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

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

 

Stuff of Dreams

Be forewarned, mariner is taking a dive into nerdism. A few nights ago mariner had one of those nights where one tosses and turns while the brain works feverishly on some very important issue (to the brain) that seemingly cannot be resolved so the brain keeps returning to the issue seeking resolution.

The brain was trying to define something about how time moves faster or maybe how change occurs rapidly. To make a long night short, the brain was wrestling with Bayes’ theorem, which generally is the kind of probability math that explains the probability of change in genetics among many similar probabilities, even betting on the Chicago Bears.

The conflicting equation, not an official mathematical equation, is Moore’s Law about how increasingly rapid engineers will stuff more transistors into a given space; just Moore’s opinion that has proven true for the last decade or two.

Mariner is not the nerd one might think knowing about these equations. Mariner read Nate Silver’s book about gambling probabilities which contained an entire chapter on Bayes’ theorem. Nate’s book has been a best seller for years. As for Moore’s Law, mariner spent many years as a consultant working on expanded databases – which requires smaller and smaller transistors per square inch.

Back to the brain’s preoccupation. Why? It took a day or two to realize that mariner had read an interesting article on LiveScience.com about the fact that the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way Galaxy will come together sooner than later. Of course, don’t hold your breath for a few billion years but apparently the brain was concerned about the effects of two galaxies crashing into one another. As anyone knows who has had these odd, nightlong dreams, don’t try to make sense of the assumptions.

Now to rinse away the nerdiness. Everyone who has had the opportunity to know is aware that the starting point for humans as we know them was about 90,000 years ago. Suddenly, major change occurred about 20,000 years ago as humans developed rudimentary economies; 12,000 years ago, humans developed religion; 6,000 years ago, humans developed sustainable nations; 300 years ago, electricity was harnessed; 200 years ago, the combustible engine was invented; 130 years ago, the automobile replaced the horse; Less than fifty years ago, computers took control of data; just yesterday, smartphones took over the human brain. Should readers be as concerned about the acceleration of change as mariner’s brain was?

As to Bayes’ theorem, hasn’t everyone thrown a rock into a pond and watched the ripples move out and away from the point where the stone entered the water? Bayes simply said, “What are the odds that the ripple will reach 20 feet within 5 seconds? Will Andromeda coalesce within 4 billion years? What are the odds?

– – – –

Incidentally, Mariner will be traveling for a couple of weeks (Does the reader feel he needs it?). Perhaps a post will be available but no promises.

Ancient Mariner

The mice warned us

The early pioneers in psychology, the standard list around the western world is Pavlov, Skinner, Jung, Maslow, Erickson, Rogers, Freud, and Piaget, focused on an individual’s response to reality. These folks helped us understand the physiology of the human brain and mind; they provided insight into the human response to love, fear, success, failure and a myriad other emotional behaviors. It wasn’t until the Second World War and after that psychology partnered with sociology and history to investigate group behavior. Similarly, management theory and economics incorporated psychology and sociology to uncover new approaches to management; one thinks of Deming, Drucker, Chandler and Aldrich among others.

An interesting observation is that the study of group behavior began about a decade before differences in individual behavior versus group behavior began to be documented in contemporary terms. Two world famous experiments were conducted that have become common knowledge. The first was one of a series of studies of mice by John B. Calhoun in 1972; the second was a college experiment performed at Stanford University in 1971 covered in the next post.

CALHOUN’S MICE

The mouse study was performed to answer the question, ‘what happens when overcrowding occurs?’ (The human brain is optimized for a social group of about 150-200 people). Calhoun was careful to eliminate the lack of resources as an influence and fed his mice with an endless supply of food, water and nutrition. Calhoun provided a mouse utopia with apartments and different levels called Universe 25; the initial number of mice was 8. The landings of the pilgrims and the first migration to the Middle East from the Rift Valley in Africa come to mind.

Brackets [] in the quoted material below are added by mariner.

