/?qs=3bb04c48d17980f1a39e73822fcf25413dd2313a7e25c0c3fd75f7abdfc31b2b11dcc11e26a733603b3af38b925bd27af45381a5576a42b6

Caught between Old and New

Agriculture scientists report that the weaker one’s scientific knowledge, the angrier they are about genetically modified crops. Previous studies have found that, while genetically modified organism (GMO) opponents demand more research into the foods, no amount of science can convince them the products are safe. “We have to get people to recognize gaps in their knowledge before we try to teach them new things and have a meaningful discussion,” one researcher said.

Mariner notices that the phenomenon of rebelling because something is not familiar or seems to countermand established values is common across any discipline including behavior seemingly not becoming to the standard of the day. For example, mariner, a registered old fogey, resists the use of smart phones and social media. He claims social interaction is minimized, human importance is trivialized, and the loss of privacy also means the loss of independent thought. Yet, smart phones are universally used around the world and social media is how millions communicate – to the extent that POTUS uses Twitter to issue national policy, without talking to any human.

Similar to the detractors of GMO, mariner will never accept the values of future technology no matter how hard Neil Degrasse Tyson tries to persuade him. Mariner suggests Neil watch the Matrix movies. Mariner stands his ground as a primate, not as a digitized asset. Yes, he knows already he is becoming an anachronism but he is comfortable with that.

The pattern of resistance demonstrated by the GMO resisters and mariner is universal. One wonders how the Amish survive. The Amish are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships with Swiss German Anabaptist origins. They are closely related to, but distinct from, Mennonite churches. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. They place their beliefs on the Holy Bible, isolating themselves from the rest of society is one of the key Amish beliefs. They think secular culture has a polluting effect which promotes pride, greed, immorality and materialism. Therefore, to avoid the use of television, radios, computers, and modern appliances, they do not hook up to the electrical grid.

A hardy culture that equates religious value to physically working hard, it offers a slap at the “English” (non-Amish): “If a dollar doesn’t do what it used to, remember that hardly anyone else does either.”

Finally, in the midst of worldwide turmoil in politics, economy and human equality, one sees rebellion for similar reasons – shattered beliefs and protocols, cultural imbalance in economy, and ignorance of the reality represented by modern advances in science and technology. The reader is free to place blame on numerous causes both for ignorance and unpreparedness for new concepts.

Mariner chooses education. One cannot blame education in isolation because it is subject to politics and other resistance to newness by conservative reactions to radical thought. But one must take note that the core knowledge, that is, the curriculum, is no longer appropriate to the world that its students face. If one is to be up-to-date on scientific knowledge, one must at least be aware of the difference between Einsteinian reality and the reality of quantum theory. See, most of you don’t know but it is easily understood and sets the direction for all future science. Check your smartphone.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Subscriptions

Just a sampling from the many email subscriptions mariner receives. Perhaps one of them may provide new insight.

֎3-fold increase
If you’ve noticed something different happening these past 290 million years, it’s not just you — the rate of asteroids striking Earth and the moon have increased sharply, from once every 3 million years to once every 1 million years. Be careful out there. [The Guardian]

֎TOP LOBBYIST SPENDERS (FOURTH QUARTER ONLY)
National Association of Realtors: $19 million
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $16 million
Open Society Policy Center: $10.9 million
U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $9.5 million
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $6 million
Business Roundtable: $5.7 million
American Hospital Association: $5.5 million
Google: $4.9 million
American Medical Association: $4.7 million
Comcast: $3.9 million
Boeing: $3.9 million
NCTA — The Internet & Television Association: $3.8 million
Amazon: $3.7 million
CTIA: $3.6 million
National Association of Broadcasters: $3.3 million
AT&T: $3.3 million
Southern Company: $3.3 million
General Dynamics: $3.2 million
Altria: $3.2 million
ExxonMobil: $3.1 million

֎$100 million vs. $6 million
The federal government response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida was “faster and more generous” than its response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, according to new research out of the University of Michigan. “The variation in the responses was not commensurate with storm severity and need after landfall in the case of Puerto Rico compared with Texas and Florida,” the researchers wrote. Specifically, survivors in Texas and Florida received about $100 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds over a nine-day period; Maria survivors received about $6 million in that time. [CBS News]

֎There’s only about 10 years’ worth of helium left in Earth’s reserves, if humans don’t start changing their balloon-releasing behavior soon.[LiveScience]

