REPRINT!!

Danger Ahead

If there is any strength the US has to stand up against a hostile world, it is the US Intelligence Service. Coupled with the best funded military in the world, other nations think twice about taking on the US mano-a-mano.

In this most serious sector of US policy, Donald is showing his disregard for US security in favor of money schemes and showing his incompetence as a Commander-in-Chief.

This is beyond political rhetoric, beyond the politics of ‘the base’, beyond the dysfunctional condition of Congress. Donald is, in a seriously inept way, playing with the security of the US – a monkey with keys to the vault. He has no regard for anything that does not add wealth to his pocket. Under his leadership, the subtleties of international relationships are irrelevant.

Unfortunately, there is no Congress to take him to task. The electorate must suffer through an ever increasing dismantle of the US image and its authority. The electorate must endure to the election. The nation is at risk in a way that has not existed since the Second World War.

Ignore the ‘base’; ignore the do-nothing-Congress; ignore the true conflict surrounding the loss of jobs under Reaganism – the security of the US is at stake.

Ancient Mariner

Contemporary References

Today’s post is all reference section. Mariner provides a list of intriguing and entertaining articles from various sources that help us interpret daily life in a modern and unconstrained world.

REFERENCE SECTION

This first article from the Atlantic Magazine is about how the business world manipulates how users relate to their smartphones:

Copy website to reader’s browser

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/08/how-dark-patterns-online-manipulate-shoppers/595360/

The linguist Gretchen McCulloch aims to clear some things up with her new book, Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language. The “new” rules, she says in an interview, are emergent. Basically, communicating requires more than just a factual statement pursuing clarity; it also must simultaneously convey a state of emotion associated with those facts. Provided by NPR:

https://www.npr.org/2019/07/31/747020219/our-language-is-evolving-because-internet?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190801&utm_campaign=books&utm_term=artsbooksculture&utm_id=39748169

 

Just so the reader knows, CRISPR is not something to keep lettuce fresh. “CRISPR = Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats are segments of prokaryotic DNA containing short repetitions of base sequences.” Basically, it is a sequence of DNA that has space at the end where specially contrived DNA can be affixed – thereby changing the genome of the creature at hand. Science Magazine shows us how Chinese Agronomists are changing food crop characteristics:

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6452/422?utm_campaign=toc_sci-mag_2019-08-01&et_rid=590596864&et_cid=2929035

Puerto Rico isn’t the only troubled subculture within the United States. At the other end to the North is Alaska, with deep concerns about sexual abuse in communities that have no law enforcement. ProPublica offers this sobering account of life in the back country:

https://features.propublica.org/local-reporting-network-alaska/alaska-sexual-violence-village-police/

Ancient Mariner

Fly By Subjects from Mariner’s Mail

֎ Astrophysicists have pursued dark matter for decades. It seems there is growing evidence for yet another kind of dark matter. The new dark matter is called ‘Chameleon Theory.’ It is so named because it can change its mass thereby ‘hiding’ among other objects. If the reader is interested, check out https://www.livescience.com/65919-chameleon-theory-explains-dark-energy-maybe.html?utm_source=lst-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190712-lst

֎ The US dominates international trade when it comes to services. The following statements are from a Politico podcast.

The national dialogue about trade has almost exclusively focused on hard goods, the things the US makes or grows. But if the tariff debate focuses only on goods, there is a risk of leaving out something crucial to our understanding of trade today. There’s been an equally stunning shift in a different segment of the economy. . . . In fact, when we look at the US, the US actually runs a trade surplus when it comes to the services component.

. . . . The hottest areas of the economy, consumer tech, software, retail, entertainment, and communications now account for the most number of jobs, and they’re becoming export industries.

