Where’s the spine?

All around the nation educationists are increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of children and teenagers to illicit information and conspiracy theories, especially on the internet and social media. Already we have seen the disruption conspiracy theory can cause in grown adults especially when leaders like a recent President and extreme left and right organizations play professional dodgeball with the truth.

There are many websites and educational journals covering this subject. One that has a good synopsis is the article in Feb. 2022 Scientific American, ‘Schooled in Lies’. The article reflects the lack of experience and direction in education which would provide for children a defense against illicit information.

Mariner thinks the missing defense mechanism ‘against the Devil’s work’ – just to greatly simplify it – is the disappearance of Sunday School. Public education systems are not the source that teaches ‘goodness’ and ‘ethics’ and faith through a graceful life. On the other hand, all religions deliver what mariner calls a spiritual/moral spine with which to interpret life’s road.

Classical religion is caught in a bind where modern society cannot relate to the myths recorded as far back as 6000 BC – myths that compensated for the limitations of primitive language and unknown science. On the other hand, it is the strength of religion that a universal value system, founded in a series of unchangeable truths, promotes a positive existentialism that protects against whimsical and immoral behavior.

Is this a new mission for religion? How would churches reverse the drain away from structured ideology? Mariner is of the opinion that founders like Jesus and Buddha may not have been successful if everyone had had smartphones and the Internet. The United States has spent centuries avoiding a theocracy; the battle between church and state is all about unchanging doctrine versus free will of the citizens.

So, let’s add yet another conundrum to the list of massive shifts occurring at this moment. How will capitalism, socialism, free will, artificial intelligence and now religion, come together?

Ancient Mariner

Have we noticed legislators don’t listen to us?

As the gap between the well-to-do and the lower income groups widens ever more rapidly, a citizen might wonder why legislators aren’t aware of the strain the gap causes. One could look at the effect Putin and his oligarchy has on the Russian economy: thin support for the quality of life and constant dissatisfaction from the citizenry.

But wait. Isn’t the US a democracy? Can’t options like referendums or voting correct the national path? Actually, the situation isn’t caused by selfish dictators, it’s caused by plutocracy. Our legislator’s overhead for reelection and other benefits have become extremely expensive; over the last three decades or so, legislator overhead has grown much faster than the rate of inflation. To keep ahead, the legislators follow the money. One blatant example is Donald who has a lock on the cost of Republican primaries, forcing members who want to remain in office to kowtow to Donald’s wishes.

But Donald is just one player in the money-for-policy game. Collectively they are called the ‘K Street’ players – the professional lobbyists representing special interests. Check out the report below.

Published by Politico, here is the Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for 2021.


Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $56.3 million (versus $49.3 million in 2020) and $16 million in Q4 2021 (versus $12.4 million in Q4 2020)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $53.4 million (versus $49.6 million in 2020) and $13.5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $12.3 million in Q4 2020)

BGR Group: $35.1 million (versus $31.9 million in 2020) and $9.2 million in Q4 2021 (versus $8.1 million in Q4 2020)

Holland & Knight: $34.9 million (versus $28.2 million in 2020) and $9.7 million in Q4 2021 (versus $7.4 million in Q4 2020)

Cornerstone Government Affairs: $34.6 million (versus $28.1 million in 2020) and $9.3 million in Q4 2021 (versus $7.6 million in Q4 2020)

Invariant: $31.2 million (versus $21.1 million in 2020) and $9.1 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5.7 million in Q4 2020)

Forbes Tate Partners: $25 million (versus $19.5 million in 2020) and $6.5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2020)

Tiber Creek Group (previously Peck Madigan Jones): $24.6 million (versus $17.2 million in 2020) and $6.5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $4.5 million in Q4 2020)

Squire Patton Boggs: $24.4 million (versus $24.3 million in 2020) and $6.9 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2020)

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas: $23.8 (versus $19.3 million in 2020) and $6.3 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2020)

Capitol Counsel: $21.9 million (versus $19.1 million million in 2020) and $6 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2020)

Crossroads Strategies: $21.7 million (versus $16.5 million in 2020) and $5.7 million in Q4 2021 (versus $4.6 million in Q4 2020)

K&L Gates: $21.2 million (versus $18.6 million in 2020) and $5.8 million in Q4 2021 (versus $4.2 million in Q4 2020)

Cassidy & Associates: $20.6 million (versus $16.9 million in 2020) and $5.5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $4.3 million in Q4 2020)

Van Scoyoc Associates: $19.5 million (versus $18.1 million in 2020) and $5.4 million in Q4 2021 (versus $5 million in Q4 2020)

Thorn Run Partners: $18.9 million (versus $14.2 million in 2020) and $5.1 million in Q4 2021 (versus $3.8 million in Q4 2020)

