Quick Look Ats

֎According to a Bloomberg report last week, China used tiny microchips, placed on server motherboards, to infiltrate nearly 30 American companies including Amazon and Apple. But Amazon and Apple challenged the report and the Department of Homeland Security said it “had no reason to doubt” the companies’ statements. Bloomberg, whose article is based on 17 anonymous sources, is standing by the story. [Reuters]

**** This may or not have happened but it occurs to mariner that wars among the fifty largest nations may not use gunpowder or TNT in this century. Should the United States, which spends three times as much on military as any other nation, consider a serious revamp of the military to face an age of cyber warfare? More ominous, could there be war between the military and large international data corporations? Perhaps we should abandon social media to avoid being in that crossfire.

֎Burning down the house: Jeff Bezos is donating money to fund schools and homelessness initiatives. Mark Zuckerberg is giving 99 percent of his Facebook shares to charity. The wealthy get high praise for donating money to social causes, but how much can we expect these efforts to change systemic societal issues, especially when some of those very same business interests are taking steps that negate this philanthropy through lobbying and their own workplace policies?

In a new book, Winners Take All, Anand Giridharadas argues that this system of philanthropy reinforces the inequities that put billionaires on top. [Citylab]

**** This is an old complaint about philanthropists who are so wealthy that no matter how large a donation to good causes, it doesn’t affect the oligarchic life style to which they are accustomed. Meanwhile, any pressure on their business model is addressed instantly and is concerned only with the bottom line. The real bottom line, life and happiness for all, goes unaddressed. Such is the conflict between capitalism and socialism. Can the two be homogenized?

֎McKINSEY HIRES BRACEWELL ON BANKRUPTCY ISSUES: McKinsey & Company has hired Bracewell in response to a lobbying effort from Jay Alix, a businessman and founder of Alix Partners. Earlier this year, Alix hired Cornerstone Government Affairs, Cogent Strategies and Lakeview Capital Holdings to lobby on “protecting the integrity of the bankruptcy system.” It’s not clear what exactly Alix is doing, but McKinsey is fighting back. In July, Alix filed a motion to reopen a bankruptcy case involving Alpha Natural Resources, which McKinsey advised during its bankruptcy proceedings. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that McKinsey is fighting that request, “denying allegations that conflicts of interest and an undisclosed investment broke the law and tainted the outcome of the multibillion-dollar chapter 11 case.”

**** Mariner inserted this story to show the depth of lobbying and backdoor shenanigans that goes on behind the headlines. Thanks to Donald, we know bankruptcy proceedings can be a tool not only for salvaging something from a failed venture, but a way to hide super large profits and bank manipulations. Apparently Alix wants to strengthen the bankruptcy laws to eliminate abusive, big dollar gamesmanship. It reminds mariner of Donald’s experience with casinos: he pulled all the profits from the casinos not even leaving enough to pay bills. Then he filed bankruptcy obviously to dissuade regulators that there was any profit at all. He played this game three times: the Taj Mahal, Trump Castle Associates, and Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Mariner has the entertaining thought that global warming, which Donald denies, will soon put Mar a Lago under water. Oh well, he’ll game the situation somehow.

Speaking of Global warming, Tangier Island, a small, isolated island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay is going under. Forty percent of the island already has disappeared. This is no small event in DelMarVa. Tangier Island is 12 miles from the nearest shores of the Bay. Consequently, this culturally pure location has retained much of the dialect of its original founders from England in the eighteenth century; it has retained the strict Victorian Christian beliefs from that era as well. Every family on the island is a fishing family by trade: rockfish, crabs, oysters, clams – all from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

More important to the Mid-Atlantic States is its place in the history of the Bay. It is a well-known location and is an endearment to the citizens of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. To watch the video shown by PBS Newshour, see:


Ancient Mariner


Do you know your epitaph?