– – – An educational podcast that looks at global trade from a fresh perspective. See the podcast at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sponsored-content-rethinking-americas-role-in-global/id1202281739?i=1000442921861

֎ Fivethirtyeight.com (Nate Silver’s website) has an article about the Democratic campaign for the presidency. A hidden influence is asking voters who their second choice would be. See: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/lanes-are-starting-to-emerge-in-the-2020-democratic-primary/

֎ From The Atlantic: The age of TikTok begins.

If you didn’t know, now you know. The fun, jumpy, puppy-and-meme-laden video app is well on its way to becoming the next big social network. It’s already broken the 1-billion-monthly-users mark and ranks as the third-most installed app worldwide—just behind Facebook’s WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger—for the first quarter of 2019. TikTok overtook YouTube as the star of this year’s VidCon, an influential gathering of content creators in Anaheim, California. “The older generation doesn’t realize how important TikTok is yet,” one 21-year-old attendee told our Gen Z translator Taylor Lorenz. See: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/07/tiktok-stars-are-preparing-take-over-internet/593878/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_content=20190712&silverid-ref=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

Ancient Mariner

Good and Bad

֎ A number of polls suggest that Democratic voters now consider climate change to be a top-tier issue, as important as health care. Perhaps even more remarkably, the party’s presidential candidates seem to be taking that interest seriously. Jay Inslee has staked his candidacy on the issue; Beto O’Rourke has used a climate proposal to revive his flagging campaign; and Elizabeth Warren has cited the warming planet across a wide set of her famous plans. Three cheers for the electorate.

– – – –

֎ Forget Donald’s public display of attention-getting rhetoric. His real damage is occurring in his cabinet – which isn’t eager to have attention brought to it. Every sector of the cabinet is on a destructive warpath against civility, science, housing, environment, business regulations, domestic fairness and Obama. NPR did a special report on Donald’s war against the poor. Mariner provides an exegesis below but he seriously encourages the reader to visit the NPR article. (https://www.npr.org/2019/06/11/730639328/trump-wants-to-limit-aid-for-low-income-americans-a-look-at-his-proposals?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20190611&utm_campaign=breakingnews&utm_term=nprnews&utm_id=39748169 )

Food aid

Trump Signs Farm Bill, Backs Rule Sidestepping Congress on More Work for Food Stamps

◾ The Department of Agriculture has called for stricter enforcement of a requirement that able-bodied adults work, volunteer or get job training for at least 20 hours a week to continue getting their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps, after three months. 750,000 SNAP recipients will likely have their benefits cut off.

 

Payday loans and Debt Traps

◾ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed rescinding an Obama-era regulation that would require payday lenders to determine whether a borrower has the ability to repay the loan. That regulation was intended to prevent low-income borrowers from becoming saddled with ballooning debt because payday loans can carry annual interest rates of 300% or more.

 

Trump Administration Considering Changes That Would Redefine the Poverty Line

◾ The Office of Management and Budget is considering whether to recalculate the official poverty line using a different inflation measure.

 

Fear of Deportation or Green Card Denial Deters Some Parents from Getting Kids Care

◾ The Department of Homeland Security has proposed limiting the ability of immigrants to get green cards if they receive government benefits, such as SNAP or housing aid. Social service providers have already seen a big drop in immigrant families signing up for assistance, including Medicaid and SNAP, because of fears that it could hurt their efforts to get green cards or become citizens.

◾ President Trump signed a memorandum May 23 calling on federal agencies to enforce a law requiring those who sponsor green card holders to reimburse government agencies for the cost of any public benefits used by the immigrant.

 

Housing

Proposed housing Rule Could Evict 55,000 Children from Subsidized Housing

◾ The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a rule that would deny housing assistance to families with one or more members who are undocumented immigrants. The administration notes that those in the country illegally are not eligible for housing aid, although HUD now prorates rental assistance for such “mixed status” families to take that into account. By HUD’s own estimate, 55,000 children who are either citizens or legal residents could lose their housing as a result of the move. Critics call the proposal “cruel” and are waging a vigorous campaign to block it. HUD Secretary Ben Carson defended it, saying that “it seems only logical that taxpaying American citizens should be taken care of first” and that the change would provide more aid for needy Americans. However, HUD’s own analysis concludes that the rule would lead to fewer people getting housing aid and to an increase in homelessness. The public comment period for the proposed rule runs through July 9, but House Democrats are trying to prevent HUD from enforcing such a rule.