At the peak population [2,200 by day 560], most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. [Nations live this way now on every continent except Australia and Antarctica] Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. [Forced migration] Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it. [Closely approximates behavior in estranged communities and certain starving populations in Africa; mice had no chemical alternatives or voluntary abortions]

The few secluded spaces [owned territories] housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” [wealthy class] Generally guarded by one male, the females—and few males—inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young.” [Comparatively, humans in their teens and twenties today have significantly less sex than their elders at the same age] [Add to that the lessening need to socialize with other humans directly because of the smartphone, TV and other electronics]

A notable side effect as the population approached its maximum was that mice that still had a bit of territory chased other male mice into specific corners at the opposite end of the cage. Mariner wonders whether suppressed groups in Africa and other nonproductive locations are simply ignored because there is no forced limit of territory at this time. Oh to live in Silicon Valley….

Now, in 2015, interpretations of Calhoun’s work have changed. Esther Inglis-Arkell (UCSF) explains that the habitats he created weren’t really overcrowded, but that aggressive mice enforced territorial prerogative to keep the beautiful ones isolated. She writes, “Instead of a population problem, one could argue that Universe 25 had a fair distribution problem.

“In 1972, with the baby boomers coming of age in an ever-more-crowded world and reports of riots in the cities, Universe 25 looked like a Malthusian nightmare. It [collapse of society] even acquired its own catchy name, “The Behavioral Sink.” If starvation didn’t kill everyone, people would destroy themselves. The best option was to flee to the country or the suburbs, where people had space and life was peaceful and natural.

“The fact remains that it [Universe 25] had a problem, and one that eventually led to its destruction. If this behavior is shared by both mice and humans, can we escape Universe 25’s fate?” [Inglis-Arkell]

Mariner leaves the door open for readers to have further speculation about group behavior in unbalanced societies.

Next post, the effect of power.

Ancient Mariner

Another Episode of Brain v Gorilla

When mariner moved to his current residence in a small Iowa town, he noticed that many families had leaf blowers. It is also true that town families have affection for any kind of two cycle engine some of which are cultivators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chain saws, air compressors, lawn trimmers, car washers, paint sprayers and generators. In recent years some two cycle engines have been replaced by battery-driven power using Lithium. All these devices save (avoid) physical labor.

When he was younger mariner remembers old timers saying, “Back in the day we had to cut grass with push mowers” or “When I was seven, I had to rake leaves with a rake and burn them” and of course the classic, “When I went to school, it was uphill both ways.” Many more examples of saving labor can be conjured. Technology has changed the level of labor-saving opportunities: “Back in my day we had to forge and shape our pistols on an anvil.” Today, of course, just turn on your 3D printer and one will be made for you.

Mariner observes this tendency to avoid labor as a universal characteristic of all living things. The squirrel in mariner’s back yard raids the bird feeder rather than hunt for food; monkeys in Bangladesh raid street market fruit stands with the precision of a navy seal team rather than hunt for food in the surrounding trees; chipmunks greatly prefer a life of pilfering to a legitimate relationship with nature; Raccoons prefer the corncrib to rummaging in the forest.

In response, most folks would say, “And?” Being retired and of an idle mind, mariner has time to speculate on this important dichotomy in evolution. Imagine that evolution did not have a fluid-like motion of change and a cause and effect adaptation over eons of time. Imagine that evolution was a result only of serendipity and otherwise was a defined marching order set forth by a permanent genome. Mariner dares to say evolution would fail and species would disappear even faster than humans have succeeded in expiring them.

Humans in particular are quite adaptive to their own circumstances. Humans even have created their own environmental reality far beyond the influence of two-cycle engines – to the chagrin of Mother Earth, also subject to planetary evolution. It is evident that the conflict between Brain and Gorilla grows more intense. (If the reader must be prompted, Brain is the grey matter in our skulls that has an extraordinary imagination unbound by anatomical ethics; Gorilla represents our physiologic constraints as a primate on evolution’s tree. Brain has no difficulty, in fact, enjoys manipulating anything and everything it can from atoms to global atmospheres. Gorilla is bound to follow the current constraints of its body and an environment favorable to that body.)