True, tombstones are not so much the fashion today but one should not ignore one’s epitaph whether on a tombstone or not. In just a few words, certainly less than a dozen, a person’s life is encapsulated for all time. Who are you? What is it about you that contributed to reality?

Addressing the enormity of the epitaph with humor, mariner’s family and friends are well aware mariner considers the verb ‘get’ to be an evil destroyer of vocabulary. American usage, especially the simple past and past participle (got), displaces at least 17 additional words every day. What happened to “I received mail?” or “I understand it?” and a myriad more forgotten words that actually have a specific meaning. Even word partner ‘have’ is left out: “I gotta go.”

Mariner’s wife was quick to offer her choice for mariner’s epitaph: “Here lies mariner. He got dead.” Her own characteristics of never being able to leave the house just once without forgetting something and coming back – two or three times – provided her epitaph: “Here lies mariner’s wife. She’ll be back.” Identifying one another’s epitaphs should be entertainment for the family or even at a party.

Humor aside, although it is the fun part, identifying the most important influence one has had on reality is a personal value that carries serious import. The ego, too, is close to the surface. The caveat is that the opinion of others may not be as rosy or complimentary as one’s own opinion. In short, epitaph may become epithet. For example, “Here lies Sam. He never met a prejudice he didn’t like.” Perhaps, “Here lies Darlene. She made the most of eleven marriages.

The subjects of these two examples likely had more grandiose images of themselves, perhaps invoking thoughts of sacrifice to others in spite of the world the subjects lived in. Many are aware that they have committed their life to a cause. A very common example is caring for the quality of life in a spouse; another common raison d’être is raising one’s children.

It is true that epitaphs based on behavioral characteristics tend to be humorous but there is merit to identifying within one’s self what one did to improve the world in some way. One doesn’t need to discover this at a party. In fact, each of us needs to give time every once in a while to what value our life has been to reality.

Ancient Mariner


Joseph Campbell was Right

It was 2:30AM. Mariner sat down in the living room with his hydrating nightcap of 12 ounces of fake sugar lemonade. He decided to see what crumbs were available at the end of a long TV day. He caught the last half of an old comedy series from long ago when comedies seemed more fresh and creative than they do today. Mariner knew, though, that ‘Your Show of Shows’, the ‘Nelsons’ and ‘Roy Rogers’ wouldn’t make it today – just like properly enunciated lyrics have gone by the wayside in modern music.

After an endless assault by commercials, a movie started. It was a generic Jesus movie – the kind where Jesus clearly is a white Caucasian with coifed hair such that the Breck women would be jealous; his eyes had that odd color of blue that seems translucent. Jesus looked about six foot three. Jesus was no Jew. Mariner watched the movie for about five or six minutes and had to turn off the TV. He sat thinking “Joseph Campbell was right:” Religions, and for that matter all other assumptions about reality, are based on myths.

A myth is something that makes sense and further, it implies a truth that is unaffected by the vagaries of daily life. Each of us at one time or another depends on our belief in a profound principle. The belief can range from the ridiculous to the sublime but the purpose is to carry us through a moment when reality seems arbitrary.

In one of his famous interviews with Bill Moyers, Campbell said the Christian faith struggles with a myth that no longer applies to today’s reality. Without the myth, Campbell says the core truths are still viable but have no common reference to daily life. One can imagine that a scruffy Jewish guy associating with the unemployed who campaigns against the law of the land doesn’t fit the role an Evangelical Christian expects today; history, like the Nelsons, is no longer meaningful. Hence a well-kept, blue-eyed, law abiding Gentile.

But what about those core truths Campbell mentioned? Do we still need them or are they part and parcel of the myth – another time in history, another economy, another place?

Just to establish a generic definition of core truths, generally they are a value system that promotes the merit of being human and requires behavioral allegiance to the value system. Let’s apply this generic definition to something besides religious doctrine:

Among the labor class and well into the middle class the entity ‘job’ is the source of salvation. ‘Job’ is the source of holistic transformation. If an individual has a job, they are righteous; if that same individual does not have a job, they are sinners – the scum of the Earth. This reads more like a prejudice but ‘job’ is sanctification in and of itself.