◾ The Agriculture Department is expected to propose a rule later this year similar to HUD’s proposal, to restrict the use of rural housing assistance for households that have one or more members who are undocumented immigrants.

◾ HUD has proposed that the operators of federally funded homeless shelters be allowed to determine which services transgender individuals can use. Operators could base their decisions on their religious beliefs, among other factors. Critics say that if the rule is adopted, transgender individuals could be kicked out of shelters or forced to use ones that serve a gender they do not identify with. HUD Secretary Carson had assured lawmakers at a congressional hearing May 21 that he did not anticipate eliminating Obama-era rules that protect transgender individuals from housing discrimination, and lawmakers were angry to see the proposed rule on a list published by the administration the following day. Details of the rule are expected to be made public later this year for comment. About 1 in 5 transgender individuals experience homelessness at some point in their lives, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

 

Shots – Health News

Federal Judge Again Blocks States’ Work Requirements For Medicaid

◾ The administration has approved waivers allowing eight states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, although legal challenges have blocked such efforts in Kentucky and Arkansas. The administration argues that the requirement will encourage people to join the workforce, but opponents say that instead it will deny low-income families much-needed medical aid. About 18,000 Arkansas residents lost their Medicaid coverage when the work requirements went into effect in that state last year.

 

Census citizenship question

GOP Redistricting Strategist Played Role In Push For Census Citizenship Question

◾ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has proposed adding a question to the 2020 census asking whether an individual is a U.S. citizen. The administration says that it needs the information to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, but opponents believe that the real motive is to diminish minority representation. Civil rights groups argue that the question will discourage immigrant and noncitizen households from participating in the census. The result would be an undercount, especially in areas with large immigrant populations. Opponents of the change say low-income communities would be harmed because the census numbers are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal aid, including many safety net benefits. They’ve challenged the citizenship question in court. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in June.

 

Overtime pay

Labor Department Rethinking Obama-Era Overtime Pay Rule

◾ The Department of Labor has proposed increasing the wage level below which workers would automatically be eligible for overtime pay on time worked over 40 hours a week. The Trump administration would raise the current $23,660 a year threshold to $35,308, which would make an estimated 1 million more workers eligible for overtime. However, the Trump proposal would replace an Obama-era rule that would have increased the level to $47,476 and covered four times as many workers. That plan has been blocked in court, in part because of strong opposition from small businesses, which say it would impose a big financial burden. The public comment period on the Trump proposal ends June 12.

 

This is just the wellbeing of the poor. Obviously sympathy has no place in governance of the public. A similar litany of Donald’s cabinet can be written for banks, the environment, public land and parks, taxes, corporate regulation, humane farming and an isolationism that diminishes the nation’s wellbeing among nations.

Ancient Mariner

Just so you know . . .

֎ 415 parts per million

At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, carbon dioxide levels were recorded at 415 parts per million last week. That is the highest level recorded there since it began such analyses in 1958. It’s also 100 parts per million higher than any point in the roughly 800,000 years for which scientists have data on global CO2. In other words, “levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now nearly 40 percent higher than ever in human history.” [Popular Science]

֎ Utah recently passed a law that requires doctors to give anesthesia to a fetus prior to performing an abortion that occurs at 20 weeks of gestation or later. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said it considers the case to be closed as to whether a fetus can feel pain at that stage in development.

“The science shows that based on gestational age, the fetus is not capable of feeling pain until the third trimester,” said Kate Connors, a spokesperson for ACOG. The third trimester begins at about 27 weeks of pregnancy.