Ballard Partners: $18.6 million (versus $24.6 million in 2020) and $4.5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $6 million in Q4 2020)

Subject Matter: $18.2 million (versus $14.5 million in 2020) and $5 million in Q4 2021 (versus $3.8 million in Q4 2020)

Covington & Burling: $17.3 million (versus $16.4 million in 2020) and $3.7 million in Q4 2021 (versus $4 million in Q4 2020)

Tarplin, Downs & Young: $15.9 million (versus $12.2 million in 2020) and $3.7 million in Q4 2021 (versus $3.3 million in Q4 2020)

Sadly, money almost solely drives policy. The press covers the really big legislation but behind the scenes, a change in this regulation or a deletion of a small requirement never makes the news. These changes are bought by K Street, who doesn’t even have a vote. A good example is how hard it is to rewrite tax legislation – a simple intellectual issue that would have a profound effect on the world of money.

Of late, plutocracy has entered the health industry. Keep an eye on changes to your health insurance coverage. By the way, Xarelto, a common blood thinner costs $4.74 per tablet in Canada and $16.29 in the U.S. Why hasn’t the Congress dealt with this? Ask your local Pharma lobbyist.

Ancient Mariner

World of Work

One of the many, many disruptions in today’s society is the new phenomenon of ‘work from home’. The traditional model leveraged the natural human behavior to associate in cliques, extended families and tribes. Coming to a common workplace emulated these natural behaviors. The political structure also fit into a tribal model where a few members were recognized as leaders (Managers). Virtually all workplaces had a tree-like structure that distributed tasks and functions under the guidance of the managers.

Thanks to the interruption of the Pandemic, which forced lockdown, and the new power of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which eliminated many human tasks, people suddenly found themselves at home all day. The natural tribal environment was gone; the social benefits of human gathering was gone; the ability to oversee policy and function was greatly weakened.

The opportunity to work from home became a benefit for many workers. Salary and benefits were no longer limited to financial criteria and working conditions; suddenly a major benefit included whether one could work from home.

Aside from large empty office buildings, which were a massive financial overhead, businesses also felt the negative impact of dispersed workers who were not in a controlled environment. ‘Work at home’ still distorts the statistics on employment versus unemployed and is a new headache for service oriented businesses.

This issue is a new phenomenon. Managers haven’t been trained in management techniques for isolated workers. Below is an interview with a personnel manager who proposes methods to optimize the modern workforce:

Being interviewed by Protocol Braintrust (on-line news service), Julia Anas, Chief People Officer at Qualtrics, Made good recommendations:

“When evolving culture, especially in a virtual environment, there are key actions leaders should take.

“Identify your core values and the impact you want to have on the world, unifying your employees — from executives to individual contributors — around these values. At Qualtrics, we call these TACOS: Transparency, All in, Customer obsessed, One team and Scrappy.

“Pair experience data — what your employees are thinking and feeling — with operational data — how they are performing — to design and continuously improve work experiences.

“Be purposeful in how you connect with your employees and what works for them.

“Lead with empathy. Employees want to feel a sense of belonging and connection with the people they work with, and it’s critical for leaders to foster a culture that prioritizes listening, understanding and meeting people where they are.”

Organizing a workplace using empathy and other sociological values is a new phenomenon. Tribal structures are missing and must be replaced with a new worker-centered philosophy. Employees who make good managers may have to be less authoritative and more conciliatory in their methods.

We will watch how this ‘evolving culture’ emerges.

Ancient Mariner


Sea Change

Axios reported on some surveys of Generation Z, the young generation aged 18 – 29. The charts speak for themselves, showing a significant shift toward the Democratic Party:

Mariner often touts the theme of voting out of office anyone older than 55. These charts suggest that in about ten years there may be a new nation emerging that is focused on the issues of today and will have an awareness of how to manage society. Virtually every major personality in the political world is past, maybe really past, retirement age – including Donald.

What these old folks know about is the Cold War, competitive international trade, wars that use bullets, Adam Smith capitalism, Newt Gingrich competitive party politics, Reaganomics, and Jim Crow racial policies.

What they don’t know about is the negative effect of emerging oligarchy and plutocracy, team-based supply chains, wars without bullets, everything that has evolved with the Internet, national unity in politics, and a long list of social issues including racism, class stability in economics, true church versus state ideology, and the immediate importance of restoring the planet’s resources and ecosystems.

The future still seems scary to mariner but he’s past retirement, too; he was the new generation when Camelot came along.

Nevertheless, this seems like good news to share on this special holiday.

Ancient Mariner


Revisiting the World in 1950

The red line on the map of Eastern Europe below shows the peak of USSR dominance in 1950. For decades the West has known that Vladimir Putin’s dream is to restore Russia to its largest expansion that was created by the Warsaw Pact. Evidently Vladimir thinks it is time to begin restoration.