֎Thousands of years ago, 50,000 acres of glacial ice crusted Venezuela’s peaks. By 1910, maps showed that these glaciers had shrunk to 2,500 acres. By 2008, fewer than 80 acres remained.[The Atlantic]

֎More than 70 percent of House members
The House of Representatives is, ostensibly, representative. I mean, it’s in the name. But its members tend to follow specific and elite career paths before joining the body. More than 70 percent of current House members, for example, were lawyers in private practice, businesspeople or medical professionals. As a result, the House is “much, much richer than the people it represents.” [The New York Times]

֎Senate Republicans have such little appetite for another dreaded shutdown that they may try to stop it from happening again, report Burgess, Bres and Sarah. Trump hasn’t ruled out closing down the government if Congress can’t reach a deal, which could spark an internal revolt in the GOP. “I did not love the shutdown. I wouldn’t think anybody would have another shutdown,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). [Politico]

Ancient Mariner

Mother Nature Continued

The last post recognized how much and how rapidly change is occurring in our global society. It introduced four key areas that drive society: economics, sociology, religion and psychology. The last post addressed economics and sociology. The background theme was that humans are bound to behave the way Mother Nature created them no matter how sophisticated the extra-human inventions and liberties therefrom may seem.

Economics is based on a leverage of group behavior and its rewards – not mathematically but as a group of H. sapiens participants. Lifestyle and the conveniences of electricity, combustion and modern chemistry draw Mother Nature’s primates away from the normal physical environment for which they were designed. Each and every new invention, including telecommunication advances, which draw the brain away as well, have created a society that will change overnight to adapt to the newest contrivance. Yet ties to primate limitations cause stress on the relationship between basic human characteristics and omnipotent domination by a non-primate world. Mother Nature is watching.

This post will present the last two areas that drive society: religion and psychology.

– – – –

Religion, stripped of specific theologies, doctrines and rituals, is how humans relate to a reality that is beyond their understanding and control. Mariner’s use of the term ‘Mother Nature’ is typical shorthand for the Universe and its parochial characteristics on Planet Earth. In a subtle way, if one wants to stabilize one’s psyche, the individual must feel in unison with the universe; one must be linked to the power that permits existence. Throughout time, H. sapiens has developed interpretations for being in accord with the universe. Various interpretations have evolved in history depending on when and where and why – hence different theologies, doctrines and rituals.

Today, religion is caught in the same rampant change as the rest of society. The advancement of science, universal knowledge, an awareness of global issues, and instant communication has altered the reasons for religion in daily life. A human has been elevated from parochial wisdom and ritual to a point where a world view is available – even the kind of world among billions of other worlds in the Universe. Theologies are struggling.

Joseph Campbell, a renowned anthropologist, used the term ‘myth,’ suggesting that the myths or understandings between humans and the powers of creation that developed from 6000BC to 1000AD are no longer de rigueur. Wars in the name of religion (if only in name) have existed almost continuously because religion is as important as any human endeavor; religious sanctity is discriminatory in its ethics and morals. Today, however, situation ethics, a term coined in the 1960’s, is prevailing as a general doctrine. The new God is not anthropomorphic, it is the Universe.

– – – –

Psychology incorporates terms like behavior, personality, maturity, compassion, fear, greed, self-awareness, emotions, and many other terms including those that describe emotional disorders like neurotic, schizophrenic, arrested development, etc. For the purposes of this post, its broadest interpretation is used: psychology is the response mechanism that reacts to sensory input.

Despite more obvious influence on behavior by modern technology (don’t get mariner started on smart phones), the true threat is the displacement of human, plain old H. sapiens control over its own behavior and priorities. To keep from prattling on, mariner offers the global, environmental conflict between MN, her primates and that of the non-human influence of devices made from electricity and chemistry which discount the environment and the behavior of species within that environment: the John Henry syndrome.

As mentioned in the previous post, mariner suggests that the global war for humanity is represented as a battle for control between governments (A version of control that focuses on primate need first) and corporations (a version of control that uses primates as objects of profit). Even simpler, it is a battle between money and human liberties based on MN’s creations. This conflict is of immense proportions, truly a global conflict over the future of life on the planet.

