Thought Provoking

Mariner and his wife consider The Atlantic the premier magazine in print today. The Atlantic provides thoughtful, rational and valuable articles that cover society from one end to the other. Below, mariner presents the opening portion of an article by Eli Cook that tells about how in the 1700’s we measured people not by their worth in dollars but rather by other qualities.

The article starts here:

Money and markets have been around for thousands of years. Yet as central as currency has been to so many civilizations, people in societies as different as ancient Greece, imperial China, medieval Europe, and colonial America did not measure residents’ well-being in terms of monetary earnings or economic output.

In the mid-19th century, the United States—and to a lesser extent other industrializing nations such as England and Germany—departed from this historical pattern. It was then that American businesspeople and policymakers started to measure progress in dollar amounts, tabulating social welfare based on people’s capacity to generate income. This fundamental shift, in time, transformed the way Americans appraised not only investments and businesses but also their communities, their environment, and even themselves.

Today, well-being may seem hard to quantify in a nonmonetary way, but indeed other metrics—from incarceration rates to life expectancy—have held sway in the course of the country’s history. The turn away from these statistics, and toward financial ones, means that rather than considering how economic developments could meet Americans’ needs, the default stance—in policy, business, and everyday life—is to assess whether individuals are meeting the exigencies of the economy.

At the turn of the 19th century, it did not appear that financial metrics were going to define Americans’ concept of progress. In 1791, then-Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton wrote to various Americans across the country, asking them to calculate the moneymaking capacities of their farms, workshops, and families so that he could use that data to create economic indicators for his famous Report on Manufactures. Hamilton was greatly disappointed by the paltry responses he received and had to give up on adding price statistics to his report. Apparently, most Americans in the early republic did not see, count, or put a price on the world as he did.

Until the 1850s, in fact, by far the most popular and dominant form of social measurement in 19th-century America (as in Europe) were a collection of

social indicators known then as “moral statistics,” which quantified such phenomena as prostitution, incarceration, literacy, crime, education, insanity, pauperism, life expectancy, and disease. While these moral statistics were laden with paternalism, they nevertheless focused squarely on the physical, social, spiritual, and mental condition of the American people. For better or for worse, they placed human beings at the center of their calculating vision. Their unit of measure was bodies and minds, never dollars and cents.

Yet around the middle of the century, money-based economic indicators began to gain prominence, eventually supplanting moral statistics as the leading benchmarks of American prosperity. . .

. . . What happened in the mid-19th century that led to this historically unprecedented pricing of progress? The short answer is straightforward enough: Capitalism happened. In the first few decades of the Republic, the United States developed into a commercial society, but not yet a fully capitalist one. One of the main elements that distinguishes capitalism from other forms of social and cultural organization is not just the existence of markets but also of capitalized investment, the act through which basic elements of society and life—including natural resources, technological discoveries, works of art, urban spaces, educational institutions, human beings, and nations—are transformed (or “capitalized”) into income-generating assets that are valued and allocated in accordance with their capacity to make money and yield future returns. Save for a smattering of government-issued bonds and insurance companies, such a capitalization of everyday life was mostly absent until the mid-19th century. There existed few assets in early America through which one could invest wealth and earn an annual return.

By the Progressive Era, the logic of money could be found everywhere.

Capitalization, then, was crucial to the rise of economic indicators. As upper-class Americans in both the North and South began to plow their wealth into novel financial assets, they began to imagine not only their portfolio but their entire society as a capitalized investment and its inhabitants (free or enslaved) as inputs of human capital that could be plugged into output-maximizing equations of monetized growth. . .[1]

Stop article.

Mariner finds it almost inconceivable that commerce was once valued by how much it helped common man. Yet this concept existed at the beginning of our nation. Is this the concept that must return in order to balance fairness and human dignity in the future? Is that even possible? It is the nature of capitalism that more money and investment make more money – and limits human dignity to nothing more than a source to make profit for someone else. Common man may not be chattel slaves but it sure sounds the same. Are common people slaves to capitalism as an investment? In 1860, the nation fought a war about this notion. Mariner always thought the movie Matrix[2] was an allegorical representation of capitalism; humans are born and placed in a casket for life to be used as batteries. An artificial reality is fed into their brains so they think they are living a normal life. Don’t let this image frighten you; thanks to television, computers, the Internet and Amazon.com, it is how we live now.