The Russian aggression has pushed out of the news the inflamed issue of Pacific Ocean dominance vis-à-vis China. Today the issue is Ukraine and Crimea, which are immediately to the east of Poland and Romania, bordering the northern shore of the Black Sea. Crimea, already forcibly annexed by Russia, is the island at the north end of the Black Sea

One of the intellectual victories that came out of WWII negotiations, and one which sustained national independence through the Cold War, was an agreement that national boundaries cannot be changed by brute force.

Ukraine was part of Russia until it officially declared itself an independent country on August 24 1991, when the communist parliament of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of Ukraine, de facto declaring Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union. For the likes of Russian plutocrats, this has remained a thorn in the side. Vladimir surely believes that Ukraine and Crimea have always been part of Russia and should remain so.

Economically, Russia is hurting the way dictatorships usually suffer: Government sucks every dollar it can (not unlike American private equity firms) leaving too little for the citizenry to survive comfortably. The one thing Russia cannot tolerate is to be cut off from international trade via intensely restrictive sanctions – the strategy Biden and the EU have been touting. The problem that throws sand in the gears is that the EU is dependent on Russian oil and natural gas.

What Putin is banking on is that an invasion could be accomplished in a few days before opposing nations could respond to Russia’s execution of overwhelming military force, borrowing Syria’s strategy which is to level everything without regard for future functionality; Ukrainian leaders, like the opponents of Adolf Hitler, would be summarily executed.

On paper this has merit since Ukraine is not part of NATO and is not automatically protected.

The 1950s question is whether nations will be able to enforce the idea that boundaries cannot be changed by brute force without using brute force themselves.

All eyes are on Vladimir Putin.

Ancient Mariner

The Planet is a player

Around the entire planet, presidents, prime ministers, dictators and monarchs struggle to maintain a positive image to their subjects while fighting nature’s infectious army. Science struggles to keep up with nature; politics struggles to keep in step with the march of new, deadly viruses and destructive weather; human confusion increases as social media misrepresents the issues; the economy struggles to sustain order in the marketplace as employees abandon jobs in fear; education is brought to its knees by conflicting policies and solutions; financial support by the government is shutting down as party politics block national responses to national pandemics and weather.

Let’s face it. Nature is slapping humanity around as if humans were a bunch of namby-pambies. Societies and their power structures have ignored global warming since its first documentation in 1853. Societies and their power structures have ignored the disruption and raping of the planet’s Eco structure until the planet had to put its foot down and doubled the rate of global warming. The ratio of planetary resources to population is on an increasingly negative curve toward inadequacy for humanity in general.

In the day-to-day life of humans, these issues seem vague and ill defined. Finding the next meal or the next income source is more important. Keeping one’s wealth as storm clouds gather obstructs the big picture.

Unlike moments in history when some element of reality suddenly brought change, e.g., electricity, automobiles, TNT or artificial intelligence, today the planet is a player; it can make changes, too. Genuinely destructive weather has become commonplace; volcanic eruptions are becoming commonplace; the oceans, by human interference, have grown so warm as to create massive extinction of the sea’s Eco system and will disrupt weather for many decades.

Yet the political environment speaks of petty wars and egotistical posturing. Mariner is reminded of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

This must be a movie. Mariner has been drawn into a metaverse environment. No, not really. Our times today are difficult and many answers are unknown. All a person has left is a stable ethic and what factual information may, or may not, be at hand.

Ancient Mariner

Immoral circumstances

Since early last December online news services have begun reporting on the immoral circumstance and the economic impact of a rapidly self-enriching oligarchy, i.e., the super billionaire citizens and large, illegal income structures of international corporations and investors. Ironically, Putin and his cronies keep their hidden wealth in the US and a few other western nations – it’s safer.

Wealth can be purchased at advantageous times and allowed to grow untaxed because of tax loopholes. These invested assets are, in fact, removed from the economic flow of Growth Domestic Product (GDP) that supports the entire nation. While showing the wealthy growing even wealthier, the fungibility, or trade value is zero. In effect this wealth sits in an attic with no comparable value in the common economy. Think of a magician making a dollar coin vanish from his hand and never show up again.

One of the news sources is ProPublica, known for deep investigations where daylight doesn’t shine. To save words, mariner quotes ProPublica’s opening remarks to a piece written last year:

“Had the billions in budget reductions occurred all at once, with tens of thousands of auditors, collectors and customer service representatives streaming out of government buildings in a single day, the collapse of the IRS might have gotten more attention. But there have been no mass layoffs or dramatic announcements. Instead, it’s taken eight years to bring the agency that funds the government this low. Over time, the IRS has slowly transformed, one employee departure at a time.

“The result is a bureaucracy on life support and tens of billions in lost government revenue. ProPublica estimates a toll of at least $18 billion every year, but the true cost could easily run tens of billions of dollars higher.