Further into the middle class, financial equity takes the place of job. Whether one has a job or not is less important but one’s accoutrement speaks to the truth of financial value and a comfortable bank balance is virtuous. Beyond middle class into the very wealthy, wealth is a given; it is continuous success and reputation that become the key truth in the myth.

Mariner reminds the reader that these descriptions of myth are quite general. There is a myriad subset of beliefs that are tied to the larger myths. For example, racism, nationalism, neighborhood, profession, even to the detail of how one manages their children or how well their lawn is kept. Joseph Campbell considered myths as tools for establishing the core truth of a given culture. Mariner notices, with respect to Campbell, that myths also breed prejudice. Core truths, it turns out, are easily compromised.

Ancient Mariner



A legitimate question was raised as to why mariner did not include personality variables in the last post. There are tons of personality tests about intelligence (Stanford-Binet), skill assessment (SAT, GRE), decision variables (Myers-Briggs), and many general tests (MMPI). There are so many that mariner refers the reader to Wikipedia at:


Every personality/capability/decision test adds understanding about personalities, aptitudes and function preferences – even attitudes. Mariner is not writing a book; he suspects his readers do not want to read a book. His intent always is to inject an interesting perspective into one’s daily schedule. Consequently when the subject is human behavior, he depends on truisms, popular psychology tools, general behavior and a sailor’s intuition.

When mariner was an independent consultant, he had contracts to teach leadership skills, organization methods and computerization of business models. All these subjects rest on human behavior. Mariner often used Myers-Briggs to sensitize how one participates in a group. He borrowed instructional tools from W. Edwards Deming, Peter Drucker and others. One of mariner’s favorites is Deming’s playing card games which demonstrated that employees will do anything, even cheat, to be successful. (One thinks of Sarah Huckabee Sanders)

A personal favorite mariner devised was on the second day of training, when the students were out to lunch, he and his team would move everyone’s materials to a different seat. This caused immense discomfort in many of the students but it demonstrated one’s conservatism in sustaining the status quo – a behavior that inhibits making good decisions.

Mariner responded to a reader’s reply about not including Myers-Briggs. The response suggests that when presented in a group that was predefined (employee groups), 99% used the four letter scores negatively for purposes of self-promotion and elitism. While Myers-Briggs is technically sound, it carries overhead in a behavioral training session.

So, as it states in the blog page about the mariner, tall tales will be told – with some wisdom, mariner hopes.

Ancient Mariner




When mariner was in his thirties, he took courses in sociology and psychology. He became interested in how an individual chooses lifestyle, career and hobbies. Certainly fate itself dictates a great number of choices, often choices that may not fit one’s emotion, talent or physical profile. Still, one becomes aware that certain ways of learning, certain mental and physical skills perform more easily when compared to other people’s profiles.

To demonstrate clearly how an individual is different from another in how they learn and what comes more easily to them, mariner cites three extreme examples of individual skills that demonstrate the differences each of us may have from others.

Alonzo Clemens was a perfectly normal human. Unfortunately, he had a severe accident which damaged his brain. He is no longer a normal individual; he is a savant. Hand him a lump of clay and in minutes he will miraculously produce a perfect replica of any creature, his favorite being horses. Alonzo’s brain easily speaks through his hands.

Alma Deutscher, is a normal British eleven year old musical prodigy. She played the piano and violin at 3; Alma wrote an opera for a full symphony orchestra at age 11 – including the music for each instrument in the orchestra. It was performed to raves. One could say that Alma’s brain is wired to understand and produce music – not a small skill and one where hearing is critical.