In a related article from The Atlantic,[3] economic trust becomes a measure of benefit to the common man. Intellectually, ‘trust’ could include other values to the common man as well; not the same thing as pre-capitalist commerce but at least a distraction from capitalism.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] How Money Became the Measure of Everything: Two centuries ago, America pioneered a way of thinking that puts human well-being in economic terms. The Atlantic, Eli Cook Oct 19, 2017. See:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/10/money-measure-everything-pricing-progress/543345/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-daily-101917&silverid=MzEzNjI5ODkxNjczS0

 

[2] Released in 1999 with sequels; available online.

[3] Reimagining Money: What if markets were designed to build trust instead of wealth? See:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/03/douglas-rushkoff-reimagining-money/472335/

 

Each Brain Talks Differently

We are not aware that we talk the way our brain thinks. For example, if you are a good administrator, it’s because your brain thinks procedurally. If you feel a duty to always complete tasks, it’s because your brain thinks in terms of accomplishment. If you are good at abstract conversation, it’s because your brain thinks in an abstract manner.

This approach is different than the old version of ‘why’ people, ‘how’ people and ‘what’ people that described how people solve problems. The ‘talking’ brain approach is a combination of thought and communication – the vocalization of thought rather than the application of problem-solving.

Before we begin, mariner wants to emphasize, quite adamantly, that none of this relates to intelligence! The subject centers on persona and the manner of communicating within that persona.

To consider the relationship between brain and communication, we must be aware of our standing prejudices toward people. Politics, interpersonal experiences, and psychological comparisons easily affect our interpersonal communication but the goal here is to focus only on the influence of the brain as it attempts to communicate.

Mariner stumbled into this pop-psych approach when contemplating his own speech patterns. The two vocalization patterns that provoked this line of thought are the mariner’s inability to participate in ‘show and tell’ conversations, and secondly, the ability to listen closely to what certain people are saying. To the second pattern, a clear example is Hillary Clinton: Hillary’s accomplishments are lauded, her ethic is humanistic, and her work is thoughtful and substantive. Mariner holds her in appropriate recognition – but he cannot listen to her. After one paragraph he finds his concentration is wanting and often drifts into other thoughts. He has known this about a number of men and women over time but only recently has he noticed it as a major behavioral issue.[1]

The first pattern, conversational skills (show and tell, S&T), is most obvious at social gatherings. Everyone is eager to tell about an experience, share knowledge about things, places, and reminisce about the past. There is nothing wrong with this social sharing. Certainly it is rewarding and fulfilling to the sharing person and further is a form of inclusion and acceptance by everyone. Mariner listens . . . but mariner is not provoked to participate.

He wonders why this affect exists. Certainly he enjoys the friendship, he enjoys inclusion within the speaker’s realm, and he respects the speakers as wholesome and valuable people. He just can’t respond in kind. Most obvious in one-to-one S&T conversations, when the speaker pauses with an expectation of a response, mariner is hard pressed to continue the dialogue.

Mariner began to pay attention to his listening, speaking and thinking patterns as a unit. He began to realize that he is glib and filled with active thinking when the subject is about philosophy, sociology, cultural machinations and other broad, thematic issues. Clearly, he is not a procedural thinker. Aha! This is why he cannot listen to Hillary. Hillary is quite intently a procedural thinker. Thoughts, solutions and the attendant speech are bound to procedures rather than to the ideology that validates them. He and Hillary are of mutual intent but on different trains. All of us are bound to speak our mind – making each of us different than others and therefore susceptible to unnecessary prejudice.

These differences are important. The difference between Hillary and Bernie is how they think, ergo, how they speak about goals and objectives. The humanistic content of their speech was similar but their brains considered different perspectives for a solution.

No expert for sure but mariner has a new insight into how prejudices grow. How we receive others and categorize them is heavily dependent on their persona and the projection of that persona into speech. It is a genetically mandated behavior that we classify other individuals in some manner. It is how we treat other individuals that counts. Your brain and its accompanying communication skills have a large role to play in that treatment.

Consider how you accept the personalities on ‘Big Bang Theory’. They’re bound by the way their minds think – an element of persona that the actor must understand. Have you mentally classified them in terms of your opinion rather than accepting without judgment their persona and communication as a normal human being whose brain thinks differently than yours?