The cuts are depleting the staff members who help ensure that taxpayers pay what they owe. As of last year, the IRS had 9,510 auditors. That’s down a third from 2010. The last time the IRS had fewer than 10,000 revenue agents was 1953, when the economy was a seventh of its current size.”

 Another news source wrote about eight multibillionaire families who had never paid one dollar in taxes. Obviously the IRS needs to be refunded at appropriate levels and the fungibility of trillions of dollars must be returned to the economy by rewriting tax laws so that gained wealth can be taxed.

But this issue is more than numbers, profit margins and taxes. The wide, growing division between the wealthy and the average citizen has deformed the national culture. The number of poverty-stricken people is growing at an historic rate. The working class has endorsed Donald Trump as a savior. A normal lifestyle is out of reach for the twenty-year-olds who cannot afford college, marriage or housing. In times of great swings by inflation or recession, these are times when the private equity world sweeps in to gather easy, profitable pickings. Note that the US is heading for two economically disastrous situations: inflation and climate change. Will Government have the resources to keep the boat afloat for the next ten to fifteen years?

Not without a total rewrite of taxation laws and the agents needed to enforce compliance.

Make sure your representatives in every level of government hear your concern for tax reform.

Ancient Mariner


Jever (Did you ever) hear someone use a many syllabled word for a one-syllable meaning? Mariner uses too many syllables sometimes but he means really big words like slubberdegullion, which means ‘unhappy person’.

On the other hand, remember when taking a picture meant sending the film roll away to be developed and during the meantime one would entertain one’s self by singing Snow White’s song, “Someday my prints will come”.

When mariner was a young boy, he often visited his grandmother who had a distinct dialect. She would say zink for sink and “Gawd’ for God. On the other hand, the other grandmother was a German immigrant and she would reverse v and w; for a long time mariner didn’t know it was not viegela but wiegela.

One time, mariner had business in Philadelphia. He visited the old market neighborhood in search of local flavors. He believes that Philadelphians rarely if ever have the need to use hard consonants; the dialect is very slushy.

In primary school the teachers were diligent about teaching grammar and sentence structure and when to use ‘who’ and ‘whom’. In high school he took Latin only to learn it didn’t matter where a word was placed; it was that the suffixes matched.

When mariner was young, he and his friend (now a renowned philologist) would have fun spelling words the way people actually said them. Two common examples are, ‘skoeet’ and ‘prolly’ not to mention ‘jever’.

Poignantly, mariner misses the word ‘gay’. It was a richly nuanced word that combined the sensation of friendly, entertaining and memorable into a three letter word. Today there are those beating the word ‘woke’ into oblivion not only by definition but by tense as well.

It is fortunate that the human brain does not need explicit articulation to shape reason. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even need facts but that’s another post. The point here is that humans need a sloppy, flexible and constantly changing language. It fits the brain so well.

Ancient Mariner

The Constitution of the Christian Faith – 2

Jesus continues by addressing the Greatest Commandments and demonstrating how to invoke the Holy Spirit with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.


Mark 12:28-31

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

֎ To demonstrate these responsibilities, Jesus selects a situation that has confrontational aspects to it: the story of the Good Samaritan.


LUKE 10:30-37.

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.

36 “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37

He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

֎ While still within the Jewish faith, Samaritans had a set of differences with Jews that was deep rooted and reflected a class difference in Israel. There were several religious differences between Samaritans and Jews. Just one example had to do with the role of the Savior:

The Samaritans await “The Restorer”, whom they call the Taheb—a prophet who will establish a period of peace and justice. The Jews, of course, awaited the Messiah, who would overthrow the Romans and give them back their land.

These differences, while seemingly minute to some, were the basis for a division that existed between Jews and Samaritans for thousands of years and still separates them today. Figuratively speaking, today the Samaritan would be a member of a black activist group and the beaten man would be a white supremacist.



Ancient Mariner

More on the New Age

Now that mariner has adopted the New Age, he has some ideas.

Today there are game programs so realistic that the player actually controls the hero. It shouldn’t be too difficult to develop regular movies like crime drama, rom-com and adult romance where the player actually plays themselves in the movie. What might be interesting is not to have a script for the player so the player can watch themselves reacting to the other actors as they would for real. Perhaps this outside-the-self awareness might tell the player more than they want to know about themselves.

Another idea is to have a special robot for interaction with dating sites and other person-to-person adventures. The robot could sit in the room and regulate the experience for maximum enjoyment. Let’s name this robot Alexa.

Here’s a thought: Will we be able to buy some acreage in the metaverse? Then all mariner’s robots can be transferred to the metaverse and mariner can live on the acreage.

What’s neat about all this is that a person never has to leave their recliner!

Hmmm . . . . Maybe Matrix had the right idea after all.

Ancient Mariner