Marilu Henner is a well-known actress. She also is one of thirteen known people worldwide with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, or H-SAM. Marilu has full retention of her entire life complete with dates, what she did on a given day, and everyone she spoke to on that day. Marilu’s brain is wired like a database; parsing information is her special ability. This phenomenon does not interfere with other emotional or physical experiences. Mariner selected Marilu as an example from AARP magazine. You can read this article at:


We plain folk aren’t mental superstars but it is important to realize that each of us has a discerning skill and aptitude that makes each of us special. It makes for an easier life if we are conscious of our specialties; this makes it easier to select our job, hobby, and leverage the special way that each of us learns.

There are a number of characteristics that can help us identify our abilities. For example, each of us tends to learn more easily with one sense over the others. Some find it easier to learn by touching or doing; some find it easier to learn by hearing; some find it easier to learn by watching; some by reading, etc. In the AARP article, Marilu suggests to review the day’s experiences by replaying them mentally, using our brain’s image of what we did that day, will noticeably improve our memory. Mariner, for example, learns best using sight; at the end of the day he should run a set of images through his brain that will serve as memory anchors.

Another aspect of learning is how our brains solve problems. Some will be better at solving procedural problems; others will be better at comparative solutions and others may understand solutions better if they have a broad perspective of the issue.

An old pop-psych description mariner has referenced before is the what-how-why description of arriving at solutions. Which is the most informative question you ask yourself when confronted with a situation that needs a solution?

What do I do?   How do I do this?     Why do I do this?

Combining the favored sense for learning with the manner by which we solve problems is a simple description of our individual aptitude. Those who learn best by touch or hands-on engagement coupled with ‘what do I do’ have an aptitude that excels at sequential activities, i.e, bookkeeping, woodworking, and construction among many examples. If we pair hearing and ‘how do I do this’ we likely will be better than average managers where talking and comparative reasoning are important. If we pair sight and ‘why do I do this’ it may be easier to ponder less defined solutions associated with science or cause and effect speculations.

Mariner has a life experience he tells about the time when he was a supervisor of programmers. In large computer systems, there are millions of lines of code so the code is divided into appropriate functions and each is overseen by a supervisor and a team of programmers. A situation arose where mariner was to receive an additional function from another supervisor. He visited the other supervisor to learn what the new function was about; this involved understanding the logic of the code – a very procedural style of logic. The supervisor sat down at the computer and described in rapid succession sixteen steps required to manage the function. Mariner, not being so glib as an intensely ‘what’ person at procedure, learned absolutely nothing about the meaning of the sixteen steps. The supervisor went through the steps again and a third time. Mariner was as ignorant as he was before the supervisor started. The supervisor asked mariner how he ever got a job as a supervisor and said as much to our manager. Fortunately, our manager was wise to our different aptitudes and dismissed the situation. Mariner later sat down with the code manual, read through the code a few times and understood what the function was about.

The important lesson in this life experience is to not judge people as inferior because they don’t have the same aptitude and skill experience as you.

We are amazed when people with very special aptitudes perform. A common example is the person who can do instant math. They stand at the front of an audience and outperform calculators. They seem not to do mental calculation; in fact they don’t. The brain intuitively knows the answer. A similar example is the memory experts who in real time can learn and recite massive amounts of detail like the first names of everyone in an auditorium. True, these specialists have honed techniques that help. However, we with all the techniques in the world could not compete with them.

A way to tell if you are in line with your aptitude is when you know solutions without calculating; another way to say that is you know intuitively: It seems so easy; why does everyone have trouble with this? I could do this job in my sleep; I feel good about myself when I exercise my aptitude. Athletes talk about being in the zone. The brain takes over and controls muscle and skeleton without conscious effort and performs better than if the athlete were thinking about his actions. Michael Jordon recounted his basketball shot at the last second in a close game: “I wasn’t worried about making the basket; I knew I would make it.” Each of us has a zone of some kind.

Enjoy learning who you are. You are unique.

Ancient Mariner


Unplugged as Metaphor

There was discussion about mariner’s self-imposed ‘isolation.’ It was perceived that mariner had separated himself from society by blocking channels of communication and information. It was suggested that, while there may be abuse by communication corporations, the tradeoff is having access to more information and a better sense of what’s going on – a quid pro quo so to speak.