Today, this conflict, hidden beneath keyboard games and meaningless conveniences, is fully engaged. It is a battle between the corporations and the common life of normal H. sapiens – who owns the rights to human life?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Mother Nature

No one can deny that the times they are a-changin’. They are changing in every corner of economic, sociologic, religious and psychologic areas. Mariner is a gardener and he relates cultural change in human societies to the seasonal cycle of plants, birds, insects and mammals of all sizes. What all these living things have in common is that Mother Nature is a bitch – it’s her way or the highway and often she makes the choice herself.

From a less extreme perspective, humans are unique among the flora and fauna and as such can manipulate Mother Nature (MN) just a bit. MN notices but is tolerant for a while until things obviously aren’t going her way. At first MN sits and smirks as humans pretend they are independent of their own biological place in her environment. Perhaps she hopes that humans will learn their place in the larger reality of things but alas, they never do. Humans have this disorder called hubris (excessive pride and self-importance).

Today, humans are in disarray, in conflict with MN and dismissive of the behavioral rules of the human species. To varying degrees most of today’s humans hoard if they can. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Anthropologists have identified a characteristic in Homo sapiens that differentiated them from Neanderthals – H. sapiens was able to construct multiple roles for members of a small group which in turn generated more resources. Further, the rules for sharing reflected the amount of resources available. Had an individual hoarded in the face of group need, they would have been driven from the group and possibly killed according to primitive, H. sapiens roles of behavior. So in one sentence we can make a generalization about economics: If the rules aren’t fair, H. sapiens is going to take umbrage. That’s how MN designed her primates. That is a brief explanation why most industrialized nations are having difficulty with their citizenry.

It is also the reason why many humans are promoting the idea of income distribution that is, in over simplified terms, taxing the wealthy class to redistribute GDP to lower income classes. Whether governments can rein in corporate profits is the battlefield.

– – – –

Sociologically speaking, behavior didn’t change much in the good old days. The good old days ran from 90,000 years ago until electricity was invented in 1600 and combustion was harnessed around 1800. Before those dates, humans were permitted to toy with seven tools: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. There were simpler tools like the rock but the advantage of a rock can be distributed among the seven tools depending on how one uses it. The most significant change in the good old days was the enslavement of animals like horses and water buffalo. Still, the animals had to make do operating a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. This was fine with MN because the energy still came from H. sapiens or other MN creations. To quote Tennessee Ernie Ford, “muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.” Or to quote Pete Seeger,

“The man that invented the stream drill

Thought he was mighty fine,

But John Henry made fifteen feet;

The steam drill only made nine. Lord, Lord.”

Alas, John Henry died and the glory of human capacity was forever diminished by combustion. How we measure our worth changed, ergo our social values changed and changed and changed ever more rapidly as H. sapiens forgot its MN roots and sought existence beyond primate reality. The path of combustion has been rude to MN. Beginning around 1850, humans began interfering with MN’s environment. She has noticed.

Manner often has pondered that the popularity of sports is because of a deep desire to have one’s value based on genuine human capacity – like John Henry.

Continued in the next post.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Just to be Human

Mariner and his wife moved to this small town when they retired about ten years ago. Culturally, they were dropped into a foreign country. Fortunately, mariner’s wife grew up in the town and had a sense of the culture. Mariner had been a consultant project manager who assisted corporations when they converted their management structures to take advantage of the new capabilities of multidimensional database technology.

His work took him all over the US and even to Taiwan for a computer upgrade so the Taiwanese could build modern jet fighter airplanes. Mariner and his wife owned a number of properties that kept them busy as well; and two children who took root far away. All this description is provided to give the reader some insight into the culture shock of moving to a small Iowa town of 900 folks in the middle of endless cornfields.

Let mariner say up front that the town folk are quite friendly and supportive. The town moves at a slow pace; the conversations and concerns do not march to a time schedule; a better term may be ‘timeless’. There are no complex responsibilities. Mariner had to learn how to live in his new town.

One interesting adaptation was to understand how residents referred to house and family locations. Large portions of the town can trace families back to the end of the 19th century. One is identified by their relatives and where they live or lived and whose house it was before that and before that when someone married someone else. Most older residents grew up in the town before it had street signs. Mariner, however, habitually mapped and organized the town by street names and sections so he could find his way around.

When mariner had conversations, the resident would say, “You know where Martha lives; she lives in Frank Merten’s house over a block from Aunt Dorothy’s house.”

“You have an Aunt Dorothy?” mariner inquires.

“No, everybody just calls her “Aunt.’