To find out more, see: https://www.livescience.com/54774-fetal-pain-anesthesia.html?utm_source=ls-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190518-ls

֎ Can students’ life circumstances be quantified alongside their SAT score? The College Board’s new “disadvantage” score attempts to add a measurable layer of context to each student’s test score, taking in environmental factors such as crime rates and housing values where the student lives. Test-taking students won’t see their score, but 150 participating colleges will begin evaluating applicants on this metric in the fall. Notably, the score doesn’t look at race, so it can still be used in states that have banned racial preferences in public-college admissions. [The Atlantic]

֎ The United States is facing an affordable housing crisis.

Nearly two-thirds of renters nationwide say they can’t afford to buy a home, and saving for that down payment isn’t going to get easier anytime soon: Home prices are rising at twice the rate of wage growth. According to research from the advocacy group Home1, 11 million Americans (roughly the population of New York City and Chicago combined) spend more than half their paycheck on rent. Harvard researchers found that in 2016, nearly half of renters were cost-burdened (defined as spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent), compared with 20 percent in 1960. [More at Curbed.com]

Now is the time to tour one’s favorite botanical garden. Make an outing of it with an outdoor lunch. This time of bountiful blossoms lasts only a week or two. Peace of mind may be discovered amid the tumultuous moment in history that everyone is experiencing.

Ancient Mariner

Abortion

This post, to say the least, reflects advocacy, prejudice and disdain.

Mariner’s mother had congenital heart disease. He was born when she was eighteen. Four years later, she became pregnant with his brother. She was advised not to have the baby but no one would perform a safe abortion. Mariner’s father could find no one to perform an abortion. She carried to term and mariner’s brother was born. Mariner’s mother was bedbound for two years then spent her last year in a hospital in an oxygen tent. She died when mariner was eight years old, leaving horrendous hospital bills for his father and left mariner and his four year old brother without a mother.

For the holier than others conservatives, irrational religious fanatics and political hackers, mariner has disdain. They don’t understand that pregnancy has many reasons not to be in the best interest of people’s intimate lives. They don’t understand that abortion is not a political decision. They don’t understand that the Constitution in no way gives them the right to own the life of any woman – any more than owning black slaves. Mariner’s mother wasn’t even black.

Basing the political conflict on fetal arguments of any kind is useless. People who oppose abortion aren’t scientifically minded nor would those arguments matter. Mariner notes that these same faux aristocrats have the same disrespect for other life-taking issues:

Among all other issues, war kills more than any other political misappropriation. The last thing a sane, emotionally secure person would desire is to go to war – about anything.

Failure to provide medical care to the poor and indigent is another way of saying “Let them die before I measure my dollars versus their life.”

Should a woman give birth to an unwanted child, the curse of prejudice stays with the child. The United States tolerates one in five children living beneath the poverty line. Further, the United States and its anti-abortionists cause the United States to rank 47th among all nations in infant mortality per 1,000 births. Anti-abortionists are rife with hubris, irrational thought and no capability to feel empathy and compassion.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

We must talk

Everyone is aware of the topic ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’. The difficulty is that there is no actual definition, experience or data that defines these terms. Clouding the dialogue is conflict between naysayers, entrepreneurs, ostrich heads, unprepared government representatives and science. The casual attitude by most around the world is, “Well, maybe. But it’s too far in the future for me to worry about.”

The reality is that climate change officially began with the first report of atmospheric modification back in 1853. The primary culprit is known today as burning fossil fuels. What is hard to accept is the gradual change – ever so slight – of weather, planet behavior, environmental degradation and other subtleties such as the effect of eliminating forests, open chemical drainage and destroying estuaries and tidal plains in the name of real estate development.

A record-setting amount of damage has occurred across the planet – including the United States – that no longer can be denied. Something is different. It is destructive, expensive and takes lives. Storms are stronger; rain is heavier; drought is prolonged; atmospheric quality affects health. If mariner may use an analogy, visiting with a cow and calf is pleasant until more cows come running; and even more cows come running. A pleasant interlude with one cow becomes a life-threatening stampede. Since about 1970-90, the rate of change has shifted slowly from arithmetic to geometric, that is, the rate of change was moving along at 1,2,3,4,5,6…. Recently, the rate of change has shifted to 1,2,4,8,16,32….