Our President, too, has an eccentric way of communicating. That eccentricity is understood only if we can understand how his brain thinks. Doing so makes us realize that his brain is damaged and incomplete.

In every moment of communication, we must acknowledge a person’s persona and communication without prejudice. If we must, we must reserve prejudice based on acts and ethics, not the way their brain talks.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] We must discount Hillary’s responses to interviews because the content is written by speech writers and often is too familiar to listen to again. Nevertheless, over time and given the focus of her public service, her thoughts are fully contained in each sentence without the need for speculative content.

The Basic Donald

If one believes in an Old Testament God, one would join Job on his pile of dung and lament the incursion of Donald at such a critical moment in global history. Change in culture is painful enough. Why, God, have you visited this plague upon us?

Fortunately, the Wizard of Oz facade is wearing away rapidly in recent weeks. Voters who are capable of comparative thinking have begun to see that a terrible situation is at hand. Truly, the United States and the global community are witnessing a bull in a china shop. We have learned the following about Donald:

  • He is narcissistic. Donald is incapable of sympathy and empathy. This condition greatly diminishes both his judgment and his decisions; Donald can only be King. A White House informer said the most irritating event of all in recent days was the appearance of Rex Tillerson’s face on television instead of Donald’s.
  • Donald’s motivations are simplistic and unaffected by the reaction of others. A blatant example is his desire to eliminate Barack Obama from the history books. Beginning with the birther attack and continuing immediately upon becoming President, it is obvious that Barack is his nemesis. Donald desires only to purge Obama’s policies and submit unreasoned Executive Decisions but does not have the ability to supersede Obama policy with newer policy; that would require an awareness of other people’s needs, that is, political motivation. Donald is not political – he is King.
  • The only interpersonal skill available to Donald is character assassination. Think back… Has Donald ever defended a policy in all his pontifications? No. He can only attack character, not substance. His latest example is tweeting that “Liddle Bob Corker was set up by the New York Times…”
  • Being King, Donald can do no wrong. In every interaction – without fail, not even one exception – Donald responds to failure by placing the blame on someone else or another situation. The reason Donald must always have a scapegoat is it is the only situation where he can apply character assassination; for example, ‘Fake News’ and Congress. However much we may wish that Donald would consciously acknowledge personal failure, he never will. His ego cannot allow it.
  • Donald has no allegiance to anyone or anything. His narcissism does not understand loyalty to anyone but himself. Evidence is the ease with which he switches back and forth on his own comments and his broken promises to others – to say nothing of nuclear war if that is what it takes to win the match of character assassination with Kim Jung un.

In another time with a different Congress, Donald would be under impeachment proceedings by now. However, the current Congress needs the Trump base to survive elections in 2018. This Congress is one of the entities that feel the pressure of change in today’s world. Members have lived a life under Reagan economic policies that are brittle and dysfunctional today. Members are old. Members have served in an era of abundant wealth and kleptocracy. They hide behind Donald – a windbreak against the inevitable winds of change.

Ancient Mariner

Health Care – Captive of Capitalism

 

Mariner wrote a post recently that said the first thing to fix in health care is its costs. In the nineties, administrators and a new breed of eager MBAs decided to change how health care was billed. Instead of the old-fashioned idea of billing based on cost, health services henceforth will bill what the market will bear.

Mariner visited a health care person (doctor) who prescribed a medicine (pharmaceutical industry) that costs $10,000 each month. Health insurance companies don’t cover this medicine – even they recognize fraud when they see it. Mariner does not intend to accept a health care policy that says, for all intents and purposes, “Wait. Don’t die yet; let us take your assets first – then you can die.” Mariner has no intention of following this advice.

Nevertheless, Chicken Little is pacing about. The destructive President, GOP controlled Congress, state governments, and a conservative Supreme Court bode disregard for common class quality of life in the future. The primary advisors to Congress are the health insurance companies who desire only to maximize profits with no regard for social responsibility – after all, it’s a health service… Of course, all US governments are not interested in social responsibility either – only profit. Obama took the leash off Big Pharma in order to pass the Affordable Care Act; someone must catch them soon and put them back on the inadequate leash they had.

Health insurer CEOs made big bucks in 2016:

Michael Neidorff     $32,161,754

Centene Corp.

Bruce Broussard    $17,019,300

Humana

Mark Bertolini        $41,676,887

Aetna

Stephen Hemsley  $33,368,652

UnitedHealth Group

Joseph Swedish      $17,057,940

Anthem

David Cordani        $21,990,392

Cigna Corp.

