AI

Mariner doesn’t know how to say this but . . . Donald’s base is wiser than most of the US citizenry. The base understands the future and is trying its best to thwart it – in the nation’s behalf as well.

Every world citizen should view the latest FRONTLINE presentation on Artificial Intelligence (AI). It won’t be idle entertainment and it takes a couple of hours. But the reader’s existence in the future is revealed.

Click https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/in-the-age-of-ai/ . Pay attention, think, stay awake – it isn’t a sit-com.

Ancient Mariner

Of God and Country

It seems that an individual selects one’s God and one’s candidate in similar fashion. In these modern religious times, scriptures are less a source for describing god; most believers settle for a God that is very much like them but whose authority is absolute. The same is true with candidates for elected office. Study after study has shown that, in the final analysis, a voter selects the candidate with whom they are most comfortable – the candidate most like them.

A major issue is that the selection process has no absolute, agreed-to plan. One can’t plan God’s will; one can’t plan an elected official’s will. So there is no plan. There are whims and fancies, even a structured belief about what may happen but there is no agreed-to plan.

There never will be a plan. Authority is an individual vice, self-serving and even in its most gracious moments, self-directed. This is why most universal issues, e.g., the fossil fuel industry, discount what others may desire or have insight into – “it’s the money, stupid.”

Just as money yields to more money, power yields to more power. The advantage of God is that God already has all the power and in an orderly way distributes power to all existence – whether it is what voters choose or not – hence global warming. In today’s confusion corporations and technology, both unfettered by meaningful regulation or conscience, seem to have a power approximating God’s. The framework of morality, accountability, fairness and all the other words that constitute human wellbeing are not part of their plan. Like a kindergartener playing with blocks, the attitude is ‘if we can do it, do it’ without consideration to its ramifications.

Mariner, like everyone else in this new century, is caught in the maelstrom. His compass is tossed about by disruptions in his human magnetic field; his vision is blurred by the smoke of confusion and disorder; his personal hopes and dreams are stifled by interruptions and blockages of discord.

Mariner welcomes you to this century. Pick your candidate as carefully as you pick your God – there is no plan.

It is time for a haiku:

Haze rests on the grass.

Squirrels frolic in the trees.

Life starts a new day.

 

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Some Items You May Find Interesting

[Bloomberg] $70,000 per minute. That’s how much money the Walmart-owning Walton family has made in the year since Bloomberg’s previous list of the world’s richest families. The Waltons top that list this year, with wealth of $190.5 billion. The Mars, Koch, Al Saud and Wertheimer (of the Chanel fashion house) families round out a top five. The 25 richest families in the world control $1.4 trillion, a figure which is up nearly a quarter from last year.

[Endangered Species Coalition] The Trump Administration put rules in place today that will put many more species on a path to extinction.

  1. The Trump Extinction Plan removes protections for plants, fish, and wildlife designated as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
  2. The Trump Extinction Plan encourages policy makers to calculate the perceived economic costs (but not the benefits) of Endangered Species Act protections to plants, fish, and wildlife . Under the Act, economic factors were intentionally not considered in listing decisions. Listing decisions should be based on science, not on money. This rule upends that.
  3. The Trump Extinction Plan makes protecting habitat much more burdensome despite habitat loss being a leading cause of extinction.

In finalizing their changes, the Trump Administration ignored more than one million activists that submitted public comments and rejected the advice of hundreds of scientists, biologists, and wildlife experts who oppose the changes.

[CityLab] The Online Gig Economy’s ‘Race to the Bottom.’ On digital work platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, you can also buy nearly any service—often from someone halfway around the world, sometimes for just a few bucks. On Fiverr, one of the most popular of these platforms, you’ll find offers for someone who will write an e-book “on any topic”; a person who will perform “a Voiceover as Bernie Sanders”; someone who will write your Tinder profile for you, and someone who will design a logo for your real-estate company. The people selling this labor live in Nigeria, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Bangladesh, respectively. Each of them charges $5 for these tasks.

 There are members of mariner’s family who are at-home contractors (AKA gig workers). Will other nations drive down living wages for US citizens as these ‘gig’ services expand?