Even the US Congress, bless them, is preparing a disaster relief bill with a budget in the billions and both parties are collaborating. Climate change must be serious!!! The cost of climate change perhaps is the most threatening aspect, capable of bringing the nation’s economy to its knees.

USNews just released an article that begins to provide measurable data. A summary is below; remember that when the term “in the next century” is used, that doesn’t mean it will start in the next century; it indeed already has begun. Metaphorically, the cows already are multiplying.

[USNews] A report released Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the homes of nearly 3.9 million Americans are at risk of flooding by the next century if the sea level rises one foot, as many climate scientists have predicted. While usual suspects such as New Orleans, southern Florida and the Manhattan section of New York City are at great risk, some more surprising areas also have large populations living less than a meter above sea level. Ben Strauss, director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central, told us which states are most at risk of devastating floods during the next 100 years.

Georgia – 28,000 people living in 127 square miles of low-lying land are at risk of being flooded.

Massachusetts – Only about 32 square miles of Massachusetts is vulnerable to being flooded, but it’s a dense area, with about 52,400 people at risk.

North Carolina – 58,000 people living in more than 40 towns and municipalities in North Carolina are in danger of flooding, according to Strauss’ report. The state is prone to hurricanes, although it has largely avoided major damage in recent years.

South Carolina – In 1989, hurricane Hugo pounded downtown Charleston with five-foot high walls of water, damaging three quarters of homes in the historic district. Strauss says the area is especially vulnerable to flooding. In the state, 60,000 residents live in dangerous low-lying areas.

Virginia – Strauss says Norfolk is at the most risk in Virginia—about 75,000 people live in the state’s 120 square miles of low-lying dry land.

New Jersey – New Jersey only had 67 square miles of dry land in the “danger zone,” but more than 154,000 people live in those areas, putting the Garden State at risk.

New York – Last month, a researcher said that storm swells could easily devastate Manhattan over the next 100 years, and Strauss wrote that the city had a “one-inch escape from Hurricane Irene.” Manhattan has sea walls, but with 300,000 people living less than a meter above sea level, they’re at risk, Strauss says.

California – “In southern California, you never think of coastal floods,” Strauss says. Southern California often gets storms that push the high tide line three feet above sea level, but it rarely goes above that. “By middle century, when you have a foot of sea level rise, they’ll be seeing water to four feet regularly. There’s a lot of development and assets between three and four feet,” Strauss says, adding that relatively flat areas such as Huntington Beach and Long Beach are at the most risk. More than 325,000 people live less than a meter above sea level.

Louisiana – “The odds for extreme coastal floods have already increased dramatically for most locations we’ve studied,” says Strauss. No one knows that better than the people of Louisiana, who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More than 888,000 people live in the 1,180 square miles of dry land less than a meter above sea level, by far the largest vulnerable area in the United States.

Florida – More than 1.6 million people live in the 638 square miles of Florida’s coast that are less than one meter above sea level. Strauss says South Florida will likely have to migrate to higher ground, because the bedrock off the coast of Miami is “like Swiss cheese,” making it impossible to build a sea wall.

Globally, there are ten nations that may not survive economically:

Bangladesh – Climatic changes: A tropical monsoon country, Bangladesh is prone to floods, tropical cyclones, and tornadoes, which occur almost every year, and now the low-lying country is suffering increased rainfall, cyclones and rising sea levels. Over the coming decades it is estimated that 20 million climate refugees will emerge from Bangladesh.

Guinea Bissau – Not to be confused with Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, or Papua New Guinea, Guinea Bissau is soon to be placed on the map in its own right, no longer to be mixed up with other similar-sounding countries.