Too slow to notice, there is a cause and effect phenomenon created by our supple brains. The simplest example mariner can think of at the moment is the ability of the brain to control fire. Before Brain, fire was a cleansing function, born of the Solar System itself that reenergized an environment. The recent fires in California demonstrate how violent and indifferent fire cleansing can be. But Brain turned fire into an every day experience used to keep warm, cook, and incorporate into chemical processes (oil, explosives, herbicides, nuclear bombs and most important, electricity) that are to the advantage of human ingenuity. These new processes go far beyond any physiological requirements held by Gorilla – and often are in conflict with those physiological requirements.

Those who are concerned about the state of Gorilla, e.g., physicians, physical therapists and the like, lament an invention by Brain: the chair. Gorilla has a skeleton and musculature that is ruined by sitting in a chair. For the vast majority of us, sitting in a chair is the dominant activity of the day. Sitting in a chair leads to general back pain, stooped posture, bulbous abdomen, accelerates atrophy of leg muscles and arthritis. Compression of the viscera along with fat caused by sitting all the time interferes with kidney function, digestion and oxygenation. Functionally, the chair deters Gorilla from performing the exercise needed to remain fit.

Mariner offers the chair conflict as a simple metaphor for all the divergent issues between Brain and Gorilla. The most important effect of these conflicts lies in the unnoticed process of evolution. In recent centuries, as conflicts increase both in number and impact, Brain has begun to have visibly negative effects on Gorilla. Further, Gorilla’s environment has serious problems. Gorilla and its fellow creatures are not doing well and constitute a modern major extinction of species.

It is the inventiveness of Brain that forces scientists to rename the present Holocene Epoch as the Anthropocene Epoch because Brain has such an impact on Earth’s environment.[1] Evolutionary activity typically follows a significant change in environment. Briefly, the primary demise of dinosaurs and the beginning of mammals and birds was caused by destruction of the Earth’s environment by a meteorite. While Gorilla hasn’t changed much in a million years and its needs have been met by the environment, Brain has separated its environmental needs from the traditional habitat of Gorilla.

Brain requires above all else a controlled, electrically-based environment. To emphasize this transition, the next era of Brain (AKA human) progress will be artificial intelligence (AI). AI will enable Brain to replicate human behavior in robots and androids, including perception through the five human senses (Gorilla senses?). Relative to all the immense changes of the next age, how long will it take for Brain to cohabitate with its new friends and not need Gorilla or Gorilla’s habitat?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An excellent and easy to read reference about Brain’s impact on Earth’s history can be found at https://www.livescience.com/28219-holocene-epoch.html

On Lack of Literary Greatness

Mariner has one comment on the results of the 2018 midterm elections:

Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate to 51+ seats — even though 10 million more people voted for Senate Democrats than for Republicans. The Senate was never intended to be a democratic institution. Today it is a hurtful political influence when our nation, indeed the world, needs desperately to deal with human issues, scruples and a new democratic vision.

– – – –

Of more immediate interest, Mariner will never be an author of insightful literary works. The post, “A Future of Oneness,” was written as an allegorical work depicting life without human friendship, love, bonding, compassion and even argument and disagreement – between authentic human beings. Alas mariner’s crude prose left readers only with a literal interpretation of the future, either a gushy basketball or extinction.

In truth, the distant future doesn’t matter much if at all. Our only relationship to the distant future is our disregard for our own wellbeing today. What is missing from this allegory is physical, three dimensional, person-to-person respect and affection, and a desire to participate in these intimate experiences above the need to engage in electronic distraction and convenience.

Many times mariner has witnessed couples sitting beside one another foregoing mutual conversation and the exercise of hippocampus engagement in favor of some nondescript, certainly inhuman distraction on an electronic device. Allegorically, we are adapting to a future as gushy basketballs needing only a port connection to the gushy network.

Similarly, foregoing real experiences intertwined with real human beings, even loved ones dear to one’s heart, so that one can talk to an electronic box full of faux confederacies interested only in manipulation, seems headed for gushiness as well.

Mariner read a psychologist’s article that said android devices are an escape from the energy and commitment required to relate to fellow humans. Yet, that is what living as a human is all about. The commitment we choose to escape is the authentic experience of being human.