[Atlantic] And Then Job Said Unto the Lord: You Can’t Be Serious. God says to Satan, “You there, what have you been up to?” And Satan says, “Oh, you know, just hanging around, minding my own business.” And God says, “Well, take a look at my man Job over there. He worships me. He does exactly what I tell him. He thinks I’m the greatest.” “Job?” says Satan. “The rich, happy, healthy guy? The guy with 3,000 camels? Of course he does. You’ve given him everything. Take it all away from him, and I bet you he’ll curse you to your face.” And God says, “You’re on.”

That—give or take a couple of verses—is how it starts, the Book of Job. What a setup. The Trumplike deity; the shrewd and loitering adversary; the cruelly flippant wager; and the stooge, the cosmic straight man, Job, upon whose oblivious head the sky is about to fall.

Purchase the book – a rewrite of Job (Job: A New Translation by Edward L. Greenstein, Yale University Press) or see the article in the September Atlantic Magazine or check out:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/09/job-edward-l-greenstein/594769/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=video-series-editors-picks&utm_content=20190810&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Ancient Mariner

items

֎ ‘Our’ nation making decisions in ‘Our’ best interest

TOP SPENDING LOBBYISTS

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $12.5 million (versus $16.5 million in Q1 2019 and $15.2 million in Q2 2018)
  2. National Association of Realtors: $10.3 million (versus $11.5 million in Q1 2019 and $14.2 million in Q2 2018)
  3. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $6.2 million (versus $9.9 million in Q1 2019 and $5.5 million in Q2 2018)
  4. Open Society Policy Center: $5.9 million (versus $2.6 million in Q1 2019 and $10.4 million in Q2 2018)
  5. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $5.5 million (versus $5.6 million in Q1 2019 and $5.2 million in Q2 2018)
  6. American Hospital Association: $4.9 million (versus $5.3 million in Q1 2019 and 4.3 million in Q2 2018)
  7. American Medical Association: $4.8 million (versus $6.8 million in Q1 2019 and $4.3 million in Q2 2018)
  8. Facebook: $4.1 million (versus $3.4 million in Q1 2019 and $3.7 million in Q2 2018)
  9. Amazon: $4 million (versus $3.9 million in Q1 2019 and $3.5 million in Q2 2018)
  10. Boeing: $3.9 million (versus $3.3 million in Q1 2019 and $3.9 million in Q2 2018)
  11. NCTA — The Internet & Television Association: $3.4 million (versus $3.3 million in Q1 2019 and $3.3 million in Q2 2018)
  12. AT&T: $3.3 million (versus $2.6 million in Q1 2019 and $4.6 million in Q2 2018)
  13. Comcast: $3.2 million (versus $3.5 million in Q1 2019 and $3.5 million in Q2 2018)
  14. Lockheed Martin: $3.1 million (versus $3.8 million in Q1 2019 and $3.3 million in Q2 2018)
  15. Business Roundtable: $3.1 million (versus $3.6 million in Q1 2019 and $5.8 million in Q2 2018)
  16. Biotechnology Innovation Organization: $3 million (versus $3 million in Q1 2019 and $2.5 million in Q2 2018)
  17. National Association of Broadcasters: $3 million (versus $3.9 million in Q1 2019 and $3.6 million in Q2 2018)
  18. Google: $2.9 million (versus $3.4 million in Q1 2019 and $5.8 million in Q2 2018)
  19. Pfizer: $2.9 million (versus $4.2 million in Q1 2019 and $2 million in Q2 2018)
  20. American Bankers Association: $2.8 million (versus $2.2 million in Q1 2019 and $2.5 million in Q2 2018)