Guinea Bissau experiences a monsoon-like rainy season alternating with hot, dry winds blowing from the Sahara. Rainfall has become irregular and unpredictable. The coastal lowlands are exposed to increasing rising tides due to thermal ocean expansion, which in turn increases the risk of flooding. Damage to infrastructure and loss of water security are already felt keenly, as is the loss of food security due to the loss of fish stocks and coral reefs, soil degradation and decreased agricultural yields. Guinea Bissau already is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

Sierra Leone – Sierra Leone’s climate is tropical, with a rainy season and a dry season which brings cool, dry winds from the Sahara. The population is now threatened by climate change-related droughts, storms, floods, landslides, heatwaves and altered rainfall patterns. Crop production is highly vulnerable to prolonged droughts interspersed with heavy rainfall, rendering Sierra Leone another country at high risk from threats to food and water security.

Haiti – Haiti’s climate is characterized by two seasons: the wet and the dry. Heavier rainfall is now occurring in the wet season, hurricanes are more frequent and less predictable, and sea level rise is a major concern. Climate projections, however, indicate a hotter and drier future for Haiti with decreased precipitation overall. Unseasonable droughts have caused widespread crop failure in recent years. Less than 2% of Haiti’s forest cover remains since the 1915-1934 US occupation, which oversaw the majority of deforestation due to concentrated land ownership for plantations.

South Sudan – South Sudan’s climate is tropical equatorial with a humid rainy season – with vast amounts of precipitation – and a drier season. However, climate change has delayed and shortened the rainy season, and drought has become an increasing concern.

Nigeria – Nigeria’s oil-based economy is set to suffer greatly, likely impacting the funds required to address climate change. Nigeria is already experiencing drier weather, particularly in the northern Sahel region, and droughts are increasing in frequency and severity.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – The DRC is the richest nation on earth in terms of natural resources, and the most biodiverse African country, yet one of the poorest nations on Earth, with 70% of the population living below the poverty line. The predicted increase in frequency of floods, droughts and heatwaves, is expected to impact agricultural productivity and livelihoods. Deforestation and land degradation due to mining are exacerbating these climate-related disasters

Cambodia – Climate change is expected to amplify already existing problems of water scarcity, agricultural failure and food insecurity. Extreme flooding is predicted to endanger the agriculture that supports the majority of the population. Extreme heat is also predicted.

Philippines – The term super-typhoon is set to become a fixture in climate-related vocabulary. Rising sea levels place the Philippines in a particularly vulnerable position, and increase the threat of storm surges that inundate vast coastal regions, threatening their populations who will be forced to migrate en masse if they are to escape the effects of food insecurity and loss of shelter and livelihood that result.

Ethiopia – Small-scale farmers – which make up 85% of the Ethiopian population – are expected to bear the brunt of climate change-induced drought in Ethiopia, resulting in water scarcity and food insecurity. Crops have failed and cattle are dying; it is probable that Ethiopia will experience more famines on the scale for which the nation is famed.

Mariner is confident of two situations occurring: Even as the world has not figured out how to deal with emigration, emigration will continue to worsen especially in a decade or two when the effects of climate change dramatically change weather patterns; migration of US citizens will cost billions and affect everything from housing to jobs. The second is a global depression. GDP will suffer significantly at the same time the cost of climate change is beginning to affect national economies.

Thanks to USNews, Shift Magazine and Maplecroft.com for providing much of the detail in this post.

– – – –

OF NOTE

Barbara Res, a construction manager in the early 1980s, recalled:

“We met with the architect to go over the elevator-cab interiors at Trump Tower, and there were little dots next to the numbers. Trump asked what the dots were, and the architect said, “It’s braille.” Trump was upset by that. He said, “Get rid of it.” The architect said, “I’m sorry; it’s the law.” This was before the Americans With Disabilities Act, but New York City had a law. Trump’s exact words were: “No blind people are going to live in this building.” [June Atlantic]

Ancient Mariner

Did you know?