Mariner is further helped by the resident describing the color of the roof across the street. Haltingly mariner tries to convert the descriptions to a location with a street name, which block and intersection. It has taken some time for mariner to adapt to a new interpretation of both people and location. Even cemeteries are identified by who is buried in them rather than the official name of the cemetery.

To this day mariner is aware that he is not a ‘townie.’ But his independent view of the culture allows him to experience its charm and to understand what the national culture has sacrificed in the name of progress. Most notable is the importance of people as the primary definition of the town. One is not defined by terms like suburbanite or ‘west side’ or neighborhood class. The prime identifier is an individual and that individual’s role in the life of the town: “Remember when Frank worked at John Deere?” sets a timeline. There still is a residue of past generations when townie and farmer were discriminatory and whether one’s ancient town ancestors were movers and shakers but this is noticeable only among the town’s most elderly.

There is an advantage to growing up in this rural culture; it provides time just to be human. There’s an old tale about the plough horse, now retired and replaced by a young horse, who every morning still comes to the barn door to be harnessed. How one grows up is a life-setting experience. Do today’s young families have time just to be human?

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Humanism – a Threatened Awareness

 

The last post about not touching each other’s lives is symptomatic of our time. There was a time when a person needed another person to help with life, to generate a sense of wholeness. Granted and without question, a fulfilled life is still a universal experience but, for example, when one looks for a new friend recommended by Facebook, something subtle is missing. Increasingly, we tend to turn to frozen food solutions rather than bake from scratch.

Mariner certainly leverages the huge amount of free data available on the Internet. He can become, for practical purposes, knowledgeable in any subject. Does that define him as a valuable commodity? Does it reflect a life’s work through time commitment? Does it define him as a scholar with years of study, reading and human dialogue? No. The Internet and the cloud is a giant frozen food factory. The missing dimension is the three-dimensional experience as we move through time, space, commitment, people, and the finer edges of worthiness, sympathy, empathy and experiencing the ethos of humanness.

Anthony Bourdain had a television series called “Parts Unknown” wherein he traveled around the world visiting unique cultures and sampling the differences in cuisine. Mariner began watching the series in 2013. Tony freely admitted his difficulties with drugs and alcohol which set a framework for watching Tony as much as where he went. Over the years viewers watched as Tony mellowed, became less mechanical and eventually looked forward to the opportunity to share life with his series guests. Tony died on June 8, 2018. No matter how efficient a process is, it takes time for a human being to become valuable – not only to others but to one’s self.

The recognizable human creature has been around for about 200,000 years. The story of those years is one where very slowly humans mastered the environment and invented tools that expanded human capability. In recent times, say about the last 3,000 years, tools have become more sophisticated and have altered core behavior in humans. Just a few oversimplified examples reflect this: There was a time when electricity didn’t exist. Life was simple, time-consuming, and required dependence on others to survive. Then suddenly there were combustion engines; care and feeding of livestock and the time it took to maintain transportation for the family and the time it took to travel 25 miles to the nearest village to visit other humans suddenly required a few minutes at a gas station and a half-hour drive – no other human or animal interaction required.

Today, with the advances in telecommunication and labor-saving devices, humans live history on fast-forward. Humans don’t darn socks anymore; they don’t even take the time to go to a store to buy them, which requires human interaction, time spent and what today would be called inconvenience; just a click on a keypad – socks delivered. Soon, socks will have a tiny microprocessor that decides when the socks need to be replaced. Who needs a keypad? Further, who needs themselves? The socks run our lives, needing only to use our feet to sustain commerce.

Humanism is a belief that focuses on the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasizes common human needs, and seeks solely rational ways of solving human problems. As humans move through to another era with many confrontations (overcrowding, elitism, racism, economic failure, environmental degradation, and displacement of human behavior and activity by robots and AI), our conscious awareness of worthiness, sympathy, empathy and experiencing the ethos of humanness is left wanting. If sensitivity to other humans as an end product, and the most important one at that, is not practiced, human society will diminish. Humans will be reduced to interactions with their socks.

This is the commercial. For all of the 200,000 years humans have been around, they have a tool for sustaining humanism. Pass it forward. Readers may overlook this term because mariner pushes it so incessantly. It is a tool for the human spirit. Deliberately look for a way to make another person’s human experience better. As walking is to exercise, passing it forward is to human spirit. Further, seek ways to participate in group activities – everything from Tai Chi to bowling to square dancing to parties for no reason.

We will defy the power of the sock.

Ancient Mariner