– – – –

Top 20 PAC CONTRIBUTORS TO CANDIDATES

PAC Name, Total Amount, Dem Pct, Repub Pct

American Assn for Justice $2,402,000 94% 5%

American Bankers Assn $2,786,080 23% 77%

American Crystal Sugar $2,470,000 54% 46%

AT&T Inc $3,116,700 40% 60%

Blue Cross/Blue Shield $2,394,300 41% 59%

Boeing Co $2,391,499 43% 57%

Credit Union National Assn $2,619,000 48% 52%

Deloitte LLP $2,380,000 44% 56%

Honeywell International $2,639,310 49% 50%

House Freedom Fund $2,733,340 0% 100%

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $2,595,524 96% 4%

Lockheed Martin $2,504,500 40% 60%

National Air Traffic Controllers Assn $2,813,250 56% 44%

National Assn of Realtors $3,444,276 51% 48%

National Auto Dealers Assn $2,666,400 24% 76%

National Beer Wholesalers Assn $3,433,500 48% 52%

Northrop Grumman $2,849,740 43% 57%

Operating Engineers Union $2,726,909 80% 19%

Sheet Metal, Air, Rail & Transportation Union $2,797,450 88% 12%

United Parcel Service $2,441,597 33% 66%

 Does it occur to readers that the 1778 United States Constitutional Democracy doesn’t exist today? Citizens live in an uncontrolled, highly capitalistic plutocracy on the verge of collapse because 1% of the population holds as much wealth as the bottom 90%.

Donald is just a drill to prepare the nation for serious reform. It will take at least a generation to repair all the issues at hand today, let alone the new issues arriving shortly.

Sleep well, e pluribus Unum.

Ancient Mariner

Can one Belong without Faith?

Mariner suspects the Atlantic Magazine reads his posts. More than once, mariner has presented a subject that Atlantic reports on in its next issue. Mariner’s post, “It’s Time for Religion” published on July 17, addressed the absence of religion in today’s milieu of confusion and lack of focus. Today, The Atlantic publishes a fine article on the relationship between organized religion and loss of community.

[The Atlantic] Secular organizers started their own congregations. But to succeed, they need to do a better job of imitating religion. Jul 21, 2019.

By Faith Hill, Assistant editor at The Atlantic.

When Justina Walford moved to New York City nine years ago, she’d never felt more alone. She’d left behind her Church, her God, and her old city, Los Angeles. . . By the time she turned up in New York, her faith had long since unraveled, a casualty of overseas travel that made her question how any one religious community could have a monopoly on truth. But still she grieved the loss of God.

When Walford shed her faith, she joined a large and fast-growing group—the “nones,” or the religiously unaffiliated. According to data from the latest version of the Public Religion Research Institute’s annual “American Values Atlas,” 25 percent of Americans today are religiously unaffiliated, up from single digits in the 1990s. . . If the sudden emergence of secular communities speaks to a desire for human connection and a deeper sense of meaning, their subsequent decline shows the difficulty of making people feel part of something bigger than themselves. One thing has become clear: The yearning for belonging is not enough, in itself, to create a sense of home.[1]

Belonging is a will o’ the wisp experience. It can’t be manufactured, bought, manipulated or imposed. Like will o’ the wisp, it can’t be held in the hand or stored in a closet; it can’t be negotiated. Belonging is a sensation that comes to someone unexpectedly after a period of time that involves shared responsibility, dependable trust and confidence. It isn’t like membership in a club or even a sport team; belonging consists of tenure, sharing and grace – religiously speaking, Divine Grace.

Being in a state of grace makes one aware of the subtleties of eternity, of surreal satisfaction and of unshakable confidence. As Faith Hill said in her article, it is easier if there is God.

Mariner quoted in his post Reza Aslan who said, “Humans want a god like themselves.” This is not flippant; it means humans need an understandable link to Divine and irrevocable authority beyond the human experience – but about the human experience. Without a godhead, atheists and non-theological ritual cannot easily invoke a divine force that relates to a human world.

Today, it’s time for religion.

Ancient Mariner

[1] For complete article, see: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/secular-churches-rethink-their-sales-pitch/594109/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=politics-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190722&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

It’s Time for Religion

There are times when we must return to religion. This is difficult in today’s helter-skelter value systems and rapidly shifting beliefs in the world in which we live. To the extent that religion itself is caught up in the raging politics of wealth, depravation and transition, finding a value to which to return is difficult and precarious. As religious believers, we are lost in a morass of myth change, unstable human value and empirical disruption.

Sometimes, it is helpful to discard that which is confusion. What is it that has proven to be survivable, worldly, simpatico and stable beneath the fray of economics, politics, common prejudices and conflict? There is comradeship in basic human existence. There is comradeship in nature’s rule of life. There is partnership in the pursuit of survivability.