Mariner suggests the issue is not one of information but one of control. The insight he has while in communication isolation is a feeling that he is not dancing to an imposed melody. Mariner knows he is beating a tired horse in his posts but the issue of not having control of one’s life or personal values, and not being in a position to do a lot about it – and not being aware this is the situation – is no different than citizens in the book 1984 and in the movie Matrix (one was put into a coffin at birth and fed an artificial reality directly to the brain).

Recently mariner posted a short post saying privacy and choice were two sides of the same coin; can’t have one without the other. That relationship cannot be denied. Homo sapien history is full of continuous rebellion against someone else dictating one’s choices. Most often it has been countered by war. It can be countered by collective bargaining whether that means unions, voting, cultural separation, or individual isolation. Success in changing things, however, can’t be done in isolation; it takes a large representation of the affected society.

Mariner is concerned that populations around the world are not prepared for the control that can be had by governments and especially by corporations with the use of powerful computers and privacy-draining data collection. Somewhere along the way, society must develop a rule that says humans will approve modification to culture, law, economy, and quality of life. Otherwise, human life may not be worth more than an imaginary life in a coffin.

– – – –

On a distantly related note, the new European restrictions on international telecommunications has severed mariner from 40% of his readership.

Ancient Mariner



Mariner continues his elimination of television viewing. Except for tennis tournaments and a few PBS shows, the television sits dark. This attitude spreads to other means of communication. Noting that Verizon’s fine service in his town requires him to use the cell phone outside because there is no signal inside, the phone lies unused as well; mariner makes a point of carrying it only when he and his wife are apart.

There are no newspapers; this, too, is not hard to establish because mariner lives in a small prairie town in Iowa. Newspapers are small at best and lack the editorial clout and information of big city newspapers. Mariner still receives three or four good magazines; his wife, an insatiable reader, enjoys reading them. Further, the magazines are donated to the local library.

Typically, mariner finds plenty to fill the day with gardening, woodworking, property maintenance and travel to nearby small cities for shopping; the closest ‘city’ with commercial and entertainment services is 15 miles away. However, the summer heat is unbearable with humidity high enough to use as paint. Of late, mariner is kept inside by the Sun. This leads to moments of boredom – a sensation that is amazingly powerful. One must be creative to avoid boredom; mariner fills these gaps with online research about numerous interests and pursues better woodworking skills. He even writes a blog.

This experiment in isolation has several psychological reactions. Foremost, peace is at hand because whatsisname rarely is mentioned. A shift in the sense of self occurs which makes one more self-sufficient; one no longer needs to be fulfilled by communication technology. Another feeling is restlessness; mariner is out of the mainstream, workday world and, like the old draft horse in the barn, misses the morning harness.

Finally, there is a subtle feeling of independence; one need not spend the day dancing to the tune of overwhelming information and the feeling of helplessness brought about by a troubled world just the other side of the TV power switch; there is no need to thumb-punch the day away on a smartphone. Mariner is in charge of his day.

Nevertheless, peace being at hand, one still has civic responsibilities and must remain informed; mariner has sources – just not on television. Very little meaningful news is reported by whatsisname.

Ancient Mariner



Share First, Bicker Later

Will Rogers is mentioned from time to time in past posts. He is a member of mariner’s “Heroes of Human Life Hall of Fame.” In today’s post, mariner draws from Will’s life an example of genuine compassion and true insight into the rules of survival for the human race. Will was a world famous humorist with a sharp, deeply exposing wit. If one reads any of his material or his biography, one is taken with the realism, clarity and depth that lay behind his humor. His primary target always was the abuse of power to the disadvantage of the average person. Needless to say, government was a favorite target. A few joke lines will bear this out:

֎Every time Congress makes a joke it’s law, and every time they make a law it’s a joke.

֎Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.