Day to day, we forget that if the billions of years of life on Earth were scaled to a twenty-four hour day, our settled civilizations began about a fifth of a second ago. [Falter, McKibben]

This implies that the existence of humanity, regardless of many years of human life ahead, is but a microscopic blip in the history of the Planet. The dinosaurs (during the Mesozoic Era inclusive of the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods) existed for over 170 million years. So far, the Homo clan has existed for 2.2 million years; modern humans, the troublesome sapiens kind, have existed only for 200,000 years.

There is scientific debate about the cause of extinction for dinosaurs. One or the other or both a large asteroid and/or excessive volcanic activity blocked the sunlight and caused atmospheric gases that made life impossible for dinosaurs – although virtually every other creature made it through this catastrophe in one way or another. The survival of other species suggests that the end of the Cretaceous Period was a slower change in the environment. Some scientists think while both catastrophes may have contributed to the extinction, they suggest the real cause was a more gradual shift in climate and changing sea levels.

Does that sound familiar? Humans are not blessed with asteroids but from time to time, large volcanoes have disrupted daily life around the planet. Just to be sure, though, humans have fossil fuels to create a warming climate and changing sea levels.

Another study suggests that the dinosaurs were overpopulated and suffering from disease and malnutrition during the end of the Cretacious. Humans have that covered, too, with excessive global population and intentional starvation across much of the Planet.

Mother Nature is not deterred from her strict laws for survival. Mother Nature is the spirit of the Planet – not of any life form per se. As to troublemaking humans, she says, “Capitalism, shmapitalism; profit, shmofit; AI, shmai – humans have never been in charge and never will be.”

Humans snub their noses and say they will leave Earth and live elsewhere in the cosmos. Where? On another planet?

Ancient Mariner

 

Oh My, Oh My

Not enough to worry about? Here’s more:

֎ A new paper, based on highly detailed observations taken using the Hubble Space Telescope, appears to confirm that everything in the Universe is expanding too fast – 9 percent too fast. [LiveScience.com]

֎ According to an annual Gallup poll of more than 150,000 people around the world, Americans are among the most stressed-out people on Earth. Fifty-five percent experienced stress during “a lot” of the previous day. That’s compared with 35 percent of stressed-out folks globally. [The New York Times]

֎ If you weigh the Earth’s terrestrial vertebrates, humans account for 30% of their total mass, and our farm animals for another 67%, meaning wild animals (all the moose and cheetahs and wombats combined) total just 3%. In fact, there are half as many wild animals on the planet as there were in 1970. [Falter, Has the Human Game begun to play itself out? Bill McKibben, Henry Holt]

֎ Earth Overshoot Day marks the date by which all of humanity has used more of our natural resources than the planet can renew in the entire year. In 2018, it fell on August 1. This means we are using the resources of 1.7 earths at present. We are using more resources than the earth can provide, largely through overfishing, cutting down our forests, and other unsustainable practices. [The Royal Gazette]

֎ Will we still be able to visit Treasure Island in the Bahamas when 80% of the islands will be under water by 2100? [Bahamas Association of Young Professionals]

֎A survey of nearly 800 top business leaders around the world listed global recession as their biggest concern for 2019. [Chicago Tribune]

֎The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sounding the alarm on a potentially life-threatening super fungus spreading across the United States. The deadly yeast fungus is called Candida auris and it’s lurking in hospitals and nursing homes. Nearly 600 cases have been confirmed across the United States, the CDC reports. While a majority of those cases are in New York, Illinois and New Jersey, several other states have each reported at least one case. More than one in three people with an invasive Candida auris infection can die, according to Illinois health department officials.[KCCI8, Des Moines]

Ancient Mariner

A Seismic Shift

The United States, indeed the World, stands at the precipice of an historic change. Not just generational change; not just new electronic horizons; not just shifts in culture; not even the same climate. The United States as it has existed since the Second World War and especially since the 1980s will not exist in twenty years.