As to the second allegorical reference of extinction, two elements are of supreme importance: breeding and environment. One won’t have many children copulating with various sex toys and realistic androids. It is easy even to include smart phones as a distraction from human interaction and the commitment required for foreplay or just having an interesting conversation. Surely, after ninety million years of evolution, the intimate practices between humans has become the most important experience we can have and to which we owe priority over electronic circuitry no matter how disguised.

On the matter of environment – just as with the ease of preferring the convenience and laziness provided by electronics – wealth, physical comfort, and the avoidance of what a real human life is all about, distract humans from their obligation to maintain their environment. A major premise in the study of creatures of all kinds, including humans, is that there must be a net zero relationship with the source of life – environment. Only humans can deliberately alter the net zero relationship: we burn oil for money, convenience, distractions like war, the convenience not to physically weed millions of acres of crops, and so forth – even though our environment is no longer under our control. The planet itself has taken charge. Will the planet allow us to survive or will it choose extinction?

Ancient Mariner

 

A Future of Oneness

Mariner mentioned that he took a trip recently to visit friends and family. He has been traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike for many, many, many years. Do any readers remember the service stops alongside the turnpike where one did not have to exit the toll road? If the reader hasn’t traveled I-76 recently, these service stops have been upgraded to modern facilities. They are pleasant, much roomier, with up-to-date restrooms and the stop incorporates several chain stores chief among them Starbucks and Burger King along with tourist trap stores and gasoline stations.

This was mariner’s first experience with order kiosks at Burger King. A customer doesn’t need to interact with another human being to have a meal; just push buttons and pay with one’s transaction-tracked credit card. Mariner chose to interact with a fellow human being and ordered lunch at the traditional counter by talking with a pleasant older woman who shared in an aside that she didn’t like the kiosks, either.

This isolation of human beings appears to be a trend. No longer does one need a checkout clerk to kibitz with or an aisle clerk to tell one where Mexican catsup is. Increasingly, a customer checks themselves out now with the conversation limited to a muttering to one’s self about checking out alone. Even more isolationist is the ability to order one’s groceries over the telephone and have them delivered to one’s home. The US claim of “In many one” will soon be “In many none.”

Walmart and Amazon are well on the way toward social isolationism. What happened to a human’s natural relationship to environment, time invested and store clerks visited? Then there’s Facebook. Lack of government regulation about privacy and security aside, there are members of mariner’s family whose only family relationship across years of time is digital; digital photographs are shared to remember what a human lifeform looks like.
And of course the smartphone and Alexa. Mariner is quite sure that soon humanlike robots will be purchased so real humans will have someone to dance with when they ask Alexa to play some oldies.

Mariner has read some marginal futurists who claim the human being will evolve into a brain with a few key visceral organs – all of which are sustained by AI food supply, medicines and communication – a lot like Facebook now but much more sophisticated and very, very, communist. Even the five senses will be replaced with electronic sensory imitations. In other words, the end of Homo sapiens is a gushy basketball attached to a port in a massive network of gushy basketballs.

But mariner doubts this scenario. He listens to Amos, who says the entire Planet is in a death spiral; the Sixth Extinction means humans too, not just tigers and giraffes.

Have a pleasant election.

Ancient Mariner

 

FYI

Tidbits from mariner’s email:

֎60 percent of vertebrate species

According to a new report from the World Wide Fund For Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund), there has been an average 60 percent decline in vertebrate animal species population — you know, like mammals, fish, birds, etc. — between 1970 and 2014. “Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions,” the report reads. The cause? “Exploding human consumption.” [BBC]

֎2,681 planets

The Kepler Space Telescope is dead. Long live the Kepler Space Telescope. The NASA craft discovered 2,681 planets since its launch in 2009, along with many more promising outer space “blips.” Kepler ran out of fuel. It will be missed. [The Verge]

֎1 million lost users

Facebook saw zero growth in the U.S. and Canada and lost 1 million users in Europe last quarter. God bless you brave million. Go outside. Dance. Sing. Frolic. Be free. [TechCrunch]

֎The Democratic Divide:

New York progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did better in gentrifying precincts than she did in working-class neighborhoods. Do blue-collar Democrats really want what the far left is offering? [David Freedlander, Politico Magazine]

֎How much will summer temperatures in US cities change by 2050?