֎I can remember way back when a liberal was one who was generous with his own money.

֎Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do.

֎If we ever pass out as a great nation we ought to put on our tombstone, ‘America died from a delusion that she has moral leadership.’

֎Liberty don’t work as good in practice as it does in speeches.

Born November 4, 1879 in Oologah, Indian Territory, USA [now Oklahoma]

Died August 15, 1935 near Point Barrow, Territory of Alaska, USA (plane crash)

Will was born on a Cherokee Indian reservation. He carried the social philosophy of the American Indian with him his entire life and lived by it. Simply, the American Indian did not have a profit-based culture. If a hunting party returned with three elk or gatherers returned with vegetables and fruit, it was shared equally among the tribe members – without challenge or prejudice. Native Americans may have bargained for improved benefits but not for the sake of profit. Will was the breadwinner for his family and farm workers; he shared his income across the board. It was sharing that drove his and the Native American’s economy – not profit. The hunter, gatherer, breadwinner, entrepreneur, whatever it is called, seeks value-added resources that are shared – not hoarded. One’s individual value as a human is not based on who is richest. Will would not say, “I’m more worthy because I drive a new Lincoln and you don’t.” Will would not say, “I will not share with you because you did not hunt today.” This last comment is a reflection on mariner’s favorite, all time most frequently heard comment: “They ought to get off their butt and get a job!” Is that sharing or what?

– – – –

What is obvious at this point is our heritage, our most common assumptions about what is right or true, and our automatic reflexes in political situations – they carry our past as though our history was tagged to our genes. The white man’s western culture echoes the Greek and Roman dynasties and the rights and privileges of power; the western religion echoes the stringent and highly organizational Holy Roman Church; the Dark Age morality and the evolution of business into massive profit centers evoke modern capitalism.

Conversely, the Native American had no experience with Greece or Rome or capitalism. Their world began and ended with Mother Earth, the source of life and the end in death. In 1604, Native Americans still lived in the Stone Age – unmarked by the genes of history engrained in the white man. Native Americans, by some miracle, had a balanced faith, stable social culture and a neutral relationship with the environment.

No, they are ignorant savages said the white man. Where is Rome? Where is power? Where is class stratification? Where is wealth? The overwhelming presence of European ethics and morality, along with the tools of power and its abuses, led a genocide comparable to Myanmar today.

Will Rogers had a foot in both worlds. He struggled through most of his life trying to find a role for himself in a society that did not recognize idiosyncrasy or unsophisticated behavior as a value. Not until Will was discovered in classic Hollywood or YouTube tradition was he able to walk the white man’s world at the same time preaching through humor his ethical roots carried from his Cherokee background.

We cannot step away from 2,000 years of accumulated western influence. We are of the west. But like a ship in heavy seas, we can work the rudder to find a safer and more productive way to survive. We can reason with ourselves: why take from ourselves? Why abuse nature instead of building it so we and nature can survive together. This is more important today because the grandchildren of today’s millennials will live in a world we cannot imagine. Western culture will transition to a new ethical standard; what’s true or right or justifiable will not follow the rules of European history. If our society does not trim its sails and man the rudder, our fragmentation will not survive with any discernable ethical base. In other words, the future will not be a nice place; there will be little intellectual difference between a human being and a robot.

The keyword given to us by Will is ‘share.’ Do not judge first – share first. Do not measure wealth or class, measure sharing. There will always be political and ethical issues among us. Deal with them after all of us have shared our circumstances. Sharing is participating in the two great commandments. After all, sharing came before Greece and Rome invented hoarding.

Ancient Mariner

On Being a Shut-in – 2


Mariner thanks readers who responded with replies and emails. All were supportive. One reader suggested ‘shut-out’ would be a better term because the fact is there is no room for mariner in the state of the world. That term certainly has merit. There are many readers, also who are shut out; they know it and strive anyway at moving the world along by continuing their obligations as a member of a democratic nation.