Dr. J. Mario Molina  $3,816,395

Molina Healthcare

Kenneth Burdick      $4,687,059                             Source: U.S. Securities and

WellCare Health Plans                                            Exchange Commission documents

Ancient Mariner

Heaven is Taking a Beating

Way back in time, before mariner was a grandfather, he worked for a living. He had an interesting job as a consultant who designed computer system upgrades for large corporations then developed the project parameters for accomplishing that upgrade.

It was a busy job that had a lot to do with stress, timelines and budgets. Consequently, for a number of years in January, mariner would take the family sailing in the Caribbean Sea – specifically up and down the Lesser Antilles. Mariner often has said that the Lesser Antilles is where Heaven touches the Earth.

But storms have taken a devastating toll on the northern group of islands, the Leeward Islands. Most of us know about major islands like the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands but there are many dozens of smaller islands that virtually are uninhabitable at this point. Populations on these small islands always have been fragile and originally consisted of Arawak and Carib Indians who migrated from South America. During the period 1990-2000, there was fascination and joy in sailing to various islands to discover differences in dialect, cuisine, and subtle, unsophisticated economies. The islanders mariner met then were survivors of centuries of brutal colonialism beginning with Columbus and the Spanish invasion in the early 1500’s. Even today, most islands are protectorates of many European nations and the United States.

Sadly, at least to mariner, a new age of colonialism has invaded the Antilles from Puerto Rico to Granada: tourism. Over the past twenty years wealthy folks have purchased whole islands, destroying the cultural uniqueness of those islands. Further and even more damaging to uniqueness, large tourism corporations like cruise ships and spas (one example is Sandals) buy up habitable portions of islands thereby completely wiping out Carib culture.

When mariner sailed the Lesser Antilles, there was a sense of experiencing a natural bond between nature and humanity. Though meager, the islands were balanced in the needs both of humans and the island ecology.

Mariner finds it painful to watch the cruise ship and spa advertisements on television. It is profane. It is an artificial and ecologically expensive reality that humans continually create. It is arrogance and disrespect.

The new rule is, whether technologically or economically, just because you can do it, you must do it.

It’s not mariner’s rule but he’s a grandfather now; He isn’t in the game anymore.

Ancient Mariner

Mississippi River – An Insight into Harvey and Global Warming

 

A past post spoke of the Mississippi River in natural terms. The River is a vast flood plain worthy of an unrestrained course without canyons, gorges, and other constraints. Typical of many rivers in the Midwest, it is a mud-bottom river that ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, floods and runs low. Its job is to be the drain for excess water from sixteen US States; its main tributaries are great rivers in their own right: The Wisconsin River, Minnesota River, Iowa River, Des Moines River, Illinois River, Missouri/North Platte Rivers, Arkansas River, and Ohio/Tennessee Rivers – among many other secondary tributaries that would add another dozen states to the Mississippi’s flood plain.

If one has the opportunity to visit the River, or better, live near it, one cannot escape an awareness of something that transcends humankind. It is the byproduct of a two million year ice age that ended ten thousand years ago. Even the least interested person readily sees flood plains that reach for miles on both sides. Wildlife depends on the River as much as humans and suffers – if not becomes extinct – when dams, levies, eliminated estuaries and chemicals are forced upon the River. Piling on is the massive abuse by real estate development within the River’s flood plain.

The human violation of a sacrosanct member of the biosphere has a price: the river floods every year, some years more than others. Yet humans are allowed to build homes, factories, roads and estuary-destroying flood walls at great expense to themselves while the River regularly ignores this folly and destroys most of it at great cost to industry, economics, and the private lives of thousands of families. At the delta of the River where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana fights an ongoing war with the River from massive fossil fuel plants to the fact that one cannot bury loved ones in the ground – the caskets have a way of rising to the surface in flood conditions.

– – – –

The Mississippi River is an excellent example of how nature ignores the ambitions of Homo sapiens sapiens. True, the River suffers ignoble abuse but continues with its job of draining flood waters from half of the contiguous United States. The River is an example of how nature will have its way regardless of human disrespect. Now Harvey has visited the coast of Texas. The loss of life, industry, possessions, and survival for years to come is on a scale of 10,000 times the conflict along the Mississippi River.