Des Moines, Iowa:             2018 – 85.4° ….. 2050 – 91.1°

Los Angeles, California:    2018 – 83.5 ….. 2050 – 87.1°

Baltimore, Maryland:         2018 – 82.6° ….. 2050 – 92.3°

Denver, Colorado:             2018 – 86.4° ….. 2050 – 91.7°

New York City, New York: 2018 – 83.1° ….. 2050 – 87.9°

Billings, Montana:              2018 – 85.4° ….. 2050 – 90.7°

Miami, Florida:                   2018 – 89.9° ….. 2050 – 93.4°

Phoenix, Arizona:              2018 – 104.7° ….. 2050 – 109.2°

[VOX]

֎Worried about voting? Here’s what to know before you go:

Double Check Your Registration

Know Your State’s ID Requirements

Know Where You’re Going

Beware of Misinformation

Find Out What’s on Your Ballot Right Now

Access to the Ballot if You’re Disabled

Vote Provisionally if You Must

If All Else Fails, Call For Help [ProPublica]

Ancient Mariner

 

Environment as a Change Agent

65 million years ago during the early Paleocene, the first primate-like creature evolved from the family Plesiadaptis. It was a small tree-climbing mammal that looked more like an insect-eating tree shrew. It was the beginning of the great age of primates and especially the branch of evolution that led to Homo sapiens – us.

This isn’t so long ago, actually. The dinosaurs existed for 230 million years until the biosphere was rudely interrupted by a meteor strike and to a lesser degree by some growing genetic deficiencies. Even so, such long timelines expose the role of the biosphere as a major player in evolution. Humans would not have been happy living during an earlier era of Earth’s history; the continents would have to spread out a bit to permit acceptable weather patterns and ocean currents; a few intense ice ages would be required to transition to fresh water so land creatures could evolve.

The reader is aware of the old, trite puzzle, ‘what came first the chicken or the egg?’ The puzzle hangs around because there are two logical answers: immediately, the answer is the first chicken hen must exist before there can be the first chicken egg; the other path of reasoning is that the genome of the chicken first occurred within the egg – a composite of several generations of genetic shifts. But another question precedes: What came first the chicken or the environment? Inevitably, the environment must be suitable for chickens in general to exist.

Environments normally change slower than creature evolution. Still, creatures have no choice except to adapt or disappear. On the other hand, creatures will modify the environment to fit their needs. For example, ahermatypic coral draw calcium from their environment to build homes for themselves; the beaver rearranges trees and leaves to build a dam which makes a pond, which enables a home safe from predators by placing the home in the middle of the pond. Neither creature has created a new biosphere but has rearranged a few conditions to better fit their needs.

So it is with humans. What humans sense about the environment is that it does not guarantee safety or longevity. In the great migration of pioneers across the western US, the environment was a threat, not a means of sustenance; the great gardens of the British Isles and Europe which require constant maintenance and an appearance of tight control also stems from an innate sense that the environment is not necessarily man’s best friend and must be mastered. One can imagine that the whole science of astrology is an effort to place meaning into an indifferent cosmos.

Innately, humans have sought to make life better and more secure by rearranging the environment. It started in earnest by collecting iron, copper, coal, nickel and other minerals; humans have always been aware of magnetic resonance in some fashion (electric charges in fish were documented in 2750 BC) but did not begin to extract magnetic forces until 1600 when William Gilbert identified the phenomenon and coined the word ‘electricus.’ Throughout the next 300+ years, humans were able to organize electrical resources to make life easier with motors, tools, light and energy in many forms. In the early 1900’s, Einstein and Fermi expanded electrical knowledge by entering the world of nuclear physics and quantum theory – the very building blocks of the biosphere and the Universe itself.

Humans are rearranging the biosphere to fit their species’ needs – nothing more than super intelligent beavers. But there is a difference. The human brain is a genuine mutation. A new branch of evolution’s tree is emerging. It is a species that will survive as the planet’s environment experiences significant changes.