But who will lead the path to religious morality? Who will reset the world to the powers of creation and sanctity? Who will link the power of ethos and universal value to a day in the life of humanity?

You.

Elected officials and government cannot do this. Militarism cannot do this. Great leaders cannot do this. Elitism cannot do this. You can do this. Live your life according to your beliefs in Divine Providence. Do not allow your sense of right to be distracted by the confusion and misdirection of life. You know what is sacred. Believe your faith in the holiness of reality; believe in the virtue of equality among humans and humanness. If God is your leader, obey God’s rules.

Politics will not save us. Wealth will not save us. Battles against oneness will not save us. Love will save us.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

This is a strange, scary World

The Atlantic Magazine has an article about the love relationship between Evangelical Christians and Donald. Mariner suggests only the strongest in faith and self-confidence read that article.

Reason, a so-named ‘skill’ of Homo sapiens, is not to be trusted. Reason is free to imagine anything, whether reasonable or not. Further, the human success derived from inventions and discovery, while entertaining and imaginative, has not changed the human brain one iota in its 100,000 years of immediate evolution.
Humans first respond to the five senses as all creatures do (one will never put one’s finger in the fire twice); humans then respond to sustained survival (me, my offspring and my belongings come first); finally, humans make the mistake that they can create a reality that fits one’s unique perspective, bending or dismissing empirical reality, existential experience and the core virtues of sympathetic awareness – the last of which is present in all mammals.

Relating to theology and doctrine first, humans toyed with how the universe came to be. In the western world, the earliest documentation of a theology emerged around 7500 BC with the creation of Cybele, the female creator of nature who always had two fierce lions beside her.[1] Cybele may have been the first super hero because of her ability to procreate an entire biosphere. In the rest of the world ancient Egyptians and others applied anthropomorphic values: rocks were gods, trees were gods, the Sun, the Moon, etc. Later, theology allowed males to be gods and also to have more than one god at the same time. The panoply of Greek and Roman gods reads like Downton Abbey.

About 2,000 years ago, a religion emerged that was based on love as its core value. The power of God was love. God created Jesus so people will understand who god is and how they should live accordingly. While proselytizing in Turkey, disciple Paul learned that the local name for this new religion was ‘Christian’. The name stuck.

Until this day there has been confusion about how god relates to individuals or perhaps how individuals relate to god. There is a huge library on this issue, especially on whether god is a personal god (Old Testament) that interjects himself into the daily life of individuals or is a force to which all believers respond (New Testament).

Perhaps the sagest observation was made by theologian Reza Aslan who said, “Humans want a god like themselves.”

A good segue to the second subject, politics. Many Evangelical Christians (ECs) have adopted Donald as a current day savior (for the sake of sanity please don’t correlate Donald to Jesus). Forgetting every verse of faith and decorum in the New Testament, ECs believe Donald will preserve the culture and doctrine that ECs believe. The enemy is the rest of the population who generally are more liberal and Donald’s non-Christian behavior, indeed criminal behavior, is exempted just so he can fight the liberals in the nastiest way possible.

This political circumstance was true for Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and all of history’s despots. ECs believe all virtues are dispensable to sustain the EC world. Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.

But mariner knows this will begin the decline of the Evangelical Christian. Dare he say God works in mysterious ways?

Ancient Mariner.

[1] See mariner’s post, Cybele, posted April 7 2016

Postmodernism

Mariner was drifting through the endless world of the Internet last evening when he came across the author Frederic Jameson, a prolific writer in the 1980s and 1990s who contributed ideas about postmodernism. Mariner hasn’t thought about postmodernism since the 1990s. It is refreshing to revisit the perceptions of Jameson and others about the philosophical interpretations that underlie the way people perceive the world today.

Most readers are aware of ‘the age of enlightenment’, a movement that occurred in the 18thcentury. It evolved because of new scientific understanding at the time and the beginning of industrialization – both of which changed how people lived and identified with society (Luddite rebellion in 1811).

Then, from about 1900 to 1965, came modernism. To keep the post short, mariner cites Wikipedia:

[Modernism, in general, includes the activities and creations of those who felt the traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, philosophy, social organization, activities of daily life, and sciences, were becoming ill-fitted to their tasks and outdated in the new economic, social, and political environment of an emerging fully industrialized world.]