That hurricanes are an expected imposition on life and human ambition is not the issue; the storms are growing larger and stronger according to NOAA statistics. Several storms have set new records in the past three years. Mariner will not engage in the argument about global warming. Science has proven time and again in overwhelming ways that the Earth is warming. Of importance to humans and many other species, are two factors: the temperature of air and water on the planet is rising – the result is increased energy in weather systems – enough to permanently alter jet streams. Secondly, one of the major causes of warming is excessive carbon, which acidifies oceans and retains heat in the atmosphere. Both factors cause the melting of ice and permafrost in the Polar Regions which will raise ocean levels as much as nine feet in this century at a rate of 1-3 inches per year.

Now one can see the similarities between the Mississippi River and ocean fronts: flooding, irrecoverable cost, and humans, being as belligerent and persistent as they are, losing any battle when the biosphere decides to ignore human hubris. Living along the Mississippi, we have experience dealing with the biosphere. It foretells future life along the coasts of the world’s oceans. A future life that will submerge masses of land similar to Florida and includes the two dozen largest cities near ocean fronts, including New York City, Miami and Los Angeles. One can argue that New Orleans has been flooded for some time.

Will our governments respond properly with regulations and zoning? Will capitalism be set aside to accommodate the enormity of the situation?

Ancient Mariner

 

Populism – a Grist Mill for Change

The United States is not the only nation suffering an interruption caused by populism. Remember Brexit? And Greece, France, Italy, and just about everyone in South America? Don’t forget Ukraine, thrown into civil war by nationalist intentions.

The mariner has been looking into the phenomenon of populism, drawing from several websites on the subject, respected magazines and journals, and a book or two, particularly David Goodheart, a Brit who has received notable accolades for his book, The Road to Somewhere – the populist Revolt and the Future of politics. One may also want to read Ivan Krastev’s Democracy Disrupted: The Global Politics of Protest.

Any reader who has studied history knows that politics, economics and status quo do not want change, e.g., fossil fuel; there is comfort in a well-rooted establishment that provides a modicum of security with some guarantee of regularity. It is inevitable that folks are pushed aside to sustain the status quo. Eventually, enough citizens are dissatisfied with the growing imbalance between the benefactors of the establishment and themselves that what results is an uprising, certainly rowdy and disrespectful in nature. In fact, conflicts have often become wars and on occasion restart the entire culture, noting Denmark’s citizen rebellion that tossed out capitalism and created a socialist state.

Americans are well aware of the populist movement in the United States. Accustomed to a two party political system, a progressive, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump, an advocate of change with no political experience, became the leaders of the populist movement. In the wake of the 2016 election which Donald won, the conservative populists have settled into a conservative group generally referred to as ‘the base.’

Nevertheless, many more citizens still with rebellion in their hearts remain a grumbling presence. Signs suggest there will be another storming of the Bastille in 2018.

Populist response to inequities is more common in democratic societies than in authoritative ones although authoritarian societies have more violent rebellions. The United States, known for its ‘experiment’ of self-governance and citizen freedom, has frequent populist uprisings. The first of significant note – aside from the Revolutionary War – was the Boston Tea Party. Every thirty or forty years since, populist uprisings have been the gearbox to keep governance in line. Within the experience of citizens alive today is the suffragette movement, the labor rebellion, the Great Depression, the Viet Nam war resistance, Civil Rights, and, in real time experience, the job rebellion happening today.

Populist uprisings have a singular purpose: disrupt the establishment. There is no other purpose. The present and future be damned; they are of no consequence. Logic and reason are irrelevant; populism is a battle between emotions and authority. Within a family, populism is a teenager’s rebellion against parental authority. Despite the belligerence, the crassness, the destructiveness, populism is good. It is good because it makes the establishment listen. Petty accommodation, persuasion and doubletalk will not suffice. New definitions of the social order must emerge.

The establishment will defend itself – especially in matters of money and elitism. This may go on for years; the common classes still are rebelling against monetary policies put in place in the 1980’s. Only now have a significant number of citizens felt enough is enough. Sharing wealth, having job security, feeling opportunity, and a sense of a better life ahead are disappearing at an alarming rate – all to sustain the establishment to the exclusion of the greater citizenry. The 2016 election was one of many breaking points; there are many more to come that will, sooner or later, tackle social issues, the definition of citizen rights and a settlement of economic policy in manners of governance; for example, the cost and process of campaigns and elections, minimum wage and redefinition of the term ‘job.’