One marvels at the synchrony between environment and evolution. We humans live lives and have known families in just a hundred years or so; written history goes back only a few thousand years. Modern Homo sapiens has existed only about 90,000 years. Our scale of change isn’t worth the blink of an eye. On the planetary scale, environment and evolution are changing every moment but at such an insignificant pace that it takes eons to notice.

Serendipitously, we live at a time where both the environment and the world’s specie profile are changing more rapidly than usual. The question to ponder is how much change is forced by our beaver habits and how much is caused by planetary shifts and cycles? Mariner suggests the combination is algebraic, changing more rapidly and more drastically than a normal curve of change would suggest.

Speaking in broad terms, it appears the human brain prefers the world of artificial intelligence, that is, an environment less dependent on mammalian characteristics and more dependent on an environment of electromagnetic existence. As our brains wrestle with this odd transition, the mammalian behaviors still hold on to make life awkward; sort of having one foot in and one foot out, so to speak. CBS news covered the fact that electronic giants like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs limit the use of smart phones by their children; just one small incident of struggle between the mammalian instincts and the brain’s preference for electronic communication.

We have pondered the end of the Earth and Sun since primitive times. The idea of Armageddon and the idea that we can escape to a heaven reflect our awareness that the mammalian age will not last forever. Will a life of artificial intelligence enable survival for a longer time as the Earth moves through ages of growing disruption to the mammalian environment? Perhaps the forces of environmental balance push species survival – invoking evolution one day at a time.

Ancient Mariner

 

Man’s Role on Earth

It’s the year 1870. Two American Bison are talking. One says to the other, “It doesn’t look good for us, Bill. We’ve been hit with the Man parasite.”

Yesterday, two Parrotfish are cruising along the Coral Reef. One says to the other, “Did you hear they’re shutting down the whole reef? It has a Man infection.”

A Bengal Tiger and A Silverback Gorilla are resting by the waterhole. The Tiger says, “My cub came back to me the other day and said he couldn’t find a place to live and that he’d have to move back with me. I don’t have enough room as it is.” The Gorilla replied, “Tell me about it. That Man infestation will be the end of us all.”

Two wild Salmon are swimming up the Chuit River in Alaska. One says to the other, “You know this is the last time our families will swim up this river – The Chuit open face coal mine and gas wells will cause Man poisoning.”

Mother Nature finally had to call a meeting of the Living Creatures Task Force. The Man parasite had eliminated 600 major species in just 100 years and thousands of species were complaining of disorders from gentrification, disease, poisoning, starvation and unnecessary violence and murder.

In the past, Mother Nature had been a bit conservative, surmising the Man parasite had enough intelligence to curb its excesses. Now she had to concede that things were out of hand. Mother Nature presented to the task force two subcommittee reports; one from the planet climate subcommittee and one from the Committee on Species Population.

“The climate report doesn’t look good,” she said. “Both the atmosphere and the oceans are out of balance from Man infections.”

A flatfish piped up, “I heard Man plans to dredge the ocean floor for increasingly rare minerals – where can I go?” There was a growing rumble rising from the task force.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Mother Earth said. “The Climate report says the damage is irreparable as far out as the next ice age.”

She switched to the report from the Committee on Species Population. Her face grew pale. “The report says species are becoming extinct at a rate higher than the first five extinctions – and there hasn’t been a Solar System catastrophe.” “Except for the Man parasite,” a beaver shouted. There was a general response to the beaver and discussion centered on the overpopulation of the Man parasite at the expense of other species.

Mother Earth turned to the Chairman of the Solar System Committee, an Andean Condor. “Do we expect any surprises from the Solar System?”

The Condor replied that Jupiter and Saturn are in syzygy which likely will cause an ice age at some point. Further, the Condor suggested that a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field is due. “At least the Sun’s eleven-year solar cycle has been uneventful.” Condor added.

“I saw in the climate report that the world’s estuaries will be flooded by rising water levels,” a mud puppy commented. “To say nothing about shellfish,” a Maryland crab whispered.

Mother Earth gaveled the task force to order. “I’ll have to give this some thought,” she said. “I am concerned that the cure will be catastrophic; we will all suffer mightily.”

She gaveled the meeting of the Living Creatures Task Force to a close.

Ancient Mariner