Shut-in and shut-out both work. It may be the perspective of each individual that determines which term is appropriate. Mariner has focused on the shut-in experience. How does a shut-in adapt to a constrained reality? Each of us experiences an individualized slice of reality. If one had a job, family, and recreational activities, still that would be a narrow slice of reality at large. Could one ask, “Is Donald’s faithful base experiencing the life of a shut-in – constrained within a walled reality where changing economy, population and culture raise fears about the outside world? Is the life of a person of color a constrained reality that is just a shut-in version of greater reality? Could each of us, however liberated we may feel, be limited to a shut-in version of general reality?

Enough. Mariner ponders too much. Mariner is curious about how a shut-in adapts to the reality that is available. His personal experience suggests that all of us, shut-in, shut-out or otherwise, make adjustments to sustain an even, acceptable keel in our daily life however constrained. Not being God, the ultimate reality, all of us must find a balance that, if nothing else, allows us to wake up the next day and carry on.

It is difficult for physically and emotionally limited individuals. How does one find self-worth when one cannot participate in normal society? How does one pass a long, uneventful day? Mariner, having a very small and not discomforting challenge, found that filling the day requires deep emotional and intellectual thought. Depression is a constant threat; boredom is a sledgehammer disrupting problem-solving thought; time moves in slow motion making the day longer. Mariner quickly learned that, if each of us were to make a better world, it would be making a true, physically constrained shut-in have a better day.

Most of us, of course, are not physically or emotionally constrained. Still, we are shut-in, not allowing us to experience the full rainbow of life and, existentially, true reality. For the moment, mariner feels that constraint forces each of us to invent meaningful reality – a reality that provides personal worth and accomplishment as a human being. This can be holistic and gratifying or it can be disruptive, warlike and destructive. Whatever the outcome, we are challenged by being shut-ins.

Ancient Mariner


On Being a Shut-in

Each of us knows at least one person who is a shut-in. There are different reasons for being a shut-in. If one is infirm, disabled, or functionally incompetent, obviously one has no choice but to live in the small, contained space of their home, which may be limited to one small room.

Another reason to become a shut-in is fear; the outside world has become too onerous. One fears one’s own incompetence. The home is a safe haven requiring no responsibility or accountability to the outside world.

Another reason, the reason mariner chose, is disgust and helplessness. It’s not so much he chose to become physically contained but that he has shut off news of the world – entirely. Not even reading websites of excellent repute. Mariner subscribes to a few top-tier magazines that lie on the table largely unread.

Mariner has lamented countless times about an electorate he perceives to be absent of any intellect whatsoever, any tiniest bit of compassion or integrity, and chooses to dwell in a land of misinformation, prejudice based on nothing, and accepts as true only those opinions and facts that fit the needs of one’s personal hippocampus.

Then there is the feeling of helplessness. Mariner is an old sailor that has lived a lifetime tilting at windmills no one else felt were important. The presence of Donald and dysfunctional legislatures across the land have induced great frustration and anger in mariner. He lives in a nation that shot dead the leaders of unified government, the Great Society and Civil Rights yet today would rather believe religiously in unfounded, false information and support only the most base interpretation of human rights and dignity. All the while, a kleptocratic President feeds the oligarchical power of an economy that does not include 99% of the electorate.

Having become a shut-in is clearly a different experience. The days are pleasant and mild; one notices how well the lilies bloomed this year; one putters in the workshop learning new woodworking techniques; one follows with little interruption the progress of tennis tournaments.

True, a feeling of uselessness pops up once in a while. In a relatively short amount of time mariner has retired from his job, divested real estate holdings, sold the farm, and is aware that grandparenthood, however pleasant, means one is not on the first team anymore. But mariner’s frustration and anger subside. It is possible to feel ‘normal.’

Do not feel obligated to draw mariner back into the real world run by the electorate; no matter the result of any election or legislative act, it still will be the world that frustrates and angers mariner. Being a shut-in can be quite palliative.

Ancient Mariner