Back to the populist phenomenon, it evolves from the liberal side of voters. Over decades the working class was the heart of the Democratic Party in the United States and of the Labour Party in Great Britain. In both countries, liberal party workers slowly evolved into successful groups still loyal to the liberal side but slowly became a minority to fellow party members who stayed at lower class labor jobs. It is this lower class of liberals that abandons the ‘elitist’ membership and in the midst of foment becomes populist. An example of this abandonment clearly was present in Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President; Hillary represented the Establishment – the enemy – to the disdain of her own party. The majority, still left of center, flocked to a fellow revolutionary, Bernie Sanders, and left the Democratic Party quite diminished. In a populist mood, many voted for the Republican anti-establishment candidate rather than support their party – the beginning of ‘the base.’

The conservative government clings to the awkward election of Donald Trump. He is their windbreak from populists but his inadequacies are weakening his hold and may serve to lay exposed the wealth-centric philosophy of the Republican Party as the 2018 election approaches.

In Great Britain, populist surge led to a defeat of British participation in the European Union. This is a glaring, visible setback to the strength of Great Britain as a nation. The same disaffection occurred in the US and similarly has damaged the status and leadership of the nation. It is not as visible as the cleaving of Britain from the EU but the US has lost leverage in several international arenas of immediate importance.

This time around, however, populism has become international. Virtually every democratic country around the world is suffering from the same dilemma: struggling economic systems that facilitate the centralization of wealth in a few at the cost of supporting the common citizen.

Donald Trump recognized, in a simple way, that trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and TPP had something to do with job distribution but failed in recognizing that trade agreements are the vehicles through which populism may have a voice in international change and further, trade agreements are the conveyance that will define the global future, whatever it may be.

The future cannot change too much from what populism provokes today. The chasm between have and have not, skilled and unskilled, opportunity and oppressed, will remain and likely increase. Populism can only interfere; it cannot dictate. Especially in an international marketplace, populism will be fragmented. The best populism can do is draw our attention to the misbehavior of power. It is only the gristmill, not the wheat.

Ancient Mariner

The Times They are a-changin

The mariner’s wife was listening to an old CD today. The CD had a number of old favorites including Bob Dylan’s The Times They are a-changin’ published in 1964 in the midst of the civil rights rebellion and the era of folk music. The lyrics are eerily prophetic for our ‘times’ today:

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

For a video-recorded rendition by Bob Dylan, see:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/times-they-are-a-changing-lyrics-bob-dylan.html

Ancient Mariner

Some Thoughts

Mariner is a potential customer for switching from standard electrical hookup to solar. He believes it is one of the major constraints to the use of fossil fuels in the next decade and will be a cost saving strategy for typical home owners. Even Goldman Sachs thinks so:

Falling wind and solar costs are set to spur even greater investment in renewable technologies. Goldman Sachs Research’s Alberto Gandolfi forecasts that by 2023, renewables will be able to operate without government subsidies. From there, Gandolfi expects wind and solar deployment to accelerate, reaching $3 trillion over the next 20 years.

Picked up this apropos quote in the Atlantic Magazine:

“You are entitled to your own opinion,

but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

— Daniel Patrick Moynihan

And this one:

“We risk being the first people in history to have been

able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive,

so ‘realistic’ that they can live in them.”

— Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to

Pseudo-Events in America (1961)

And this:

The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called “The Word.” His first selection: truthiness. “Now, I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the ‘wordinistas’ over at Webster’s, are gonna say, ‘Hey, that’s not a word!’ Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart … Face it, folks, we are a divided nation … divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart … Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.”

Kurt Andersen, the author of How America Lost its Mind, says it much better than mariner could:

…And if the ’60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.

Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we can’t prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. What’s problematic is going overboard—letting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control.

From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

Back to ‘reality’, On Monday, the President took time away from the lush fairways and greens at Trump National Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey, to tweet insults at Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat who had the temerity to suggest that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, should be allowed to continue and complete his investigation. On Tuesday afternoon, Trump again interrupted his break, this time to attend a briefing in the Bedminster clubhouse about the nation’s opioid crisis. He took the opportunity to threaten a devastating nuclear strike on North Korea.

Is this our future?

Ancient Mariner