It is intriguing to note that the end of modernism was imprinted in American history by three significant assassinations: John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. As an example of the breadth of philosophic change at the time, one of mariner’s favorite authors, Paul Tillich, wrote “Christianity and the Encounter of the World Religions” in 1963 and “Situation Ethics: The New Morality” by Joseph F. Fletcher was written in 1966. Since then the role of Christian doctrine in American culture has been changing dramatically.

Postmodernism is the next interpretation of society, religion, art, economics, etc. It defines how everyone today experiences society and daily ethics. In the turbulence of the sixties, from Viet Nam to Woodstock, a conservative resurgence occurred to quell general disruption and was empowered by the election of Ronald Reagan. During this conservative period especially during the 1990s, philosophers like Jameson began to realize a new world was emerging that would be culturally segmented and institutions of every kind would not be sacrosanct.

Just like the earlier periods of enlightenment, change has been brought about by scientific advancement, an emerging new kind of economy, and a separation of human values from religious and ethical traditions. Today, the polarized conflict between conservatives and liberals in all walks of life represents the same conflict experienced at the end of earlier periods of philosophical change. It is interesting that shifts in global philosophy occur more rapidly each time.

Ancient Mariner

 

In the News

֎ [Newsy] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that would eliminate religious exemptions for children’s vaccinations amid an ongoing measles outbreak. Under the new law, children who attend school or daycare can only be exempted from vaccine requirements if they have a medical reason. In a statement, Cuomo said: “The science is crystal clear: Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to keep our children safe. This administration has taken aggressive action to contain the measles outbreak, but given its scale, additional steps are needed to end this public health crisis.” Opponents of the bill say it violates religious freedoms and that they’ll continue to fight for their rights. The U.S. is currently facing one of the worst measles outbreaks in decades. In Rockland County, New York, there have been more than 260 confirmed cases since June 12.

Vaccination is a classic example of confrontation between freedom of religion and freedom of state. The largest religions address the common good in their doctrine but there are uncountable variations and assumptions in religious practice. The same is true of most governments; they are founded on principles of common good but the interpretation of common good runs to irrational extremes.

Common good must prevail else humanity may not survive. At its simplest, humans are a tribal species. Sans an available vaccine, the black plague wiped out sixty percent of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century. Regarding the issue of vaccination, whose freedoms take priority? Solutions require some doctrinal or legislative adjustment; whose common good is more important? Can one imagine a Venn diagram solution? Mariner leaves this issue with the reader to reconcile.

Ancient Mariner

The Meaning of Pride

Mariner and an old friend visited yesterday. The conversation rambled across many experiences, opinions and bad jokes. Part of the discussion centered on the failure of expectations in family life and on the motivations that promote goodness or destructiveness. At one point in the conversation, the role of pride was the focus. It reminded mariner of an old sermon he preached a time or two about pride.

The word ‘pride’ occurs in many different circumstances and under an assortment of conditions. Why is a family of lions called a pride? Is there a nuanced meaning? A frequently used aphorism is ‘Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:18). Change the noun pride into the adjective proud and a specific definition is difficult to abide by; a common skeptical retort is “Well aren’t we proud?” Wikipedia settled on the following description for pride:

“Pride is an inwardly directed emotional term that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. In Judaism, pride is called the root of all evil. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”

With such polarized meaning, there must be another dimension to pride that makes it as important as it seems to be. That dimension also is an inwardly directed emotional term: Love. On the one hand, pride, or hubris, is a defense mechanism to compensate for perceived incompetence or inadequate self-esteem, often caused by unsuccessful relationships with family or significant others. Angst and insecurity are common sensations.

At the other end, one may feel arrival, achievement, creativity and silent reward. Real pride grows the spirit not only of the individual but of those who receive benefit from the individual’s efforts.

To connect this human phenomenon to religion (quite briefly), major religions believe the power of creation and salvation is love. Love creates salvation whether now or in the afterlife. When an individual improves the state of human affairs without personal reward, one has created with love.

If one wants to grow inside and feel good about it, try love. One can be proud.

Ancient Mariner