Mariner hasn’t surmised this future. It is the opinion of many intellectual and professional writers, leaders, scientists and philosophers – several with Nobel Prizes, many with Pulitzer prizes – all with concern whether we will be prepared for the seismic shift. At the moment, the US and State Governments, the oligarchical economy, the lack of plans for an economy that cares for the entire population not just the privileged, the standoff between climate change and fossil fuel economy, the dysfunctional education and job preparation institutions, and the symptomatic rise of identity isolationism all suggest the common man on the street is woefully exposed to the vagaries of change over the next twenty years.

If the citizenry is to minimize its exposure to poverty, environmental travesty and political failure, each citizen must make an effort to improve sociability in family, community and have a moral obligation to the nation and its citizens. Further, each person must educate themselves to the realities that will confront the nation over the next twenty years.

To suggest a tone for pursuit of quality understanding and insights, mariner offers three recent books that address the seismic shift. There are many more books and magazines that already provide a steady stream about the nation’s imminent future. Mariner also lists several broadcasting sources that are veritable libraries of quality discourse. Everyone must respond to the changes. Become conscious of social morality and become educated.

Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity

by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics, University Professor at Columbia University, and chief economist of the Roosevelt Institute.

“The United States bills itself as the land of opportunity, a place where anyone can achieve success and a better life through hard work and determination. But the facts tell a different story—the U.S. today lags behind most other developed nations in measures of inequality and economic mobility. For decades, wages have stagnated for the majority of workers while economic gains have disproportionately gone to the top one percent. Education, housing, and health care—essential ingredients for individual success—are growing ever more expensive. Deeply rooted structural discrimination continues to hold down women and people of color, and more than one-fifth of all American children now live in poverty. These trends are on track to become even worse in the future.”

Falter

By Bill McKibben.

Bill McKibben is recognized around the world for his dedication to the environment and health of the planet. He first warned of climate change 30 years ago and says its effects are now upon us: “The idea that anybody’s going to be immune from this anywhere is untrue.”

In his latest book, Falter, McKibben broadens the potential disruption to question whether the human race is in an end game.

The Second Mountain, The Quest for a Moral Life

By David Brooks.

David Brooks is a Canadian-born American center-right political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times. He has worked as a film critic for The Washington Times; a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal; a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception; a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly; and a commentator on NPR. Brooks is currently a columnist for The New York Times and commentator on PBS NewsHour.

“This book is meant to help us all lead more meaningful lives. But it’s also a provocative social commentary. We live in a society, Brooks argues, that celebrates freedom and choice, that tells us to be true to ourselves, to march to the beat of our own drummer at the expense of surrendering to a cause, rooting ourselves in a neighborhood, and binding ourselves to others by social solidarity and love. We have taken individualism to the extreme degree—and, in the process, we have torn the social fabric in a thousand different ways. The path to repair is through making deeper commitments.”

Other Media

Mariner’s opinion is that FOX, CNN and MSNBC are low quality sources for actual and meaningful information. Instead, try perusing the CSPAN video library or keep an eye for meaningful book reviews on CSPAN-BOOKS.

Check out NEWSY, a low budget news channel with no frills, just the facts, no pundits and ongoing insightful specials about issues of the day.

Check out PBS and NPR – not just the broadcasts but peruse the websites.

Mariner has mentioned previously The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker and Scientific American Magazine as solid sources for insight into the reality of these times.

Check the New York Times for new books on important subjects.

How will Citizens prepare for the rapidly rising neo-Nazi presence in democratic nations? Even the US has a nationalist, racist President.

The bottom line – in the US at least – is an individual’s vote. Like a chess move, the vote must be played with insight and an awareness of future moves. Today’s US governments clearly are inept representations of a past that no longer applies. It is the reader’s job to vote for new values and knowledgeable representatives that will help everyone survive the seismic shift.

Ancient Mariner